DRIVING through the densely residential area of Reddish, near Stockport,it is difficult to imagine that there would be space for a practice putting green let alone the 5,978 yard green oasis that is Houldsworth golf course.
Houldsworth began life in 1910, acquiring its name from Sir William Houldsworth, M.P for North-West Manchester. Back then the course lay on farmland, but the World Wars and property speculation saw it gradually transform into parkland.
Nowadays, surrounded by houses and a defunct railway, it provides a haven for both golfers and wildlife.
In recent years Houldsworth has received a facelift. It now boasts a majestic clubhouse and four excellent new holes.
Water hazards are a major feature of this course, and the 1st, a par five, immediately bring the golfer into competition with the wet stuff.
Another avoidance for players on many of the holes are the strategically placed bunkers, that for an average club golfer are right on a driving distance.
The par three 7th tee runs frighteningly close to the houses, with Chaucer Avenue waiting to gobble up any wayward hit to the right. This hole is followed by a great little par four.At just 326 yards, the 8th, tests accuracy rather than distance. Residential establishments again hog the right-hand side while on the left, there is a large pond to negotiate, leaving quite a narrow driving area.
The greens are well-kept, and with their undulations, they provide a real challenge, none more so than on the 10th with its tiered green making life very difficult.
Houldsworth has several holes that dog-leg, particularly on the back nine. The 11th forces the golfer to hit the ball from right to left. The tee overlooks the old railway line, that is currently being re-generated for cyclist access to the Commonwealth Games.
The 12th hole is currently a short par five but there are plans to bring the tee slightly further forward and make the hole a par four.
David Naylor, club professional, said: "This is because the general opinion is that the hole is too easy as a five and would be much better as a four."
A really cracking finish to the round begins at 13 (right) where water runs the length of the hole, down the right, and with everything sloping down that way, a good drive down the left is required. The approach shot into the green is particularly daunting, as you attempt to find a green that is surrounded predominantly by water.
With that demanding hole safely negotiated (or maybe not!) there's no respite on the next. The par three is all carry over water, and with the wind into the golfers face, it can be a long iron or even a wood for some.
Another super hole is the new 15th where there are two choices off the tee. The longer hitters among you can ignore the 90 degree dog-leg and go straight for the green, if you're feeling brave.
Most of us will drive to the shoulder, avoiding the cleverly-placed bunkers on the left and right, and play a mid-iron into the green.
Holes 16, 17 and 18 are the other new holes that provide a fine finish to a lovely course.
Striding up the 18th you play in the shadow of the magnificent looking former Houldsworth cotton mill, now refurbished as offices.
The clubhouse is still only eight-years-old and as you would expect is designed with all the needs of the golfer in mind, providing a lovely 19th hole, changing facilities, snooker table, good range of value-for-money food and full bar services.
Staff at Houldsworth are friendly and welcoming and the club are happy to welcome visitors and societies.
So if the Trafford Centre is bulging and you fancy a little piece of tranquility why not make the short trip to Houldsworth and examine your golfing talents against this testing little challenge.