Abbey Hotel Golf and Country Club
Price: £135 per person (based on two sharing in October) and includes two nights accommodation, dinner bed and breakfast, three rounds of golf, hotel leisure membership.
I was asked by a golf pal the other day if I’d had my summer holiday. He was surprised by my response.
"Oh yes," I told him, "we went to sunny Redditch!"
It’s a long story involving ageing parents, work commitments and looking after other people’s dogs, which I won’t bore you with but this weekend break was effectively our annual vacation.
Not that my wife and I are complaining. The facilities were good and the sun shone throughout. Sorry we didn’t send a postcard.
Having picked up an A to Z of destinations by Golf and Leisure breaks, we didn’t get past the first entry before making a booking.
On paper it seemed to immediately fulfil our criteria – not too demanding parkland course, spacious rooms, good food and indoor pool. We weren’t disappointed, despite one fitful night’s sleep from exuberant wedding guests in the corridors and car park.
It’s difficult to accept that the course is less than 20 years old. It’s full of mature oak, ash and chestnut trees, rolling hills and streams and – apart from the modern luxury homes that surround it, bears the hallmarks of roots set deep in golfing history.
Designer Donald Steel, one of the foremost of his generation, with projects like Brocket Hall and Woodhall Spa’s Bracken course to his name, must have drooled at the prospect of working with such a piece of land.
At times golfers have to check their highway code as well as their scorecard as they wend their way along the pavements of mock-Georgian estates (from first green to second tee and tenth green to 11th tee), though there are no tell-tale signs of missing rakes or thumping ghetto blasters on your backswing.
The neighbours seem to respect the course and its participants. It was unfortunate, however that some of the golfers didn’t respect their colleagues.
A ball thudded into the bunker beside me at the dogleg par-4 first as I was leaving the green, fired from the tee by an impatient player in the group behind. A cupped hand to my ear, however, had the desired effect and after that they kept their distance.
Later we saw a young woman being driven at speed towards the clubhouse in a buggy, blood oozing from a head wound. She had not been so lucky.
But apart from a couple of scary moments, and a pedestrian pace of play, the course provided over five hours of enjoyment, particularly on its trio of par-3s.
The third demands a precise tee shot over water to a green with a giant step in it, the 7th is cut behind a lake in a stand of trees and the 11th demands a medium iron over water to a green that slopes steeply towards you.
Toughest stretch is the 12th to 14th – two 500-yard holes sandwiching a strong, stroke index one, par-4, which runs uphill between two giant oaks. Any self-respecting Tour pro would be happy to emerge in level par.
The 17th is also a tester, and needs a good drive from an exposed tee, while the 18th – only a 275 par-4 – will test your nerve with your approach knowing that a gallery will be casting a critical eye as they look down from the high terrace bar.
Once having found the haven of the hotel you can relax in the 25-metre heated pool, the sauna or steam room. It has two restaurants, with The Bramblings providing attentive service, good quality food and a list of tasty wines.
The rooms, each with en suite bathroom, were spacious – though the sloping Chalet-style ceiling took some adjustment following a couple of bruising encounters. And I was pleased to discover that all three Sky Sports were available.
The Abbey Hotel, on the edge of rural Worcestershire, comes highly recommended for a weekend break either for a couple or for a three-round society outing. I might try something further afield for my 2003 summer holiday, but the Abbey Hotel will always induce happy memories.
|Golfmagic rating: 8/10|
Abbey Hotel Golf and Country Club Hither Green Lane, Dagnell End Road, Redditch, Worcs. B98 9BE. Tel: 01527 406600 (www.theabbeyhotel.co.uk).
Abbey Hotel break