Chilworth is my home course so I know it pretty well. It’s an unpretentious and welcoming place and certainly worth playing. I thought the best way of presenting its delights would be to reproduce the description I provided in advance of the 2012 Viking Pyke, the pre-autumn term competition contested by staff at King Edward VI school Southampton. So here it is.
Chilworth is an undulating, fairly open course that can genuinely claim to offer something for everyone. It has opportunities for the big hitters to go for the green or cut corners, but there aren’t many holes that would induce that ‘are we nearly there yet?’ feeling in those less gifted with the driver and long iron. Quite a few holes reward a creative or thoughtful approach, and the mix of ups and downs, water and wooded sections makes for a varied 18 holes. The front 9 is longer and more challenging than the back 9, which is probably the right balance for most of us, and what the second half lacks in length, it more than makes up for in its interesting little nooks and crannies. Our local spy around the course offers some insight on each of Chilworth’s 18 holes below. Distances given are for yellow tees.
1st HOLE. 500 yards. PAR 5. SI 7.
Big hitters might fancy an early lash at the Pro VI; the rest of us will take a longish iron to the crest of the hill, then a shortish one to lay up in front of the stream before going for the green in regulation. Ah well, we can dream.
2nd HOLE. 207 yards. PAR 3. SI 11.
Back over the water we crossed on the way to the first, which makes this longish par 3 look more daunting than it really is. But a well struck 3 iron will see you on the green ok. Just avoid a major slice which will take out the following group coming down the first.
3rd HOLE. 287 yards. PAR 4. SI 17.
How close can you get to the green from the slightly elevated tee? Just watch you don’t get into the light rough under the trees on the right which can be slightly tricky to get out of. Otherwise a lovely hole where even mere mortals can realistically go for par.
4th HOLE. 516 yards, PAR 5. SI 5.
Don’t choose this hole to top your tee shot, as you need to get a good 150 yards to make the fairway beyond the ditch and avoid scrabbling around in semi-rough. Get on it and it’s a pretty straightforward climb up and over the hill to a green with a wickedly sloping surface that doesn’t make that final putt particularly easy.
5th HOLE. 173 yards. PAR 3. SI 15.
Looks straightforward enough, but trees on the left and rough on the right mean that you need to hit a straight shot here. Do that and feel smug.
6th HOLE. 354 yards. PAR 4. SI 1.
You may wonder why such a short hole should be the toughest hole to make par on. Well, your tee shot from an elevated position is easy enough, provided you don’t stray out of bounds on the right, but then you have a tough decision whether to go for the green situated just the other side of a reedy pond or play safe and lay up in front of the water. There’s also a couple of troublesome nearby oak trees to make things less straightforward than they otherwise might be.
7th HOLE. 397 yards. PAR 4. SI 3.
If you’ve had a bad time on the 6th, this hole should cheer you up, as it’s a straightforward hit it up the fairway two or three times, and there you are. On the other hand, if you fluff your tee shot, it could be a bit of a depressing trudge. We’ve all been there.
8th HOLE. 382 yards. PAR 4. SI 13.
A classic right hand dogleg, so it’s adventurous cutting the corner time for the big boys and a more measured approach by the rest of us, hoping they pay the price for their cavalier antics. And watch out for that inconveniently positioned bunker on the right of the green.
9th HOLE. 534 yards. PAR 5. SI 9.
Get out the heavy duty equipment here, as it is finally longest drive time on a wide fairway where little can go wrong unless you push your shot seriously right. Go for it. A prize and a reputation are at stake. The longest hole on the course closes the front half of things and it’s a nice open affair with few opportunities to sacrifice yet another ball to the golfing gods. A slight dogleg to the left to a green protected by a ditch to the front and some rough stuff to the rear, with a bunker thrown in for good measure.
10th HOLE. 120 yards. PAR 3. SI 16.
A bit of a walk before the second half gets underway with this pleasant par 3, with little to go wrong unless you pull your tee shot a little to the left, in which case you will be fighting your way out of a largish bunker. You have been warned.
11th HOLE. 178 yards. PAR 3. SI 14.
Not the easiest of par 3s, as you need to get the distance right. You can afford to go a bit right, but don’t on any account drift left, as the rough on that side has seen many a search party return home empty handed.
Now this is a delightful hole. A dogleg left, so boom it over the trees for some and an iron to the corner for the others. A big open bunker lurks there, but it’s pretty inocuous, so don’t let it play psychological tricks on you. Then enjoy a clear short iron shot to the green. Leave your bag to the right hand side and take your putter, as you retrace your steps to cut through to the next tee.
13th HOLE. 403 yards. PAR 4. SI 2.
No real problems with this one, which is pretty much straight and straightforward. Just don’t hook your shot or you could end up in the rough around the pylon on the left of the fairway and then it’s time to get out a new ball.
14th HOLE. 408 yards. PAR 4. SI 4.
A straight fairway, but you can’t see the pin, which is over the brow of an incline. You can see a bunker just before the brow, so don’t let it mesmerise you. The other key features on this hole are the trees that line either side of the fairway, so keep on the straight and narrow. Lastly. don’t go over the back of the green, which is all too easy to do.
15th HOLE. 298 yards. PAR 4. SI 10.
The gem of the back 9. Left handed dogleg, and the muscular optimist will be having a go at this one. We will just play a gentle iron shot to the top of the slope down to the green, then avoid the bunker on the right of the green with our second shot. We will also be trying not to get into the rough on the right of the fairway or, indeed, the trees on the left. The green is relatively small with contours that will make you think carefully about the pace and aim of your putt or, more likely, putts.
16th HOLE. 177 yards. PAR 3. SI 6.
Definitely the trickiest of the par 3s. Not so much in terms of distance, but you do have to keep on line, as the gap between the trees that gives you access to the green is a relatively narrow one. You also need to factor in avoiding the tricky bunker which clings to the right flank of the green. Interesting to say the least.
17th HOLE. 106 yards. PAR 3. SI 18.
And now for the nearest the pin. The green is higher than the tee, and there is a bunker lurking in front of the putting area, so it’s not entirely without potential pitfalls, although the biggest risk is probably overclubbing it and going beyond the green. There is quite a slope to the putting surface, which can make getting your par more difficult than the stroke index might suggest.
And finally you stand on the elevated tee, looking down the fairway of the last, with the green looking enticingly within reach. So, too, are a couple of strategically located bunkers on the left and right of the fairway, placed just where they need to be to catch slightly errant balls. But we will give it a final bit of welly and hope for the best.