Established in 1891, the course is a par 67 measuring just 5,122 yards but you wouldn’t think it because of the tumbling and ever changing terrain that it is routed across. Up hill, down dale and around craggy bends the 18 holes at Windermere take you on the most enjoyable of rambles though majestic Cumbrian countryside.
The course is full of nice surprises, lots of interesting features including rocky outcrops, bubbling becks, attractive ponds and of course some fine golf holes, not one of them remotely the same. I really can’t express how the uniqueness of each hole pleased me. You are able to use the tumbling slopes to your gain at times whilst at others you must fight the ascents.
The main thing that ties it all together, however, is the quality of the greens. And by that I don’t just mean the condition of the putting surfaces (which were very good for the time of year) but the slopes and contours fit their surrounds so brilliantly well. We often have raised greens with crowned surfaces, dell greens with gathering slopes and everything in-between; each one works so very well and adds to the defence of this course of modest length, on the scorecard at least.
The rounds gets your attention form the get-go with a blind drive over the crest of a jagged hill where we eventually discover a fairway dipping down sharply before rising equally quickly up to the green. The opening drive is the first of half-a-dozen blind shots but this all adds to the fun.
The entire first nine is excellent as we play through rolling valleys of heather and bracken. There is not a single bunker in sight but in truth the course doesn’t need them, nor is it allowed them as it is situated in a World Heritage Site with the stringent planning permissions of a National Park.
We return to the clubhouse at the halfway stage and are now at the highest point of the course with views stretching for what seems like eternity.
The second nine loops around the south side of the property as we initially head down and then around a woodland area before having to make a long climb for home. The stretch of holes between the 12th and 16th is very good and it may just have been tired legs on the uphill hike for home but I felt the final two holes didn’t quite match the quality of the rest, but are no less a test.
There isn’t a single par-four over the 400-yard mark but there are a few that feel much longer. The fourth is only 380-yards but looks almost double that stood on the tee, the seventh bends around a copse of trees and appears much lengthier than its 372-yards and the odd 17th plays so much more than its 355-yards.
It is also worth mentioning the dryness of the course on our visit in late-October, after a period of prolonged rain. It stood up remarkably well and for a region that is known for heavy rainfall I can imagine it plays well throughout the entire year.
To sum up Windermere; spectacular views of the surrounding fells and breathtaking scenery greet you at every turn, the golf is of a very high and varied standard and the off course catering facilities are wonderful. Windermere therefore comes highly recommended.
Copt Heath is a very fine parkland golf course that requires precision, plotting and a deft touch around the slick greens.
The Blue is a mix of American-style design and traditional English parkland. It's an unusual combination which makes the most of the terrain available. It was designed by Simon Gidman and opened in 1994.