Now this is going back in time more than a little, as the round in question was played on October 5th in balmy, almost summery conditions, which made the experience all the more remarkable. The recollection, however, remains keen and undimmed, as Remedy Oak – despite its relative youth, having opened as recently as 2006 – is a very special course indeed. It’s an Open qualifying venue, which tells you something about the quality and challenge of the place. So how does an ordinary golfer make it on to such rareified tees? By knowing someone who has just had a notable birthday and has a wife sufficiently generous and imaginative to buy him a fourball there, that’s how.
From the moment you are buzzed through the big security gates and then drive for several minutes through rich Dorset farmland before the clubhouse comes into view, you know you are in no ordinary surroundings. The welcome when you get there is genuinely warm and friendly, and as the starter invites you on to the first (perfectly manicured) tee, you know you are in for a remarkable and entertaining four hours. The course, designed by John Jacobs, is sculpted out of beautifully mature Dorset woodland, with a fair bit of water for good measure, and is a thing of beauty, or rather 18 things of beauty, and that’s without reckoning in the velvet-turfed fairways and closely shaved greens. The four tee boxes (the purples make for a course length of over 7000 yards) tailor the severity of the undertaking to the capabilities of the player: we played off the yellows to face a sensible challenge of 6053 yards.
The signature hole of the course comes early in the form of the double dogleg par 5 second, and it certainly does sum up the beauties and the challenges of Remedy rather well. Your tee shot requires you to clear an expanse of scrub (most tee shots here do, so you can’t ever afford to top it) and place your ball pretty precisely on the fairway (again, most fairway shots require accurate positioning) to allow you to play another precise shot through the avenue of trees to land just short of the water, over which you will play diagonally to reach the green. Go right on your third shot and you are in the wet stuff, push it left and you are in the gorse bushes. Get it just right and you can stroll across the little arched bridge that takes you to the green with the air of a golfer who knows what he is doing.
The toughest hole on the course, the par 4 7th is another exercise in shot judgement. Unless you are pretty long off the tee, you are unlikely to reach the sharp dogleg right and so have a clear view of the green; the greater likelihood is that you will be faced with a mid iron over a bosky little valley to the castellated green. Challenging stuff indeed. The 150 yard 9th brings you back to the clubhouse and a welcome midway refreshment tent before you stride off into the woods again, with two beautifully crafted par threes coming in quick succession on the 11th and 13th holes.
The gently arcing par 5 15th is also a particular joy, as is the simple but beautiful par 4 that follows it, and all too soon you are facing the peculiar challenges of the 308 yard par 4 last hole. Don’t underestimate your tee shot, as leave it even a few yards short of requirements and you won’t have a proper line across the large pond to the green way below you on the other side. To make your final iron shot even more knee-trembling you are in full view of the clubhouse as you pluck the club from your bag, take aim and fire across the water, hoping you don’t mishit it and take out the members relaxing on the terrace.
And, the early October weather being kind, that is where we relaxed ourselves and relived the better – and the worse – moments of our round. Remedy is a special course, with the particular characteristic of making you feel like the only group on the course much of the time, such is the effect of the wooded setting of each hole. It’s not easy, but – as mentioned – its challenges are tailored to the level of the player, and you will certainly want to return and face them again. Highly recommended.