The Cherington Course
If the quality of a course can be determined by its use as a Championship venue, then The Cherington Course passes with flying colours. The newer of the two courses, and styled as an inland links, The Cherington is characterised by its vast undulating greens, thick rough and firm, fast fairways. Between 2002 and 2007, The Cherington was proud to host the Open Championship Regional Qualifying, and regularly stages other significant events.
Long hitters will wish to take on the bunkers from the tee and aim to get home with a precision second. Otherwise aim for the right hand bunker and play a tee shot of around 220 yards. Follow this up with a second to leave you short of the bunker guarding the right side of the green.
Though the yardage may be short, this hole demands your full attention so early on in your round. A sharp dog-leg left, the tee shot requires both accuracy and distance control to set up the ideal approach to this small target. The ideal tee shot of 200 yards aimed at the left hand bunker will leave the best approach to the green guarded by bunkers and mounds both left and right. A good birdie chance, but par is by no means a certainty.
A tee shot that demands precise club selection. Bigger hitters will be happy to take the ‘Tiger line’ down the left hand side of the fairway, thus avoiding the devilish grass bunkers located left and right. Shorter hitters may wish to lay-up short of the grass bunkers, leaving a full shot to a green with a narrow entrance. Always better to be long rather than short with the approach, especially if the pin is at the back of this two-tiered green.
Accuracy over distance is once again the key off the tee at number four. If you are sure that you cannot reach the fairway bunker 220 yards from the tee, then a drive up the right side is ideal. Careful consideration must be given to the pin placement on your approach, as this large green has many subtle borrows making a two putt far from easy.
The first par three on the course requires precise club selection from the tee. Anything landing short will pitch and stop on the upslope guarding the front of the green, leaving a tricky chip to a green that slopes from front to back. The percentage play here is to play for the middle of the green and trust your putting skills to secure your par.
A demanding tee shot requires a drive up the centre for a good view of the green for your second. The approach shot should be played at the left side of the green with a gentle fade to eliminate the bunker guarding the front right edge. Another long two-tiered green demands precise club selection if you are to keep a three putt off your card.
A green 42 yards deep, this hole can play three clubs different depending on where the pin is located. The percentage play is to aim at the centre of the green to avoid the bunkers left and right. When the pin is on the top shelf, the aggressive play can leave a reasonably flat birdie opportunity but going long is not an option. When the flag is at the front, play to the ridge running through the heart of the putting surface for a good look at birdie.
A long hole, requiring both length and accuracy off the tee. A drive favouring the left half of the fairway provides the best angle for the approach. Shorter hitters may be happy to play the hole as a three-shot hole and walk off with a highly credible 5. Approach shots to the green should be played to the left centre to avoid the grass swale that guards the right half of the green.
A long drive through the centre of the two walls sets up a long approach to this par five. The percentage play is just short of the walls, and a lay-up short of the bunker guarding the right side of the fairway. As with all the greens on the front nine, the key is club selection on the approach. The green is heavily contoured, and putting from back to front is not advisable. Check your yardage carefully before playing your third shot to avoid a potential three-putt.
By no means a long par 3, but one to be played with due care and attention due to what is arguably the most challenging green on the course. When the pin is on the front, aim for the right centre of the green and allow the slope to feed the ball from right to left towards the cup. Anything long will tend to run into the left hand bunker. When the flag is on the top half of the green, you are faced with a daunting tee shot over the right hand bunker, placing a premium on club selection and a committed swing.
No bunkers on this hole, but don’t think you are in for an easy ride. A drive through the Cotswold stone walls is a must if you have any hope of reaching the green in two. Your approach will probably require a mid to long iron, and the undulating entrance to the green demands precision and accuracy. Miss the green left or right, and you will face a tough up and down to save par.
Another tough hole which invariably plays into the prevailing wind. A drive aimed at the gap in the walls will give you a view of the green which sits slightly below you. Care must be taken to ensure that approach shots have enough length as the upslope at the front of the green will not allow you to run the ball up onto the putting surface. The green itself slopes from front to back, and a frightful putt awaits if you are at the back putting to a front pin. A four on this hole is an excellent score.
The short par-5 thirteenth presents an excellent birdie opportunity. Long hitters will seek to get up in two but at the same time must remember to treat the hole with respect, as a potential birdie can quite easily result in a bogey. For those playing their approach shots to the green, aim to feed the ball in from the left hand side, as anything drifting to the right will fall off the right side, leaving a treacherous resultant pitch or putt up a steep faced bank
A short par 4 may tempt the bigger hitters into going for the green, but the percentage play has to be a long iron or fairway wood from the tee, to leave a short approach to a well-guarded green. Anything left of the green on the approach will fall sharply down to the left, leaving a blind up and down to save par. The green is well contoured, with subtle borrows to test the most confident putter. As with any green on The Cherington, good lag putting is a must.
The longest par 3 on the course, Hole 15 marks the start of a closing four hole stretch that will make or break your round. With such a deep green, club selection from the tee is of vital importance. Tee shots aimed at the right centre will catch the pronounced swale at the heart of the green and feed your ball towards the centre. Bunkers left and right will catch errant tee shots, and leave a very tough up and down. Take a three and walk on to 16.
A straight hit from the tee is a must. Whilst it is not out of bounds over the wall on the left, you certainly do not want to hit it there! Anything off the fairway to the right runs the risk of being blocked out by the trees. The green slopes from front to back, and the narrow entrance demands a precise approach.
An intimidating looking tee shot, made less so by the knowledge that the wall is not an out of bounds line. The second shot plays uphill to a raised green guarded to the right by a bunker you would be better off avoiding! If the flag is on the left half of the green, miss the green to the left at your peril, as a tricky short-sided chip will result. Middle of the green and two putts is the best play on number 17.
A tough finishing hole. Long hitters will seek to thread their ball between the bunkers to leave a short iron approach. For shorter hitters, the best play is out to the right from the tee, which leaves a longer shot to the green for the second. The two tiered green feels like one of the smallest on the course, with a very narrow entrance and bunkers waiting left and front right, and mounds at the back and on the right. Walk off with a 4 or a 5 then you are happy, the round is over, and a drink in the Clubhouse awaits.