A Professional’s Top Tips For Winter Golf

Golf Director Peter Smith has a wealth of experience playing in all weathers and seasons. Here are a few of his top tips to help you continue practice and improvement over the fothcoming months.
Winter Golf

Playing golf over the winter months has its challenges, therefore ‘Winter Rules’ are introduced at golf clubs. Below are the main details of how they affect the game and what you are allowed to do.

Winter Rules

During the winter months most golf clubs bring in ‘Winter Rules’ for golf for two main reasons:
1. The ground conditions are much wetter either through rain or by dew.
2. The ground due to its softness, make the ball collect mud and dirt. Therefore the ‘winter rules’ help a golfer rather than penalize a golfer, so that they can play their best golf when playing on a much wetter playing surface.

The two main benefits to these rules are as follows:

A Ball lying on a closely-mown area through the green (fairway, approach or collar to the green) may, without penalty, be marked, moved or lifted, cleaned and placed within six inches of where it originally lay, but not nearer to the hole and not in a hazard or on a putting green.

A player may move or place his ball once and after the ball has been moved or placed, it is in play. Relief from embedded ball (Appendix 1, Part 2, Point 3) ‘Through the green’, (not just closely-mown areas) a ball that is embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground, other than sand, may be marked, lifted without penalty, cleaned and dropped as near as possible to where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must strike a part of the course through the green.

Other considerations for golf in the winter months

In the autumn period, many leaves fall on the golf course, which makes finding a golf ball quite difficult at times, therefore if you hit your golf ball to an area where it may not be found, play a ‘provisional’ ball.

If you do not find your first ball but you find the second ball ‘the provisional ball’ you can then play that ball, but you must add on an extra two shot for that hole. I.e. tee off (1 shot), play a provisional ball (1 shot) and the next time you hot the provisional ball that is then your third shot. Make sure you ‘mark’ your golf ball, to make it easier to identify and prevents hitting somebody else’s golf ball my mistake. You can mark your ball in many ways, put coloured spots in a few dimples, add your initials etc. If you are playing when the course is frosty or frozen and everything appears white, then it is often a good idea to play a ball with a different colour than white, to make it easier to find. Many people play with yellow or orange golf balls in these conditions.

Wine Tasting and Cocktail Making

Are you are looking for something a little different to reward your delegates with after a hard day’s work? Why not test our experts and try a wine tasting session before dinner? Julie Weston, our Events Manager, explains more.


Blind tasting is always a fun way to challenge your taste buds, (don’t worry, no blindfolds are used). The wine is poured before you arrive to ensure there will be no cheating.

Throughout the session, our knowledgeable sommelier will give you a lesson in how to taste wine, and pass on lots of interesting facts about grape varieties and regions to wet your appetite for the tasting. And possibly help you determine their origin.

If you fancy yourself as a budding Tom Cruise, we could arrange a cocktail making master class, with plenty of testing and even the opportunity to mix your own creation!

Don’t have too much fun, in case there is a second day of concentration required!

Ask our conference experts about adding on something different to your residential conference, or for their team building ideas.

Change Your Routine to Keep Seeing Results

You’ve set yourself a hard gym routine to help get you through the summer season, now it’s time to make a change to keep on seeing those results. Phoebe McCully, a Senior Fitness Instructor at our Health Club, gives us some top tips.

 Matrix gym cardio suite at Donnington Valley

Sticking to the same routine can be very easy and comfortable, but at some point, your routine may not give you the results you want, so you need to shake things up. Changing your workout routine can be a motivator and may make things more interesting for you.

You work hard in the gym trying to find the routine that suits you. You start the routine and you notice that it is helping you make the changes that you want, so you stick with it. However, after a few months you may notice that the changes you liked to see have stopped appearing. The reason this happens is because repetition means the body can adapt. It will know what to expect and will then use less energy.

So here aresome signs that you can look for when deciding if you should change up your routine.

