THREE really was the magic number when I teed up at Worsley Park, A Marriott Hotel & Country Club, in Manchester last month as I carded a rare 3-over 74 for my best score in three years, shortly before watching my beloved Manchester United claim a rare three points over Swansea.
Golf courses are relatively easy to praise when you play well, especially when firing your lowest score for what feels a lifetime. Yet when you consider the time of season and the plethora of courses that have fallen foul of the recent deluge, the presentability of this European Golf Design track in association with Michael King and Ross McMurray deserves all the high praise I’m about to give it.
Worsley Park course review
Taking advantage of the ‘lift, clean and place’ ruling – oh no, does that mean my score isn’t official?! – I whizzed around in a buggy, of course sticking to the path, en route to tallying two birdies, 12 pars, three bogeys and a double.
Despite measuring only 6,307 yards off the whites and being relatively open off the tee, allowing you to really open the shoulders and go after your drives, it was the immaculate undulating putting surfaces that really impressed me, particularly for January.
Since opening in 1998, Worsley Park, which has hosted the European Challenge Open and Manchester Open in recent years, has built a strong reputation within the Marriott UK portfolio for delivering in excellence in quality, service and inspired diversity. That has always been the story when I’ve played Marriott courses, such as Forest of Arden, Tudor Park, Breadsall Priory and Hanbury Manor.
A tough 409-yard par-4 opener with two bunkers to the right of the fairway and Reload City to the right of that, ensures you best have warmed up properly prior to your round, taking full advantage of Worsley Park’s extensive practice facilities. I played well away from the trouble and slightly missed the fairway en route to carding a bogey. For me, the first represents one of the toughest three challenges of the round.
The par-4 second measuring 360 yards offers some respite with a relatively large fairway and after ripping a drive 290 yards with my new custom-fit TaylorMade SLDR driver I pitched up to 5-feet and then curled in the delicate downhill left-to-righter in the side door for birdie. They all count!
But Worsley Park doesn’t let you rest for long as the slight dogleg par-4 third – stroke index 1 - bites back with a 434-yard brute playing uphill, and in these conditions, with absolutely no run on the fairways. A drive to the heart of the fairway left me with a full 7-iron in to a giant undulating green. A two-putt par felt like a birdie.
The par-3 fourth is a beautiful little hole from its elevated tee box. Despite playing only an 8-iron, the green is huge. I completely misjudged the elevation change but fortunately found the back of the dancefloor. It was probably the best two-putt of my career from outside of 80-feet.
Worsley then presents you with two back-to-back chances to get back on track with two par-5s measuring little more than 500 yards. Providing you get the tee shot away at the uphill fifth, it’s a relatively simple hole. It’s a blind tee shot and despite not really realising the line was to the left of the bunker at the top of the hill, I found the rough, layed up and wedged on for par.
The par-5 sixth is a severe dogleg left and played similar distance to the fifth. Had it not been for a poor chip shot from 30 yards I would have moved 1-under for the day.