Bearwood Lakes: Great but no picnic!

One of the best in Southern England

Bearwood Lakes: Great but no picnic!

Entering the security gates at Bearwood Lakes, you know you're in for a treat when you a see a separate sign for maintenance and clubhouse. In my experience only special clubs have sign posts for maintenance!

And true to its signage, the course is beautifully maintained with immaculate greens, velvet fairways and hazards that you dare not leave without carefully raking back into the condition you found them.

There's an American Country Club style and atmosphere to the place with attentive staff, complete with cheery and helpful demeanour. With day membership you also get a welcome pack and personalized locker and the opportunity to enjoy that customary bacon roll in a splendid chalet-style clubhouse over-looking the first hole and elevated 18th green.

It's a good step to the covered  range of a dozen bays but was a chance to hone my game in the expectation (more than hope) of winning a few quid off my playing companions. There's also a high quality, dedicated pitching area which reminded me of Gleneagles where I once watched Mark Roe pitch two balls at a time for sheer amusement.

The par-4 first hole sweeps down the hill and encourages an opening of the shoulders off the tee with the typical prevailing wind from the South West, into and off the right. The par-5 second deamnds a good drive over the brow of the hill if reaching the green with your second shot is an option. Beware, however that missing the fairway means par is a good score.

The short third gets you thinking. Club selection vital to semi blind green well guarded by deep bunkers, while the fourth threads between bunkers and should be a three point par.  Find the fairway on the long 5th and keep the approach in the right half - everything feeds left - and remember front yardage keeps the yawning lake out of play behind the green.

The sixth favours the right of the fairway to avoid a lone pine while seven, from an elevated tee, is worthy of its toughest stroke index needing a long uphill approach with at least a club longer than its yardage suggests. Play for position to the short par-4 8th leaving a pitch to the green while a mid iron should suffice to the par-3 ninth. 

A welcome Cornish pasty  or sausage roll at the half way house will set you up for the back nine which starts with a tricky downhill par 4 with a blind ditch catching almost anything a club or two short of a two-tier green. Along with the ninth, an extended water hazard is planned to make the hole even more daunting.

Heather-edged bunkers in front of the par-5 11th steer approaches to the left, ahead of a string of shot-making holes. The par-3 12th is a long iron or hybrid down the shoot and stunning 13 demands accuracy off the tee avoiding two streams which feed the lake.

Bearwood Lakes may only have been first played in 1996 but the maturity Martin Hawtree designed into it makes it as  good an inland course in the UK or Ireland that you'll ever play, despite its £95 price tag, so make full use of the membership day rate - it's better for knowing second time around.

The closing holes are a glorious mixture of aspirational parkland. Lay-up at the long 16th to leave a full wedge shot to a promentory green, go for accuracy off the tee at 17 to the right enable a good look at the shallow green and enjoy the challenge of 18 with its 40-yard wide green.

Bearwood Lakes has lots of natural woodland beauty that requires strategy off the tee and good sense with approaches.  Keep your ball in play and there's a fair offering birdies but even for the accomplished player it's no picnic!

For more information visit or call 0118 979 7900

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