Weston super Mare
One of the pleasures of this challenge is to visit places that do not automatically leap into your top 10 destinations and then finding something surprising and charming. Weston Super Mare and Prestatyn bookended this weekend and both sport Pontin’s holiday camps. Traditional bucket and spade resorts bewildered and tired by the rush to Spain.
Before Mr Pontin’s arrival the Victorians built a lovely course which opened in 1892 and was made over by Dr Alistair MacKenzie. It sits within the town, below the church, and runs along the shore set with views across the Bristol Channel. It is worth re-iterating MacKenzie’s ideals for a golf course for he was a man who believed in playing with a spirit of adventure unconstrained by the pencil. Of course this is the only way to play links golf. Whilst the card is unrelenting and immutable because no two days present the same conditions on the course the pencil record is redundant in comparing one day from another.
1. Should be arranged in two loops of nine to create different wind conditions. This is not two loops of nine but does head out and back along the shore playing holes along almost every point on the compass
2. Should have a mix of long par fours, drive and pitch holes and at least four par 3s. Tick
3. The greens and fairways should be undulating without steep hills for the golfer to climb. Tick
4. There should be a minimum of blind approach shots Tick
5. The emphasis should be placed on natural beauty, not on artificial features. Tick
6. There should always be an alternative route for the weaker player, yet a sufficient test for the plus- handicap player. Due to it’s length I am afraid modern equipment will make this a fairly undemanding challenge for the plus handicapper, not that I would have any idea of being in those shoes! Others had better judge that
7. There should be the complete absence of the annoyance caused by searching for lost balls. There is plenty of room on the course without penal rough but I did still stick one in the water and flirt with the course boundaries which is fair enough. No unfair penalties.
8. Course conditioning must remain consistently outstanding. I am afraid that we need to speak with the man, or woman, upstairs as 60 odd days without water is going to burn out the roots of any grass so the fairways did not show the course to it’s best advantage. Having said that the greens were excellent
Whilst not having the teeth or gaining the attention of MacKenzie’s other courses such as Augusta or Pebble Beach it is a fair test of golf to be undertaken with a spirit of adventure.
I loved the Scottish feel of being part of the town, and then escaping across the road to a quiet corner of the course and seeing the marine life and masts below the church and the views out to sea. It was an un-hurried place with some beautifully set holes and challenging shot requirements that never lull you: narrow greens set at an angle to the fairway; gentle changes of angle that pull you out of shape; and make you scrap for a bogey or better. Proper seaside golf
The club were extremely welcoming and generous in allowing me to pay my green fees to Alzheimer’s Society. Thank you.