Why four-star Shropshire hotel has got the golf staycation down to a tee
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There's something about golf that fascinates me, no matter how well or badly I play, and as I arrived at Telford Hotel & Golf Resort in Shropshire for two rounds and an overnight stay, I was wondering which one of my golfing personas was going to be present.
Early signs were good as my friend and I arrived well in time for our 11.30am tee-off, with the weather cold but kind as the sun glistened above the first tee, providing a beautiful backdrop to the immaculate green views that only a golf course can provide.
The standard of play wasn't bad either, at least in terms of my playing partner, but I was heartened to learn there wouldn't be too many lost balls thanks to the long wide fairways and dearth of thick rough, with only the giant autumn leaves proving an issue when it came to ball-spotting.
When playing any course for the first time, getting your bearings can be tricky and a few times we struggled to find the next tee when signposts would have helped, but what Telford lacks in course markings is offset by the beauty of its sweeping long holes, perfectly-maintained greens and welcoming presence of wildlife.
Some holes are a real challenge, like the dog-leg eighth over water and the extremely tough 515-yard 17th, which was uphill and seemed never-ending.
Trudging wearily towards the 18th green, my GPS watch confirmed it was the longest round of golf I had ever played, but that may have been down to extra walking to retrieve the wayward slices and hooks.
Tired but content with our rounds, we checked into the hotel before heading to the Restaurant Bar for a few deserving pints of Pravha, taking in the relaxed atmosphere and chatting to hotel guests and friendly staff, who revealed that Sunderland FC were taking residence before their night match in nearby Shrewsbury.
Feeling refreshed, we retired to our room to spruce up before dinner. There are 114 rooms in total, with many boasting stunning views over the Ironbridge Gorge which takes its name from the famous iron bridge, the first of its kind in the world.
Ours was a classic room with comfortable twin beds, en-suite bathroom and all the modern furnishings ideal for short stays, including a giant wall-mounted television which you could view from just about anywhere.
Dinner was in the large and lively 1779 Restaurant, which serves a variety of seasonal dishes from an ever-changing menu, including pies, burgers, steak, schnitzel and salmon, all cooked up by the hotel's team of talented chefs.
Feeling hungry and with carb-building in mind for the following day, we both opted for the Steak and Doom bar ale pie which had lovely thick pastry, was generously filled and came with a choice of thick-cut chips or mash. Preceding that were starters of Potato and Leek soup with crusty bread and BBQ glazed meatballs, which were also delicious.
Breakfast the following morning was equally hearty as we stocked up on the hot buffet options of a full English and bacon sandwiches. There's also plenty of choice for those with lighter appetites thanks to the generous selection of breads, pastries, cereals and yoghurts.
So for round two, and although the weather was a little greyer, for me the day's play was in complete contrast to the first and, 21 shots better off, it ended up being my best round for several years. Unsure of where the sudden upturn in performance came from, it just confirmed to me why golf is the most baffling of sports. But maybe that's why we love it.
Telford Hotel & Golf Resort is part of the QHotels Group. Price for one night and two rounds of golf from £85pp and two nights with two rounds from £149pp. Classic double and twin rooms start at £78 a night, but can go up based on busyness and dates. Deluxe king rooms are from £98 a night.
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