Gog Magog (Old) - Cambridgeshire - England

Gog Magog Golf Club,
Shelford Bottom,
Cambridge,
CB22 3AB,
England


  • +44 (0) 1223 247626

  • James Fuller

  • W.Duncan

  • Tom Simm


Gog Magog isn't the biblical final opponent of Israel, nor is it located in the heart of Wales, it's Cambridgeshire's favourite golf club, which is sited a couple of miles to the south of Cambridge, on the legendary Gog Magog Hills.

It’s unclear when golf was first played in Cambridge but there was a course on Coldham’s Common, which was described by Bernard Darwin in his 1910 book The Golf Courses of the British Isles as “the worst course I have ever seen”. Darwin went on to say: “There is another flourishing course on the Gog Magog hills, where there is at least a charming view.”

The idea to build a golf course was put forward by the Council of Gonville and Caius College, and in 1898, W Duncan – the resident pro at Coldham’s Common – laid out a rudimentary 9-hole course. The following year, the course was extended to 18 holes and in 1901 the Gog Magog Golf Club was officially founded. In 1902, Bernard Darwin was elected on to the Club committee, but he resigned a year later, "owing to his probable absence from Cambridge." However, Darwin may have played a role in arranging for Willie Park Junior to visit the club in 1902 to advise on the position and construction of bunkers.

"Successive Committees were content to make their own changes to the course, and in 1922 the records reflect a certain pique when members requested that a golf course architect should be consulted.” Writes Mike Berners Price in The Centurions of Golf. “The minutes refer to the alterations recommended by the well respected architect J Abercromby as being ‘trifling’ and the resentment seems to have continued through to 1926 when the Secretary’s response to a similar request was that: ‘it might be advisable to take the advice of a practical golfer like James Braid.’ Whatever the sentiments at the time, the contributions of Park, Abercromby and Braid all helped to add variety to today’s layout.”

East Anglia is one of the flattest areas in England, but the Old course at the “Gogs” is anything but flat. The opening par four starts the gradual journey uphill before we arrive at the memorable 2nd hole. This short par four has an intimidating uphill tee shot which must carry across the corner of an old quarry which, to make matters worse, is out of bounds. The plateau green is cut into the edge of the hill, missing the green to the left with your approach shot is not recommended. We can now relax after climbing the first two holes because we’re now on the top of a delightful chalk escarpment. Here, we have a distinct heathland feel, but instead of heather, the rough is liberally sprinkled with rare perennial flax – a glorious sea of blue during the summer. It’s not surprising that the Old course is set in an area designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

There are many memorable holes on the Old course and the par threes are especially strong, but one in particular is simply terrific...the 13th. Measuring 208 yards with a depression between tee and green and a spinney waiting to catch anything hit left of the target line. It’s a great hole, but make sure to drink in the view across historic Cambridge before moving on to the 14th tee.

At 6,398 yards from the back tees, the Old course is not about length it’s about accuracy and finding the right part of the tricky, sloping greens. Each year the Lagonda Trophy is contested on the Old course and this blue ribbon amateur event attracts some of the world’s best amateurs. The R&A named Gog Magog as a new addition to the list of clubs to host Open Championship Regional Qualifying (2007-2011). But it’s not the Old course that was selected, it’s the much younger Wandlebury course, which opened for play in 1999.

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Reviews for Gog Magog (Old)

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: Gog Magog isn't the biblical final opponent of Israel, nor is it located in the heart of Wales, it's Cambridgeshire's favourite golf club... Rating: 4 out of 6

As you drive up the M11 looking at flat fields to left and right it’s a great surprise to arrive and look straight UP the first and second fairways. I love the challenge of clubbing for an elevation change and it was something that got thoroughly tested through the round. The ability to work the ball either way off the tee is a huge advantage as well. Whether to hold the side slopes or skirt bunkers the shape must be regularly changed. Greens start simple but with pronounced slopes and get more subtle as the course rolls on .

The Par3’s and 5’s are unusually all strong. Pick of a good variety of 4’s and probably the most memorable hole is the 16ht. With picturesque views from a high tee box, it requires two stout blows to cover 446 yards. The back 9 is quite a test. Always a bit of a risk when moving to an inland course in March but the fears were unfounded. The high lying land over a base of chalk meant conditions were idea for the running game and the putts ran true. I will go back in summer because the fairways look like they’ll be hard to hold and the greens “slippery”.

All that plus the course has a long history and fine views over Cambridge and surrounding countryside. A nomination for a hidden gem. Well worth a visit and deserves to be known more than locally.

(Nearly gave the elusive 5h ball rating and with a little polish it would be there).

March 20, 2017


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Played the Gogs Old course again after the recent Lagonda Trophy and it was a joy on sunny day to be on that high chalk escarpment. Apparently Andy Sullivan from Nuneaton won the Lagonda with a 64 in the first round and a 69 in the second – amazing golf. Anyway, the Old course is relatively straight forward and tighter than the Wandlebury which really should be a gem as it has been an Open Regional Qualifying Course until 2011 and has some fantastic holes. Anyway, the Old has a simply fantastic collection of par threes and some solid par fours. Perhaps its main weakness are the par fives – back to back par five 7 and 8, with 8 playing more like a par four especially given the approach falls away towards the sunken green. That said, the Gogs is always an enjoyable experience and I never tire of playing there. The clubhouse has received a makeover too which is much improved.
June 17, 2010


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Gog Magog should be up there with a very good / excellent rating. However, the general condition and manicuring of the Old Course along with the state of the greens unfortunately leave alot to be desired since my previous visit earlier in the year. Perhaps, there has been a change of green staff. This is a shame as it was not long ago when this course was the best for many a mile and a joy. My advice would be to play the other course (Wandlebury) which is in better condition and represents far better value for money.
October 08, 2007


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I know a member here and I have been lucky enough to play the Old course in each season and it's delightful. The only down side is that it can get a bit windy on the top of this hilly plateau. The greens are certainly the biggest challenge here and three putting (especially in the summer when the greens are slick) is commonplace. The stroke indexes are somewhat misleading with the SI1 being a reachable par 5 (depending on the prevailing wind). The back nine is strong, with blind drives on the 10th and the 11th. There’s a really tough par four at 12 and then there’s the excellent 13th. The 16th is the best driving hole around and from its elevated tee, you just have to open your shoulders...but big hitters watch out for the cross-bunkers…if you reach them, this will be a bogey hole or worse. Uniquely, just behind the 16th tee is a gobsmacking par three which is disused...a great shame, but this is a great track in an area that is bereft of decent golf courses.
March 01, 2005


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An unusually hilly course for Cambridgeshire with some great views, especially from the 13th across the University City to Ely cathedral beyond (on a clear day). It plays like an inland links on free-draining chalk. A great collection of par threes (except the 9th which is the weakest hole). The 16th is a corker - the elevated tee is very inviting, but watch those cross-bunkers. Well worth playing for sheer variety and entertainment. Don't hold up big Russell Claydon!
September 24, 2004


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The Gogs. I have now played this on 4 occasions. Placing it as the number one course in Cambridgeshire in all honesty isn't saying much (it has little competition). However this really is a good golf course. A strange mix of hill top golf, and a rather unnerving variety of holes. Some links like, some heathland and a few tree lined parklandesque holes. All in all well worth a visit. Not the most exacting test of golf, but a fair and enjoyable knock.
September 24, 2004


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