Girton Golf Club – Review

Located a few miles outside Cambridge city centre, Girton Golf Club offers a challenging round of golf; deceptively so.

At just 5837 yards, Girton is a relatively short course with a par of just 69. On paper, there are many holes that seem likely birdies or pars (depending on you level of ability). In practice, however, especially on a blustery day, the Cambridgeshire course actually offers a very stiff test of golf.

At a paltry 281 yards, you would expect the opening par four 1st to be a straightforward start to the round. But as I stood on the first tee, with an extremely strong wind blowing left to right, the hole instantly became a nightmare. It was soon to become my first taste of the course’s main defence. Trees.

It will not be the rough (it is quite short), huge water hazards (water does not play a part) or absurd length (as established, it’s a short course) that gets you. Rather, it’s the imposing trees which line the fairways, that will ruin your scorecard. The rough appeared to be cut short in order for stray balls to bounce farther and farther into trouble, happy to make your scorecard a misery.

If you are planning a trip to Girton, make sure to take your straight driving game; and be prepared to play in strong winds. Situated in an open, flat location, Girton will often use the wind as another defence. Generally, most holes will play into a crosswind, with strong gusts eager to push your ball into Girton’s leafy defenders. Fairways are fair, but by no means wide, with several tee shots requiring a precise aim between narrow gaps between the lines of trees. Think the 18th at Augusta, on a slightly less grand scale.

After several holes (I’d brought my unreliable wayward driving game), I had became strangely familiar with hacking it out of trees and searching for my ball in bushes. Frighteningly, however, I was enjoying it, relishing the challenge of playing Tiger Woods style punch shots under the low branches (although, admittedly, largely unsuccessfully).

The Girton greens, once you’ve arrived on them, will be a pleasant experience. With a mixture of large and small, flat and undulating, the greens will always offer a different challenge. Visually, they look like they will roll slow, but as Girton has already surprised me, I was not that shocked to find them running quite quick. Many greens have large undulations and plateaus, which add to the challenge. Holing a huge, swinging, downhill putt for bogey on the 1st will be a feeling hard to better.

It is tough to pick a star hole, as many holes offer such different challenges. The award would perhaps go to one of the par 3s. The 17th, at 120 yards, is the shortest, but one of the most delightful par 3s on the course. Guarded by two cavernous bunkers at the front, and a line of trees and bushes at the back, the hole is nicely framed and offers a good ‘all or nothing’ challenge. Another pick would be the par 5 18th, due to the subtle dogleg and rolling fairway; a stiff finishing hole. The 13th, too, is a 90 degree dogleg that requires a precisely placed shot to a narrow green, or a ‘Tiger line’ to hit the green in one (over more trees).

After fourteen holes, the trees had finally become friends of mine. Needing some nourishment after being windswept for several hours, apple trees bore a tasty, if a little sour, treat. A nice discovery.

Practice facilities at Girton include a putting green, complete with undulations, and a practice field (in place of a driving range). Although not an ideal way to warm up for a round, the practice field seems ample for the members and fine for a few warm up shots. The clubhouse also offers good value food and drink, with a donation box for fees for visiting the captain’s bunker (officially the most magnetic bunker on the course).

The one problem with Girton is an external one. Visitors to the website will not gain much information about the course. Instead, information is limited to member specific material. This is one area that Girton could improve in order to attract and inform potential visitors.

Overall, Girton was an enjoyable test of golf. With friendly members and quiet surroundings, considering the bank holiday weekend was approaching, it was a pleasant place to enjoy an afternoon; even though the wind spoiled the scoring.


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