Midlands Golfer Review 2014

Just seven miles from the centre of Stoke-on-Trent, Westwood was first founded in 1899 as a nine hole course, the newer back nine was developed in the late 1980's and runs attractively through The Churnet Valley with the river neatly separating the two nines. The opening half presents a real challenge, through undulating terrain that eventually turns spectacular once you reach the highest point of the layout. From the fifth tee stunning views over Leek and beyond over the moorlands to Buxton are the reward for the ascent which isn’t wholly taxing as it’s worth noting that Leek the town itself is already over 500 feet above sea level. Holes four to seven keep you up there on top of an entertaining and very challenging plateau before the downhill eighth brings you back down in style. Quite a unique hole, no easy task to find the very narrow fairway here but if you do there's no stopping a golf ball, an accurate long hitter could reach the edge of the green, all of 347 yards away!

The reasonably modest length of the front nine naturally plays a whole lot longer and you could attribute a number of factors to its difficulty, hanging lies, raised greens, the elements and one or two unlucky bounces can all threaten a scorecard. Keeping it nice and straight off the tee is of paramount importance, very useful too at the three short holes all of which have card wrecking potential. The fourth in particular is a big hit in a breeze at 215 yards in length over the valley.

The closing half is over 500 yards longer with all more or less in sight on level terrain, tree lined with a couple of greenside ponds to be mindful of,  in addition to the winding Churnet. The river crosses the fairway and runs alongside the left side of the green at the delicious looking tenth, a good test of judgement with the greenside bank on the right a potentially useful ally for your second. However the back nine is generally a stretch to suit the long hitters, especially during a closing quartet of holes which will delight them, although very few will threaten the green in two at the monster 17th. From a landscape point of view it could hardly be any different to the front half but despite the changing terrain high quality greens are consistent throughout all 18 holes, it’s a golf course that will reward a good putter.

Westwood Wonder: 5th 556 yards Par 5 – Back to the peak and the views may soon be forgotten once you survey the task in hand. Out of bounds to the left and the humped fairway has a little bit of a hit and hope element about it. A favourable breeze and bounce could encourage you to have a go for it in two but you can ill afford to miss the green which is protected by steep banking at the front and trees at the rear. Best to rein it in a bit and play it as a true par five, in any eventuality you’ll talk about this one in the clubhouse afterwards.

19th hole : The clubhouse was constructed in 1992, the first floor bar/lounge area overlooks the riverside ninth green and the parkland holes further beyond. Two function rooms cater for society occasions, parties, weddings and club social events. Westwood, a long renowned friendly club has good society deals on offer and membership benefits which include complimentary golf at three affiliated local clubs.

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