Do you get bored in the gym? Are you noticing fewer results? You find the workout less challenging? If you have answered yes to any of these questions then you need to mix things up!

Instead of just spending your amount of time on the treadmill, or cross trainer at a constant speed, I recommend our clients try our new ‘Sprint 8’ software. It is designed to help improve fitness levels, and burn away fat. It will be hard and will kick-start your body into making those changes again.

Mix up your strength routine by adding in a super set, to challenge your muscles even more. Finish the reps on the exercise that you are doing and then go straight into another one for the same muscle group. Super sets will help improve your endurance and build muscle.

If you make changes you will keep seeing results, and you will stay motivated. Try to make a change every four to six weeks. To help you make the right changes, why not book in for a review with the Fitness team? We would be only too happy to help and you never know how it will change the way you feel about your routine fore the better.

Upcoming Events this September

With summer drawing to a close and early signs of the Autumn onset starting to show, Newbury continues to maintain its calendar of ever- buzzing activity to get us out in the Autumn sunshine!


Royal Country of Berkshire Show

19th September – 20th September   

This annual family event is a highlight in Newbury’s social calendar. It’s a fun filled weekend for all the family to enjoy. Don the wellies and wrap up warm – it is sure to be a wonderful weekend with something to keep everyone happy. From furry farm animals to a selection of Britain’s finest foods, this is one for all the family.

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Newbury Real Ale Festival

12th September 

Live bands and beer… just what Saturday dreams are made of. With over 150 real ales, ciders and perrys for everyone to try and also a range of food options, including multiple hog roasts. Newbury’s annual Real Ale Festival is back and with a growing cult following, this year is bound to be better than before. Join and support local bands and breweries – and enjoy yourself very much! Opening Hours from 12 noon.

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Music in Victoria Park Bandstand

6th September      City of Oxford Silver Band

13th September    Hannington Silver Band

20th September    Cholsey Silver Band

27th September    Reading Spring Gardens Band

This September, take time for yourself and get lost in our local talent playing at the bandstand at Victoria Park in Newbury. Wrap up warm and join for a couple of hours of relaxation alongside the Kennet & Avon canal. Pack the picnic rugs and refreshments and pick from a selection of dates to suit you.

Playing between 15:00 – 17:00

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Burgundy Grand Cru Dinner

Wednesday 9th September

7pm arrival for 7.30pm

Grand Cru – The best of the best. There are 32 Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy, accounting for less than 2 percent of all Burgundy wine production.  Esteemed by wine experts and cellar aficionados alike, this region also makes wines that match superbly with foods. Join our hosts for the night, including our wine expert James Hocking to learn more – and to enjoy imbibing! This is a unique event at The Vineyard; the first time that we have raided our cellar to show off some of our very best wines. Often referred to as “the holy grail” of wine producing regions, this is a dinner not to be missed!

Five course dinner with matching wines £150 per person

Stay the night with breakfast from £173.50 per person*

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How The Weather Affects The Game of Golf

Playing the game of golf is affected by many variations but the main one is the weather and the UK weather in particular. Our weather can be wet, cold, hot, frosty and windy or a combination of a couple of these, which can make the game even trickier.


If you play golf during the summer, then besides having to make sure you keep yourself cool and well hydrated while protecting against sunburn, you also need to adjust your game and the shots you play.

The temperature of the golf ball also makes it travel differently due to the rubber used to make the ball, due to its density. A golf ball will travel further when warm due to its resiliency and also provide more spin, which with a ‘draw shot’ will increase its distance even further.

The counter to this is when the air is thick, either by rain or cold air, and the ball will travel less distance, so it is important to select the correct club for a certain distance based on changes in the weather and the air’s temperature. You may have to hit a club or two longer to cover the normal distance you would hit in the warm summer months.

Also when it is warmer the course conditions also change; the fairways and approaches become firmer, so the ball travels much further once it hits the ground. Therefore you need to factor this in before selecting the club you will hit and maybe use a shorter iron.

