The Takeaway: A course and club with a distinct American feel located smack dab in the middle of England, JCB is a bold non-links layout on varied terrain that can challenge the best players in the world and famously features an island green par three. Grade B+
Designer: Robin Hiseman 2019
Phone Number: +44 1889 593564
Course Website: Official Website - Visit JCB Golf & Country Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Hollington Rd, Rocester, Uttoxeter ST14 5HY – UNITED KINGDOM
What to Expect: If your GPS didn't tell you differently, you'd swear you were in America when you roll into JCB Golf and Country Club. The vision of billionaire Lord Bamford, JCB is a private facility built with the idea of hosting customers and clients of JCB which is essentially the American equivalent of Caterpillar. The course sprawls out over an expansive property boasting bentgrass greens, plush fairways, and cart paths that run from tee to green. While visions of the surrounding countryside give away its English roots, the course design and routing is very much American in nature and would not be a course many players would elect to walk. If there is one word that sums up JCB best, I would say bold. Bold tee shots, bold bunkering, bold terrain, and a bold experience that is first class. Players will experience large elevation changes, forced carries, and a 7300 yard challenge fit for touring professionals. In fact, the ultimate goal of JCB is to host a European Tour event similar to what fellow equipment manufacturer John Deere does in the States. While the signature island green 17th hole gets all the marketing attention, there are plenty of memorable holes at the Robin Hiseman design with the front and back nines being equally appealing and featuring one of the better opening and closing holes around. The 100+ year old courses in England garner most of the attention, and deservedly so, but JCB is a bold new entrant in Britain that is a totally different experience that is turning heads.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 17th Hole – 255 Yard Par 3 – While most island green par threes don't play terribly long, JCB doesn't let up as it requires players to carry the ball over 250 yards to find the center of the green. The hole plays downhill which helps it not play as long, but it also creates a scenario where the ball has additional hangtime and magnifies the effect of any ball that gets off line. Bunkers come into play which is generally a blessing as it provides for a safe landing to balls that otherwise would have kicked off into the water. Staged so late in the round, this is the type of hole that resides in your head for hours before playing it; and in a match, this can create the swing a player needs that may be trailing. It is a beautiful hole and the clear iconic feature at JCB.
Best Par 3: 9th Hole – 170 Yards – The darling hole at JCB, this attractive one-shotter plays downhill to a green tucked into the hillside and framed by a collection of trees. A quinate of bunkers surround the putting surface with chipping areas found in the front center and rear center that can sometimes be more perilous than being in the sand. The edges of the green slope away and beg players to aim at the center of the putting surface or risk an unsavory result. It is a pretty hole and a fun way to wrap up the front nine.
Best Par 4: 11th Hole – 399 Yards – JCB really shines on the back nine and the 11th hole is a great example of why. At three feet under 400 yards, this classic dogleg hole features a creek up the right side that then bisects the fairway and fronts the entire putting surface. The further left you play it towards safety the longer the approach you'll have into the green. The more aggressive you get on the right side the more trouble you bring into play with a large bunker and the creek lying in wait. The approach shot plays to a shallow green with a large tier and sloping surface which is perfect for the short wedge you'll be attacking the flag with. This hole can be a birdie hole as easily as a bogey hole, just give it the respect it deserves and you should be fine.
Best Par 5: 13th Hole – 627 Yards – A memorable risk/reward par five greets you on the 13th with a blind uphill tee shot featuring a pair of trees that mark the center point of the fairway. Once you crest the hill you'll find the fairway doglegging nearly 90 degrees to the left while a pond flanks the entire right side of the short grass. Players can take the risky shot over the water to a narrow green or they can layup to the corner where the fairway doglegs back 90 degrees to the right. The aggressive play off the tee is to the left of the sentinel trees to set up a good look at the green in two, but tee balls that hang out to the right could tumble into the pond. It is a great match play hole and one that is fun to play each time around.
Birdie Time: 12th Hole – 324 Yard Par 4 – A driveable par four from an elevated tee awaits on the 12th. While a pair of bunkers flank the left side of the fairway, a proper tee shot will carry the sand and utilize the slope which will tumble balls toward the green. Tee shots that leak to the right can find a watery grave with a small creek meandering in front and along the low side of the putting surface. The ultra conserative play is to hit a mid iron short of the bunkers and leave yourself a wedge or 9 iron into the green. Either way you play it, this is a great opportunity to card a birdie.
Bogey Beware: 18th Hole – 462 Yard Par 4 – There are plenty of challenging holes at JCB, but if a tournament is on the line and you get to the 18th, it will seem even harder than it already is. The tee shot plays from the side of the island green 17th and features a forced carry over the water back to dry land. Two lengths of center line bunkers protect the fairway with the left side being the low ground and right side the high ground. Another center bunker bisects the entrance to the green and guides players to go to one side of the putting surface or the other. If there is a hole at JCB that you want to know the pin position on, it is this hole so that you can pick the optimal angle to the green. With a putting surface that slopes right to left and bunkers through the center of the playing ground, you have to be on your game to card a par here.