• Neil White

Sandiway


There’s nothing like chipping into the hole on the Sunday at the Open – even if it’s the Sandiway Golf Club mixed open.


Yes, as Collin Morikawa was lifting the claret jug, Mrs W and I were proving golf can lift the spirits whatever our respective levels.


Indeed, a three on the 468-yard par-four was a bit of a buzz, especially as I was playing it as a five, such was its length and level of difficulty.




Sandiway is a beautifully manicured course with immaculate tee areas, pristine fairways and greens which are as true as any we have played on our travels this year.


It doesn’t have as many stand-out holes as some but there is plenty of deftness needed to plot a route around the many bunkers.


And then there is the tree on the 17th but more of that later.


We were wise to arrive early at this Cheshire gem so we could take advantage of its sloping driving range and assure ourselves that our Scottish lesson still served us well in a practice pot bunker.


The first, a 402-yard par-four set the tone – a lovely-looking hole with an elevated tee, demanding an opening shot over ferns and between fairway bunkers. I was very pleased to register three points off my 11 handicap.




Sand traps are the course’s greatest defence, nowhere more obviously than the par-three third which requires an eye-of-a-needle approach to a green which slopes right to left.




The par-five fourth is the most attractive on the outward nine in my opinion with a tee which looks down on a hole. Those hitting to the right either with their first or second shots will be punished by woodland but patience and placement will bring rewards.




For me, the second half at Sandiway is more exciting… probably because it is quirkier.


As a prelude, the ninth has a blind tee shot to a sharply undulating fairway down to a green which was harder to hit than initially seemed likely.




The 10th is a belter and, yes, of course, I am biased. Another tee shot over the hill, huge dogleg to the left which leaves mortals unlikely to reach the green but what does it matter if your pitching wedge is red hot?


I was also a fan of the 12th with a green hidden behind cavernous bunkers for those leaking right and one ready on the left for those trying to fade towards the target.




Course management is key to success at Sandiway and, although we scored well, Mrs W and I both think we could have done even better if our glowing card had not given us false confidence.


Thus, we found a new home in the big bunkers which capture overly ambitious second shots on the 15th and the sand on the 16th which gobbles up those who think it is an easy par-five and don’t account for the slope in front of the target.


The 17th would have been the course’s most memorable if I hadn’t chipped in on the 10th (did I mention that?).




It is a short par-four which dips down before rising back up with heavy rough before the fairway.


Even after a good tee shot, a tree blocks all routes. Mrs W found sand when she tried to go around it and I hit the very top branch when I tried to chip over it.


Interestingly, when we were playing Sandiway, I didn’t think there was much variation in its holes but now that I am looking back, a few hours after our round, I realise I was wrong.




There are twists and turns aplenty and even a farmer’s field in wait for the errant.


True, a couple of holes are a tad disappointing – the par 3 11th, squashed between the 10th and 12th looks like an afterthought and the proximity of the next tee to its target could fairly be described as dangerous.


But, on reflection, Sandiway very much deserves its place in the top 100 in England.








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