Cavendish Golf Club Review
Golfshake last reviewed Cavendish as recently as 2019, but there have been some significant changes going on, so it seemed worth having another look.
All golfers must know by now that the Cavendish Golf Club at Buxton, Derbyshire, prides itself as “The Inspiration for Augusta.”
That’s a bold claim indeed, so has it got what it takes to be bracketed with such prestigious company?
If you are looking for one of the world’s most manicured courses, azaleas, and a clubhouse to die for then you might be disappointed.
What is undeniable though is a sense of history of the game from clubhouse memorabilia, to a shared designer in Dr Alister MacKenzie. His crafty design features are witnessed here aplenty, from elevated greens, rolling fairways and easily visible sand traps, placed in the most cunning of positions.
The club has had to survive financial upheaval in recent times. On the brink, with no clear plan, it was suffering from lack of income and investment.
A new management team has reversed fortunes however, and money is once more being spent on the course to make the most of MacKenzie’s legacy and also to open up some great views by removing self-set trees and undergrowth.
The most important renovation concerns the bunkers. Over the next few years and leading to the club’s centenary in 2025 and beyond, all 51 bunkers will be restored to improve their playability and visual appeal and a few others reinstated.
The good doctor himself would be proud to see his legacy live on into the club’s second century.
To date bunker renovation has been completed on the first five holes and the 18th. As well as looking the business they play uniformly making getting out a question of the quality of your technique – there can be no excuses!
Additional improvements include the introduction of new paths and the opening up of views of the brook that runs across the course.
Phase 2 of the bunker work will take place in the Autumn of 2021 and the rest will be done the following year.
The club is considering marking its centenary with a gala dinner and a special match tracing MacKenzie’s original hole layout, by which time the whole renovation and improvement programme will be completed.
The Front 9
The first three holes here are hardly crowd pleasers. A straight fairway over undulating landmarks the short par 4 opening hole, while the shorter second can catch you unawares with a blind, elevated green guarded by a ditch in front and a pond to the left. This is the first of many holes that plays longer than it looks.
There follows a very quirky hole back across a severe slope. Big hitters will fancy knocking it on but it’s a risky shot. Mere morals will pick a line down the left which takes the slope out of play for the approach. However, it leaves a string of three newly renovated bunkers to hit over to a severely sloping green.
From then on the course changes character. The gorgeous par 3 4th plays from an elevated tee enhanced by recent works to improve the paths and open up the view of the stream at the bottom.
The tough 5th and 6th feature changes in elevation, requiring good course management and a magic putter.
The Back 9
By now you will have noticed that every hole has is own distinct character and that trend continues on the return.
Hole 10 is possibly the most difficult on the course. A good drive is required to reach the plateaued fairway with OB down the right. There is then a tantalising and extremely scary shot over a brook to a green perched high on dry land above. Anything left is dead, and so will you be if you try and retrieve your ball from the brook below.
It’s followed by another excellent hole requiring a good drive and mid iron to the green tucked below and across the same brook.
The next really noteworthy hole is the 14th, the only par 5 on the course with yet another sloping, elevated green.
If you have thought by now your putting is giving you a headache, the par 3 15th, requiring a well-flighted short iron across a gully to a perilously sloping green, may well test your patience.
From here is a lovely run in from the hills to the clubhouse via the difficult par 4 16th, featuring another sloping fairway – this time downhill from left to right requiring a good line off the tee followed by perfect judgement to find the green.
The final hole is simply a masterpiece requiring a brave second shot to the green tucked away around the corner in front of the clubhouse. It is as scary a finishing hole you are likely to encounter and a fitting end to a lovely, challenging course.
If you come here expecting a hidden Augusta you will be disappointed, yet this is a course to cherish, and if you don’t enjoy playing here you really should take up tiddlywinks.
It has a great traditional feel, requires excellent strategy and putting, all set within the frameworks of outstanding Derbyshire scenery.
At a mere 5,721 yards off the white tees, it might seem short, but it doesn’t play it.
With its current visionary leadership this is a club and course that will only get better. And with the very reasonable green fee policy set to continue, you really do get bang for your buck.