Up and down at Stockwood

An up and down day at Stockwood Vale Golf Club July 10th 2019

Our thanks to Roger Ashton for arranging this fixture at his home club, Stockwood Vale. It is near Keynsham between the Bath Road and the Wells Road so it was pretty well situated to suit us all. At only a mile from the Bristol Ring road it is often referred to as Bristol’s best kept golf secret. It is in a beautiful location atop the hills above Keynsham town with lovely views of the Mendips and the surrounding countryside. For a course that is only 20 years old it was in excellent condition.

We had a near record turn out with fourteen players making two three balls and two fourballs. The course is not too long at 5784 yards off the yellow tees and boasts that no two holes are alike which adds to its character. There are 11 par 4s, 4 par 3s and 3 par 5s. Some fairways are quite hilly which explains why there were six buggies in action on the day. I was in one of them and in my view, Anne and Bob Taylor and Hartley Heard, the three players who walked the course, deserve a medal.

We started the day with excellent bacon rolls and coffee in the welcoming club house before the first tee time at 11.30. The first fairway looks easy which is why so many of us were lulled into a false sense of security. It is a par 4 and only 286 yards long but stoutly defended by large bunkers strategically placed to deter long hitters and to protect the green. It takes strategic placing to come off here with par or a birdie.

One of the outstanding holes is the par 3 fourth, just 153 yards long but steeply downhill with a bunker at the side to catch the unwary. Nearest the pin was only achieved by one person, Jan Lloyd, which gives you some idea of the element of difficulty. The fifth hole is also from an elevated tee a 285 yards par 4 where the green is guarded by a stream and trees on either side of the approach.

The 13th signature hole is a 330 yards par 4 across a valley and brook. It needs a good drive to get over safely and to avoid the brook and the out of bounds all down the right of the fairway. A good second is needed to approach the green on a steep slope protected by bunkers. Congratulations to Hartley who managed to get a birdie here which I imagine is quite unique on this hole and Jan Lloyd who got down in five. Many of us found the brook or took at least four shots to get near the green.

Another stand out holes is the 16th, a 580 yards par 5 where accuracy on the drive is important as either side of the fairway is flanked by hedges and the slight dog leg to the green is fringed by bunkers. The final two holes also demand accuracy as the 17th has mature trees down either side of the fairway before a sharp dogleg left guarded by a magnificent oak tree opens up the green with its attendant bunkers. The final hole which even those on the buggies were glad to see after a tiring round in the sunshine was probably the easiest with a nice flat approach and at only 330 yards offers a final chance for a birdie.

Back in the club house for the prizegiving, some very good scores came in considering that many of us had not played here before and that it is a difficult course to tame.

Paul Packman and John Lloyd came in with 38 points each, Paul just winning on countback, closely followed by Jan Lloyd with 35, Philip Cook with 34 and our very own Roger Ashton with 33 for 5th place. The rest of us trailed behind, some of us miserably! Thanks again to Roger for the excellent day’s golf at Stockwood Vale.

Malcolm Davies