A must in Berkshire... everything is pleasing, everyone is pleasant... Can't wait to return !
Donnington Valley Golf Course only 25 years old, originally a 9 holes but was further extended to provide this now mature golf course, set in the Berkshire countryside, with a luxury Hotel a few minutes away, part of the set up.
Convenient location, near Newbury, J13 M4. A nice venue for a few days golf/stay.
The course is rolling parkland that provides an interesting & enjoyable game to every golfer with some tricky/exciting holes, the last 4 particularly testing, it would be good to play more than once to fully appreciate.
There are two sides to this course, divided by the private road leading to the one way Car park, a fair amount of walking with some very steep climbs, ie. the 11th (Bunker Hill), a perched Par 3, the 16th (Lakeside) another testing Par 3, very highly perched, with a lake/running stream at the bottom. The same lake comes into play in the 15th Par 5 (Big Dipper) and the 17th Par 4(Oaken).
Good signage but be aware there are some Tee boxes very near one another, so keep on the right track and look at the signs.
Lovely wide, well kept fairways, sloping most of the time, but some very tight holes ie 14th Par 4(The Funnel), some inviting doglegs. Rough is better avoided.
Hole 1, 2, 7 & 8 on the first side of the private road, have a Links feel, as fairly open & exposed, with bumps/ondulations/little craters, tempting large sand traps, some rough and not too many trees in the middle.
I must mention the greens, as they were one of the nicest I have played for a long time, "fast & true", a real pleasure to use one's putter or lucky enough to chip in. There is a "Twin" green worth mentioning, the 3rd/5th hole, very spectacular (even more so than Westerham's), you will need all your putting skills for this twin, as a slight misjudgement & you could be ending up on the wrong green due to the ferocious slopes.
Favourite holes (I'll describe 3 only this time):
4th, short Par 4 (Dingley Dell),a blind tee shot over a guiding post, slope to the green guarded by a pretty pond on the left, a very tight entrance from the right and lots of trees on the sides and some in the middle before reaching the green. A pretty hole.
9th, a beautiful short Par 3 (Great Cedar) guarded by a small attractive pond and a large cedar tree on the right, a challenging green that slopes back to front. One gets a live audience watching as well as there is pleasant terrace in front of the clubhouse.
15th (Big Dipper), long Par 5, 616 yards from Whites): a very challenging & exciting Par 5, tee shot over a big dipping valley, then aim for a guiding post at the top of the hill, with large trees on either sides, a farm with sheep/singing cockerel etc., slight dogleg right, then a downhill shot to a raised green, protected by a large sand trap on the right and a big lake on the left. This lake comes into play for the 16th & 17th holes which are also favourites of mine, but to truly appreciate, I recommend you go & try the course and decide for yourself.
On this course, the stroke index is the same for any coloured tees, easier when you play in a mixed team.
For those who like art, there is an interesting construction on the 10th tee, a sort of a folly or romantic bench with a shelter on top , little hearts carved in the wooden structure. Also, a real folly by the 9th green, near the big cedar.
There is an amazing 25' long bronze sculpture (by Maurice Blik) "At First Light" or "The Kiss" which stand at the back of the twin green and can be seen from the Hotel. The 6th hole runs parallel to the hotel.
The Clubhouse, Snelsmore House, is a Grade II listed Victorian building with a pleasant terrace overlooking the 9th & 18th green as said earlier. Bars /lounge are cosy and the food/drinks reasonably priced. Service is excellent
Proshop is 1st class, well stocked with classy brands for Ladies/Gents, equipment & sundries. All the Pros are very attentive to the visitors. Will return when I am ready to get a new set of clubs properly fitted as I have total confidence in their approach. You even get returning visitors taking lessons there, and driving some 30/40 miles every month or so, this show they (the Pros) must do something right.
Lovely practice putting green by the Car Park, with flowers around the old brick wall. Nets by the 1st tee and a chipping area near the Proshop.
Ladies changing room, very attractive, nice furniture & fittings, spacious & bright, big lockers available to visitors.
Car Park is a one way system from the private road, a lovely path leading to the Clubhouse, Proshop & 1st Tee.
A rhododendron (mauve in colour) cladded path to the 10th Tee & car park.
A very nice place to spend a golfing weekend (mine was arranged through Your Golf Travel) as the hotel is luxurious, has pool & spa, 1st class restaurant & sommelier, several bars to choose from. The reception in the hotel is as equally warm as in the Golf Club & Proshop.
A little long, but Donnington Valley is more than just a golf course & it is worth appreciating the set up, the surroundings, the warmth & friendliness of the staff and club members alike. Everyone seems happy !!!!
We were blessed with a glorious weather too.
You have to play Donnington Valley!
Today was the 2nd time I've been here this year, and on both occasions I've been very impressed. Despite the recent wet and miserable weather, the fairways and greens were in excellent condition. The only downer were the bunkers which were like muddy fields in places, but I guess that's my own fault for going in them.
I would suggest that this is a course for mid to lower handicappers, with a number of long par 4's, and trees restricting the width of the fairways on a lot of the holes, but there's no reason why higher handicappers won't enjoy playing here too.
My favourite hole is probably the par 3 16th, which is played uphill over a pond to a green that has the woods as a backdrop. There are a number of other lovely holes here though.
Special mention goes to the guy working behind the bar, who couldn't do enough for us, and the excellent (and cheap!) food on offer.