Club Profile: Broughton Heath – a thriving par three golf course

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 19, 2011 14:00

The current trend in building golf courses of over 7,000 yards which, quite simply, are no fun for the average player, is one of the more disturbing features of the modern game. Despite modern club technology, it is still the shot into the green that is the most important. It is therefore very refreshing that some developers have realised that length is not everything.

Broughton Heath, in the Derbyshire countryside not far from Dovedale in the tiny village of Church Broughton, is an 18-hole golf course with 18 par three holes. But this is not your average short course.

Just over 17 years ago, farmer Brian Sessions invited builder Ken Tunnicliffe, a keen golfer, to convert some of his barns. Ken suggested that Brian’s land would be ideal for a short golf course. Forty-five acres were available and Ken visited many courses in search of ideas.

He produced an eclectic design incorporating a Mackenzie green, an upturned saucer green reminiscent of Donald Ross, challenging bunkers totally different from the American-style flat traps from which a wood can be employed, and strategically placed ponds, fed by a stream crossing fairways at crucial points.

Work began on the first 12 holes in 1994 and they were ready for play in April 1998; by September that year all 18 were open. The clubhouse was ready two months later.

In 1999 the course, of over 3,000 yards, was affiliated to the English Golf Union and in 2000 the ladies became affiliated to the Derbyshire Ladies’ County Golf Association. Brian Sessions had modified some of the holes to attain this. More recently a new greenkeeper ‘revolutionised’ the course, which on the day of my visit was immaculate; the generously-proportioned greens presented true and subtle putting surfaces; good lies were to be found on every fairway and the water hazards were clearly marked to strike fear into the player on the tee. Work continues on further refinements to the course.

The occasion of the visit was a four counties under-14 team championship for boys from Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire. Jeremy Greenfield, a former Cheshire county player, whose son was playing, expressed relief that he was not playing as he considered the course too difficult! Some of the boys provided evidence that this was a pessimistic view.

Roy Case of Nottinghamshire and Midland Golf Unions suggested that a similar event be held for all ten Midland counties at that age level. The same county’s junior delegate immediately booked the course for coaching purposes. There is also a driving range, as yet not open, and a chipping area. The tiny pro shop is as well stocked as that in many private members’ clubs.

Five holes measure 200 yards or more, the longest being 225 yards while the shortest is just 115 yards, so all the clubs in the bag are needed and on the longer holes many golfers will be taking woods off the tee. The full length is 3,135 yards from the white tees and 2,925 from the yellow markers, while from the red tees the ladies have 3,035 yards to contend with.

Jim Bentley joined the club when he felt a shorter test would suit him and soon became involved with the club of which he is now the manager, while Brian and Jackie Sessions run the well-stocked bar (real ale available!) and the excellent catering. Jim explained that the PGA held a short-course qualifier at Broughton Heath in 2002, when Mike Gallagher of Peterborough Milton set a record of 51 against a standard scratch of 53, one below the par figure. Second was Robert Rock with 53. Neither achieved similar figures subsequently.

The club now a thriving membership. Some belong to other clubs but enjoy the challenges this shorter course provides without excessive climbing or the need to hit a driver from every tee. Those who scorn ‘short courses’ will soon think again after visiting Broughton Heath, described as the best short course in the country. It is a good test for any golfer as well as an ideal starter course.

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 19, 2011 14:00
Write a comment

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

Let me tell You a sad story ! There are no comments yet, but You can be first one to comment this article.

Write a comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:

For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: