Frilford’s most recent addition, the Blue course, was opened in 1994 to great acclaim. Oxfordshire architect Simon Gidman, whose training in the long-established firm of Hawtree makes him a design descendent of JH Taylor, Frilford’s first architect, took 169 acres of adjoining farmland, and sculpted a course every bit the equal of the older tracks.
The new land had fewer natural features than that occupied by the Red and Green, but it still had the precious sandy soil that makes Frilford what Bernard Darwin called ‘a wonderful oasis in the sea of mud’. Gidman used this sandy soil to build sweeping features that give the course a more modern feel than Frilford’s others, with hollows, swales and depressions adding to the interest.
The layout explores every feature of the site and the par fives and par threes in particular all face different directions and set different tests. There are birdies to be had, even though, at 6,728 yards, the course is a considerable challenge. Equally there are two par fives – and the 600 yard monster that is the seventeenth hole is prime among them – that, without pinpoint accuracy on drive and second shot, a par will be almost impossible.
The Blue’s greens are more severely undulating than those of the Red or Green, and thus put a premium on putting. The bunkering too is bold and challenging. A different course it may be, but no-one who plays the Blue at Frilford will feel hard done by.