So why not come along and test your summer golfing ability on our beautiful 18 hole parkland course?


Celebrating The Very Seasonal Produce of Game

To celebrate the Glorious Twelfth and the start of the shooting season, one of our chefs Rocky has looked at the very seasonal produce of game.


Towards end of August beginning of September we start to see fresh, in-season game available. And two of my favourites have to be venison and pigeon.

Venison is a great substitute to beef, and can be used and cooked in many ways. Now that the deer have had most the year to graze and grow they are at the perfect size, with the perfect depth to their meat. The haunch is where you’re likely to find the best flavoured meat. And of course, the loin needs no describing.

Anyone for venison steaks? If you are cooking for yourself at home, always keep the meat pink, no more than medium as it will start to dry and lose its rich flavour. Also while cooking keep basting it, really helps to keep it succulent.

It is worth remembering that anything you can do with beef, venison can do, and sometimes better. Venison sausages for breakfast, venison burger on the barbecue the last of the sun goes…even warming cottage pie with venison mince on the colder nights. Combinations I’ve always found to work well together are dark chocolate, as it helps bring out the richness. Also berries are a good friend of venison meat and a venison steak with berry compote or slow-cooked venison with berries is divine.

Pigeon is another favourite of mine, but don’t think you can just swap it for chicken in all your dishes. Best at the start of September when they are at their plumpest, there is a high danger of overcooking pigeon and making it tough. It just needs to be lightly fried in a hot pan. Marinating in red wine (or any spirit) helps to maintain its tenderness and add a little more flavour to it.

For a little home comfort, pigeon pie is a good option and one I often make at home myself. The great thing is that all of the bird can be used, even its legs. Fruit again is a good companion for pigeon, but go for your less ‘fruity’ fruits. Apricots and apples work well as a marinade, sauce or even fried with the breast.

Alternatively, pop in to the hotel and there will be a good chance that you’ll see it on one of my menus in the WinePress restaurant: ready for you to experience something new.

Wedding Tips at Donnington Valley

In our final of our series of wedding planning blogs we finish with top tips on choosing the wedding entertainment. Our Special events co-ordinator Katie Foulds gives a few tips –to help you plan the perfect day.

Weddings at Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa tumblr_n1cddg2EnO1rb1u9do1_1280

Entertainment is a huge factor to consider in the wedding planning process, and it should be given due consideration sooner rather than later! Because admit it; more often than not, your guests will not be able to recall the theme of your wedding cake or your beautiful centrepieces, but they will remember gettin’ down without a care with all the new friends they’ve made. And you will never forget seeing all of the most important people in your world dancing together as if they’ve known each other for ever. Or… you’ll remember how the wedding ended at 10:30pm…

There is a lot to consider, starting with the big one: wedding band versus DJ? While there are certainly pros and cons to both wedding bands and DJs, it’s hard to bring a party to life the same way live music can. Still, even once you’ve decided this, there are so many more questions: a harp player or an acoustic guitarist? Should the ceremony music be the same as the reception? What style of band is best for all wedding guests? To avoid becoming overwhelmed, consider your vision for the wedding reception. You know you’ve always had at least a semblance of one. Close your eyes and imagine it. Different visions call for different music: a soothing acoustic set would be perfect for a casual daytime garden reception, while a rollicking variety band has something for everyone and can set the tone for an unforgettable dance party.

To bring a touch of class to your drinks reception or even your wedding breakfast a modern harpist will bring some sophistication to your wedding. I could not recommend anyone better than Angela Moore, who adds notes of sophistication and emotion to everything from the smallest wedding party to celebrity marriages.

After such a wonderful day, the best way for everyone to let their hair down and to finish with a bang is with a fabulous live band. It will help add the wow factor, of a band that will play everyone’s favourite party songs and ensure a jam packed dance floor with an absolute guarantee that if you book the right band, this is the part everyone will be talking about in the following weeks, months and even years to come!

