DESCRIBED by many as being Warwickshire’s hidden gem, Stoneleigh Deer Park is set amongst 225 acres of stunning countryside between the ancient towns of Warwick, Kenilworth, Leamington Spa and Coventry.
The challenging 18-hole Tantara course offers a varied landscape with its many ancient oak and chestnut trees, some reputed to be over 300 years old and among the oldest in Europe.
The nine-hole par 3 Avon course is located in the middle of its bigger brother and offers the perfect place for those who wish to improve their short-iron play or learn the game.
The beautiful River Avon runs through the centre of both layouts, creating a natural golfing hazard on several holes.
Stoneleigh Deer Park relies on its mature trees to challenge the golfer, not length. The homeward half is a mere 2,666 yards but if you think that means you will pitch up and burn it up you will be disappointed.
The first of three consecutive par 5s is the 3rd. At 481 yard, this is the shortest of the trio but the fairway dog-legs slightly to the left, so a drive to the right-hand side ...
Thatsaid, if you manage your game properly – which ultimately means keeping out of the trees! – you can score well.
It should also be pointed out that this relatively short back nine includes four par 3s; all but one of the two shotters are all over 360 yards with the 16th a 440-yard beast.
The 1st, Deer's Leap, asks exacting initial questions. It is an uphill 386-yard par 4 which requires a solid tee shot to give you a chance of par. You must be wary of the second shot playing longer than you think to a green that slopes from left to right.
The first of three consecutive par 5s is the 3rd. At 481 yard, this is the shortest of the trio but the fairway dog-legs slightly to the left, so a drive to the right-hand side of the fairway is required.
The green is set into a severe left to right slope – miss right at your peril. Any putt from above the hole will be treacherous, so this is no easy birdie chance.
The first of the four par 3s on the back nine is the 11th, which measures 138 yards. Anything left or right leaves a very delicate chip or pitch and it you find the front of the green your ball may well roll back towards you.
The next asks you to fire a blind tee shot over the hill. If you hit your drive left on this 306- yard par 4 it will end up in the trees. Rough awaits on the right. The hole then plays downhill to a small green which requires a well-struck, high-flying approach to hold the green.
The 16th is the most difficult hole at Stoneleigh, a 440-yard par 4 where the last 200 yards is played uphill to a small circular green. The bottom of the pin cannot be seen from the fairway so pulling the right club from the bag is paramount.