Caversham Heath is a newcomer to the stable of courses in Berkshire having only been opened at the turn of the millennium. However, don’t let its age fool you, Caversham Heath is starting to put its name firmly on the golfing map having held Euro Pro Tour events amongst others in the last couple of years. Designed by David Williams, the challenging 7151 yard layout has a maturity seen at other courses with years on Caversham. Built to exacting USGA standards with full irrigation, the 18 hole course plays well throughout the year – I’m sure the members aren’t complaining. A full variety of holes and various teeing options make this course engaging for all.
The course starts with a gentle opener. At 387 yards off the back tees, your tee shot needs to be aimed between the two fairway bunkers favouring the right hand side as the fairway slopes from right to left and narrows dramatically the further you go. This will leave you a short iron into the green, a feature of the course are the green complexes at Caversham, unusually large with many having tiers to keep you on your toes. The course really gets going on the 3rd with a sharp left to right dogleg par 4, a drive of some 220 yards off the back tees will get you to the edge of the dogleg as it turns towards a green heavily guarded by bunkers on both sides, although short at 392 yards, it commands your concentration at all times. Onto the 4th and the first par 5 at Caversham Heath, this hole is all about getting your tee shot away, longer hitters can take it over the edge of the trees on the right on this slight left to right dogleg. But with OOB running down the entire right side only the most committed swing will suffice. The safer shot is to hit a sliding fade off the bunkers to the left. Once the tee shot is safely negotiated a birdie is very much on the cards. Following the par 4 5th hole comes another par 5 at 552 yards. The 6th is one of the signature holes on the course and is a classic risk reward hole. Get a big drive away and you will be mighty tempted to go for the green in two, the problem being the big pond that starts 35 yards short and right of the green that creeps up right to the edge of the green… a cracking hole that can be played many ways. The front 9 finishes off with a strategic 357 yard par 4 with the recommended play to be an iron off the tee to avoid the trees on the left. The green is the main defence here and can quite easily humiliate the best of putters if you find yourself on the wrong side of the pin.
The back 9 gets started on a strong note with the 397 yard 10th. From the elevated tee everything is visible in front of you, care needs to be taken to avoid the bunkers guarding either side of the fairway. Take note of the pin position here and be careful not to get suckered into a front pin position. Anything short will get caught up in a deep bunker making par difficult. Through 11 and 12 you find yourself standing on the par 3 13th hole, at 202 yards this tough par 3 is exposed to the wind and plays uphill making club selection crucial. The three bunkers covering the front and right edge of the green will snap up any tee shot slightly off line, par is a good score. The 15th hole is the last of the 4 par 5s on the course, a very well placed bunker creeping in on the right hand side of the fairway needs to be avoided off the tee. From here it plays uphill to the green where the longer hitter can reach in two, for the shorter hitter laying up, care needs to be taken to avoid a large fairway bunker 40 yards long on the left. Onto the final trio and a strong set of holes to finish up an enjoyable and challenging round. The par 4 16th with its unique double green sharing with the 6th and the tough par 3 17th both have water to negotiate whilst the 18th at 427 yards requires an accurate drive into the valley. The two tiered green is trademark Caversham Heath and is a superb ending to the course here.
Caversham Heath offers up a real test to the scratch/pro golfer whilst still being accessible to the higher handicapper courtesy of the teeing options, something not every club has to offer.