The awesome five piece ‘got it covered’ band will ensure to get the party going for your evening reception. Professional line up for weddings, events and parties – You name it, they’ve “Got It Covered”

While these are heady questions, fear not: we have a fantastic residential DJ- Shake Discos who will make your evening reception a day to remember. They ask all the important questions such as what songs are a no go to be played and all your favourite tunes to keep the guests dancing the night away, and ensure your evening reception will be a night your guests will not forget!

Angela Moore: 01189810311/07850154867

Got it Covered: 07886361088 www.got-it-covered.co.uk

Shake Disco: 0163536258 www.shakedisco.co.uk

Donnington Valley Golf Club Championship Singles

With summer well underway we welcomed all our budding golfing enthusiasts to join us for our annual Donnington Valley Club Championship Singles.


Over Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th July, members from Donnington Valley Golf Club competed in the annual event. Where there are medal competitions each day plus overall 36-hole winners for the various categories, based on gross and nett scores, age and gender.

The overall Club Champion, for men aged 18 – 55 was won by Gareth Clarke who shot 2 over gross for the 36 holes, which is an amazing result. This is the fourth time Gareth has won this.

The other amazing winner was Zhana Powers winning the Ladies 36 hole nett competition, shooting an amazing nett 66 on day one followed by an even better nett 64 on day two.

Not without forgetting to say congratulations to our other winners which were:

Tess Chantrey
Michael Cowley
Clive Teixeira
John Sayers

Well done to all the winners, we look forward to seeing you all next year.

Golf Club’s Annual Charity Day.

At Donnington Valley Golf Club we pride ourselves on community and team spirit.


On Saturday 18th July 160 golfers took to the fairways to take part in the golf club’s annual charity day and raised an amazing £9,000 for West Berkshire Therapy Centre as we as Babies in Buscot Support.

We had 16 hole sponsors, ladies selling bacon butties on the course, beat the pro competition on the 9th, Tombola, Raffle and some of the male golf members made cakes which were judged by the ladies and then sold.

Auctions for 2 cars for the weekend kindly offered by Harwoods Basingstoke.

Thank you for all the support and money raised for these wonderful causes.



Upcoming Events this August

The kids have broken up for Summer and imagination take a front seat when planning things to do. Here is a host of our favourite days out and events that will guarantee to have a smile on everyone’s face. The sun doesn’t always need to shine to ensure you have a fabulous time.


Newbury Retro Festival
Friday 7th August – Sunday 9th August

A fabulous weekend for all the family. Get the sleeping bags together for the three day weekend at Newbury’s 9th Retro Festival. With a variety of activities to keep all the family occupied, including three amazing stages, dance floors, show arena and a vintage funfair, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been before!

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Open Air Cinema at Shaw House
Saturday 8th August – Monday 6th September

Four fabulous evenings of al fresco cinema in the beautiful grounds of historic Shaw House. With films starting after sunset what a perfect romantic evening to escape to or even get girls and guys out the house to enjoy. Bring the popcorn – as the venue provides the deckchairs and bean bags.

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Monday 17th August – Monday 31st August

Stockfest is a unique event that will be taking place in the picturesque West Berkshire village of Stockcross. Inspired by their vibrant village community, it is a celebration of local talent, arts, music, culture and sport. It celebrates the area’snumerous successful events  including Jazz on the Glebe, Street Fairs, an annual sell-out Pantomime and the very popular Open Gardens days. A few things to look forward to this year include a weekend of music, watercolour workshop, classic car rally and village show, mystery pop-up events and a children’s picnic. See you there!

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Live Music and Afternoon Tea
Wednesday 26th August 3pm – 5pm

Enjoy an elegant afternoon tea in the stunning setting of The Vineyard with music from Composer and Cabaret Pianist Fiona Bennett at The Vineyard. Hear Fiona sing, play the piano and tell a few stories about her life in television, radio and how she sang her way around the world.

£25 per person
Call 01635 897640 for more