I'm about to revisit Stockport GC this week and decided to interrupt my giddiness momentarily to tell you about my last visit to this amazing course.
The North West of England is blessed with many outstanding courses most of which are scattered along the coastline in the shape of links affairs. This stretch known as "Englands Golf Coast" really are up there in terms of world class offerings and as much as the "Royals" are fabulous there are many without the regal tag that are of equal pedigree.
Living in south Manchester I hadn't really been aware of Stockport GC until invited on a society to visit last year. How could I possibly have played so many of the regions best without knowing about Stockport is a mystery but nonetheless an amazing surprise.
First off, this Open Qualifier feels like it's in the wrong location. You really could be in the heart of Scotland courtesy of the surrounding scenery and the rural hush which, baring in mind you're not too far from the town is not a sensation to be undervalued.
Then, once in play, you realise that the course is as good as it looks from the clubhouse veranda. I really can't think of a better conditioned course anywhere near this standard in even reasonably close proximity. Fairways are beautifully cut. Greens are immaculately true and splendid to putt on. Tee's are perfect as are the bunkers. All of this greenskeeping is befitting of a fantastic lay out which meanders effortlessly between mature forrest land and countryside.
Whilst not an amazingly long course (it's long enough mind) it's the way every hole has embraced the lay of the land which makes a tough test seem a little easier such is the beauty of each hole.
Dog-legs are an ever-present, Par 3's are tough challenges thanks to the intricacy of each green and certain drives require strategy rather than brawn to give you a chance with your second shot.
As much as there's a wonderfully varied array of great golf it's the quantity of quality that blows you're mind as there really isn't a dip in the standard or excitement all the way round.
I've mentioned before that I like golf courses to offer up a "wow" somewhere in the round to make it into my favoured list and I can honestly say that few courses can compete with Stockport on my "wowscale".
In no particular order and certainly without prejudice i've somehow picked my favourite three. You could genuinely be at Gleneagles standing on the 2nd tee. Flanked by splendid pines and faced with a carry over numerous fairway-filling bunkers it's a gorgeous if daunting prospect to drive into the right area.
The Par-3 eighth had us all take a while to work out. It's longish so the narrow green sliding from left to right on a down hill slope means going straight at it is very difficult on dry days. You really need to club down and try to land left of the target and hope for a favourable kick to get on in one.
My favourite hole though has to be the 14th. Standing on the tee the sweeping dog leg looks astounding. You need to be far enough left to stay up the slope or you'll be blocked out on a blind approach from the bottom of the hill. Truly gobsmacking.
I'd love to have the time to give you an indepth hole-by-hole description of Stockport as by now you've probably worked out that I loved every minute of this place. It's not the easiest to get on (they do accept visitors but few tee times are made available) but for the fee (£55 in the summer) it is worth the advanced effort.
In summary then, I doubt that there are many (if any) inland, parkland courses in the North of England that can offer this level of pristinely presented golfing entertainment, anywhere.
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