I had played a round at Reddish Vale in 2012 on my day of arrival at Manchester Airport. The course is quite conveniently located relative to the airport, at least if one has a rental car. Not sure about taxi fares, it might be a bit expensive, and access by train would not really be convenient. That trip was both my first time seeing Reddish Vale as well as my first time meeting RVGC member Duncan Cheslett and long-time GolfClubAtlas correspondent Mark Rowlinson. I recall liking the course even though several days of torrential rain immediately preceding my visit had left some standing water on the 7th, 16th and 17th fairways.
As on that previous visit I picked up a hire car from Hertz and made the 20-minute journey quite easily, this time having benefit of a GPS (aka “Satnav”) rather than trying to read printed directions while driving on the opposite side of the road! I was apprehensive about the weather as once again the days leading up to my arrival were filled with rain showers large and small stretching all the way back through August and into July. Intermittent sprinkles while making my way from airplane to golf course did nothing to help my worries.
During the planning of my trip I had hatched the idea of taking an Associate Membership at Reddish Vale. After consulting with Duncan and with club manager Dave Sanders that became a firm plan and it really worked out well for me. The Associate category allows play on every day except Saturday and allows participation in informal roll-up and pro’s Stableford games but not in official club competitions. The price was extremely reasonable at 65 pounds (about US$100) but does entail paying a small additional fee for each round of golf.
The idea was to make this my home away from home for the week, playing golf several times, joining in some of the informal games and hanging out, getting to know any of the members I might meet around the clubhouse or bar. Everyone I met seemed to think it was a bit novel to have an Associate from America, even if just for a few days. I spent quite a few hours after golf sharing drinks, conversation, the view down the hill into the Vale and one evening even watching cricket of all darned things on the television in the bar.
Duncan and I had planned to play on the Wednesday afternoon of my arrival and play we did…at least until huge, cold rain drops started bucketing down while we were searching for my ball in the rough alongside the 8th fairway. We tried waiting for a few moments under umbrellas but this was no shower. It was a torrent and coming on top of the several inches of rain in the preceding week it almost immediately flooded the saturated putting greens. With the prospect of getting thoroughly wet and then putting on wet greens if we waited, we took the sensible route and retired to the clubhouse.
Thursday I came out to the club mid-morning, had a bite to eat, poked around a bit in the pro shop and clubhouse then introduced myself to Thursday’s noon roll-up. That day there were only three of the regulars, plus myself, so we picked teams and played what turned out to be a rather quickly resolved 4BBB match (my partner and I each having a poor round). Still it was great fun to get in a full round and I was amazed at how well the greens had recovered overnight from what seemed to be a flooded state the previous afternoon. The course in general did have some wet and/or muddy areas but it seemed as the round ended it was drying out even as we played from hole to hole. After golf finished about 3:30pm I went in the bar and found quite a gathering, some players who had played earlier (including our noon fourball) and some members who had just stopped by for an end-of-day beer and good company. There was a day/night 50 Overs cricket game on the television which was watched in a rather desultory manner so as not to interrupt the ongoing conversations.
After 3+ hours I was just starting my goodbyes and thinking of getting back toward my hotel for dinner when my mobile phone buzzed. It was Duncan calling to see how my day had gone. When I mentioned that I was still at the club he replied that he was on his way there for a drink himself. So long story short I ended up sticking around until 8pm and driving back to Wilmslow in the dark (and having a very late dinner).