Frilford Heath Golf Club… Introduction

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest things about playing golf in England during the summer months is that one or two times a year when you get a spectacular evening playing twilight golf. This is what Frilford Heath Golf Club offered us…

You can’t beat it…

Course is usually empty as all the old boys have played their morning round, the weather can be perfectly still and warm (yes! Warm in England) and the light is perfect. That golden warm sunshine in the evening and a stunning sunset.

Perfection…

Well… when I played Frilford Heath Golf Club, we lucked out and got one of these days.

I played with a good friend of mine who lives in Oxfordshire and we decided to play somewhere decent on a spare Friday afternoon. Enter Frilford Heath.

Frilford Heath has three 18 hole courses, the Red, Green and Blue.

The Red is the one everyone comes to play and is the one ranked #93 in the top 100 courses. This is, of course, the one we came to play and at £36 for twilight golf during the week, its an absolute steal.

The other two courses are (so I’ve been told) very good courses too with the Green being slightly shorter 6,000 yard par 69 and the Blue having been opened in 1994, measuring 6,728 from the back tips.

Before we got there, I phoned up the pro shop and asked about getting a tee time on the Red, thinking that we may struggle given its summer and the Red is the most prestigious of the three courses.

The young pro, who was incredibly friendly, simply advised that there was a society booked from 1-2pm and the course would be free thereafter. They do not take tee times and we simply turned up, paid the green fee and off we went. Very refreshing!

Sadly, I played this course before I started this blog so didn’t take many photos. Hopefully I will be back though as it’s a great place to play golf.

Frilford Heath Golf Club (Red Course)…The Facts

– Architect: JH Taylor
– Date Opened: 1908
– Location: Abingdon, Oxfordshire
– Rank: #93 (www.top100golfcourses.co.uk)
– Tees Played: Yellows (6,486 yards)
– Other Tees: Whites (6,775 yards), Blacks (7,015yards)
– Fees: £36 (Twilight weekday)
– Date Played: August 2016
– Website: www.frilfordheath.co.uk

The Course

The Red Course at Frilford Heath Golf Club was originally designed by JH Taylor and opened back in 1908. There have been some recent changes to the course, and this was apparent as my aerial view on the GPS app showed bunkers in different positions!

Talking to some of the members, the recent changes have been very well received, but they would say that!

Having been on the Frilford Heath Golf Club website and seen that the course has hosted the English Amateur Championships in 2013, been a European Tour Qualifying School venue from 2010 and an Open Qualifying course from 2016…

I expected big things and was really looking forward to playing…

Some of the stand out holes for me:

Hole 2 – Par 5 (510 yards)

A testing drive with the ideal line flirting with the bunker on the left and landing the ball in a blind spot on the fairway.

The bunkers were well positioned to pick up any loose shots of the tee and there was enough incentive to go for the green in two with a fairway wood as there was only one bunker guarding the green to the left.

Hole 9 – Par 3 (173 yards)

Fantastic signature par 3 over water.

The hole is lined by trees either side and demands a quality tee shot. Anything going left, right or short will be punished and two greenside bunkers left and right guard the green.

Hole 13 – Par 4 (338 yards)

Lovely short par 4 with a severe dog-leg left.

Classic risk/reward type hole with the safe play going for the middle of the visible part of the fairway with an iron, but the risk short cutting the dog-leg with a wood.

Hole 15 – Par 4 (400 yards)

Downhill slight dog-leg left par 4.

Visually stunning hole with a downhill approach to the green guarded front left and right by bunkers.

Hole 16 – Par 4 (319 yards)

My favourite hole on the course. Short par 4 with an elevated tee and small valley to hit over.

The correct play is up the left of the fairway for an easier approach to the green, but this takes you closer to the woodland trouble to the left. Green has a bunker in front, so an aerial route needed to the green.

After 17 enjoyable holes, its such a shame to get to the 18th! Not because its near to the end of the round, but the 18th is such a terrible hole to finish on. Its only 292 yards off the yellows (305 yards off the back), which on paper makes it drivable, however, there is zero chance you would go for it.

The car park to the club forms OB to the left and it is very much in play. Anything with a hook shape off the tee is going into the car park! Woodland up the right forces an iron off the tee which is not what you want on the last hole.

The 18th is short, tight and not fun to play…

Another minor criticism, and this is very personal, but I love golf courses with undulations. I like to see the course in front of my (well for inland courses I do) and I love elevated tee shots. I found that the Red Course had some elevation in parts, but the majority of the course seem quite flat. It was perhaps lacking the drama which some other courses have in the Top 100.

Overall, the course is great to play, was in fantastic condition and its clear to see why its ranked (just) in the Top 100 in England. A true test.

Frilford Heath Golf Club

Final Thoughts

In an effort not to let the stunning evening twilight golf weather cloud my judgement of the quality of the course, I can honestly say, that this is a fantastic place to play golf.

Frilford Heath Golf Club is a place that I would happily join if I lived round the corner!

The club itself is spoiled with three courses, excellent clubhouse and good practice facilities. It’s a beautiful and peaceful setting with lovely landscape which the course has been set into. You can see the maturity of the course. The bunkering is very strong, and this has probably been made stronger with the recent changes.

So why is the Red Course at Frilford Heath Golf Club not ranked higher in the Top 100 golf courses?

For me the 18th hole on the Red Course is a terrible finishing hole. Such a disappointment to get to this hole after a great run of holes from 13 to 17.

The stretch of holes from 5 to 8 were very similar. I can’t remember which was which when looking back.

There are only three Par 3’s. This, to me, is the biggest issue as its only the Par 3 9th which is truly great out of these three holes. The other two short holes are nice, but not nice enough when compared to other courses in the Top 100.

In summary though, and as always when trying to find negative points to courses in the Top 100, these are only small negatives when looking at the bigger picture.

Frilford Heath Golf Club is a perfect place to spend an afternoon playing our beautiful game and I thoroughly recommend the twilight offer they have here, it cannot be beaten for value.

For other course reviews, please go to my challenge progress page and to see what this Top 100 Challenge is all about, click this link.