Heading for the 'Hinksey' Heights

High on the hill overlooking England's seat of learning is one of the best courses in Oxfordshire

Martin Park
Thu, 4 May 2000

Heading for the 'Hinksey' Heights

Hinksey Heights Golf Course and Country Park
South Hinksey
Oxford
OX1 5AB.
TEL: 01865 327775
FAX: 01865 736930

PAR: 74, 7023 yards (Medal), 6680 (Yellow)
Ladies: PAR 76, 6080 Yards.
Green Fees: Weekday £12. Weekends and Bank Holidays £15 per round.

Situated high on the hill overlooking England’s seat of learning, Hinksey Heights, opened in April this year is already proving to be a popular venue for society and day visitors alike.

It has just about everything that the visitor could possibly want, cheap green fees, a choice of five teeing areas on each hole including a testing 7023-yard layout from the stones, fantastic views over the Oxfordshire countryside and a welcoming clubhouse with great food and ale.

In 1983, owner John Brimble had the vision to develop the idea of having a golf course and a nature park so that everybody in the family could have something to enjoy.

For the golfer, the course is certainly the most original in this part of Oxfordshire. David Heads, former Head Greenkeeper at nearby Frilford Heath, took charge of the design and construction in April 1995 where he laid 18 temporary greens and roughly designed a course around them.

Pay and play golf took place six months later on the temporary course while the major construction and landscaping was going on around it.

Now it is complete, the result is a truly original design incorporating features of some of the great links and heathland holes.

The start is innocuous with a straightaway par four, but is essential to put the ball below the hole here as the greens are smooth and slippery when you are on the wrong side of the hole.

Even the 325-yard second hole can catch out the good golfer from the back tees, as placement for the second shot is vital to give yourself a makeable birdie putt on the two-tier green.

But the course starts for real on the third (Key Hole) and only your Sunday best drive and three-wood will find the tiny and heavily undulating putting surface. Make par and crack open the Champagne!

If you have survived the third, you have to play cagey golf to get through the next three. The 178-yard par three fourth requires some though as to what club to pick, pick one more than you think. And the 470-yard par four fifth offers no respite except on the green, which is one of very few flat putting surfaces.

And the sixth is just a country mile long at 591-yards. But if you cut the corner with your drive and bust a three wood for your second, you could get close enough for a pitch and putt birdie.

Thankfully, it gets a bit easier from hereon in. The 519-yard ninth offers a good chance to get a shot back, and is close enough to the ‘Caddyshack’ for light refreshment to complete the back nine.

The green on the174-yard par three tenth is reputed to be where one of England’s most famous landscape artists, J.M.W.Turner, painted ‘The Dreaming Spires of Oxford’ and the views from the top of the hill here are worth the visit in their own right.

The homeward half is certainly more forgiving than the front nine and offers plenty of chances to get the card looking respectable with good scoring opportunities at the 11th, 12th and 13th.

But the 394-yard 14th lives up to its stroke-index two rating and only the most accurate of drives will leave a good angle into the kidney shaped and upturned saucer green.

The finish is certainly up to any Championship it will undoubtedly host in the near future. The 503-yard 15th presents the bigger hitters with a birdie opportunity, but beware of the out-of bounds all the way down the left.

Both the 16th and the 17th force you to make the decision to take driver or a safe long iron off the tee to put the ball in the right position. On both holes, the big hitter has the advantage, being able to hit short irons into these holes will set up the birdie putts. But having a longer club in will bring the trouble into play. The greenside bunkers on the 17th are best avoided.

If your round looks respectable at this point, you will have the chance of a grandstand finish with the 517-yard downhill 18th. Favour the right half of the fairway to give yourself a look at the pin placement and even the modest hitters should make this par five in two, offering a genuine eagle chance to finish the day on a high note.

If you happen to be all square with your playing partner on the 18th, settle the match with a game of ‘petanque’ over a cold glass of beer outside the converted corn barn clubhouse, the ‘Caddyshack’.

If the golf is not enough, there are some great walks around the nature trail or even the chance for some course fishing on the surrounding lakes and ponds, fully stocked with mature coarse fish.

Although the course is very young, the condition belies its infancy. In some places it may seem young and immature, but Rome was not built in a day and in time, Hinksey Heights will be one of the BB&O gems of the future.

KEY HOLE: The 474-yard par four third hole is the most photographed hole on the course and a nothing but two well struck shots will get you to the green.
Professional Richard Howett says: "All aspects of the game are required to have the opportunity to make par. You need a long straight tee shot to the right centre of the fairway to maximise distance off the tee. That should leave a long to mid iron into a well protected green. Selecting the club for your approach is important because the green is very short from front to back. Once there, a two-putt is no certainty because the saucer shaped green presents problems with line and length judgement. Make two putts from anywhere and be delighted with it".

FACILITIES: 18-hole pay and play course, excellent practice facilities including grass driving range, large putting green, pitching and chipping green. The 'Caddy Shack' bar and restaurant serving hot and cold food with a licensed bar and function room. Showers and changing facilities with a sun patio and a 'petanque' (French Bowling) rink, coarse fishing and a nature trail

HOW TO GET THERE:

From the M4 Jct. 13, take the A34 North towards Oxford and the course is signposted on your left just after the Botley and Hinksey Hill roundabout.

From the M40, take Jct. 9 and follow the A34 south towards Oxford and Newbury. At Oxford, take the South Hinksey turn on the A34 between Botley and Hinksey Hill interchanges, signposted 'South Hinksey and Golf Course'.

For further information about Hinksey Heights, click on www.hinksey-heights-golf.co.uk or check out our comprehensive course directory in the near you section