Harry Colt, perhaps the best golf architect of all time, designed the course at Beaconsfield Golf Club and the clubhouse is architecturally special too.
Bernard Darwin described Beaconsfield in The Golf Courses of Great Britain as follows; “good park golf with beautiful trees and greens, and some holes of a decidedly precipitous and exciting nature.”
Writing in The Good Golf Guide, Peter Alliss commented as follows: “[Beaconsfield] was designed by Harry Colt in 1924 and bears most of that very busy architect’s trademarks, such as his use of the ravine on the 6th fairway. Here you have a choice of whether to lay up or go for the carry. The 4th is a good doglegged par 5. The green has a well-guarded entrance, so you must be bold and accurate with either a long second or a little pitch for your third.
A ravine comes into play again on the 10th, a dogleg to the left. On the 17th your mind is almost made up for you; it is a dogleg right par 5, where your shot to the green has to elude a large and well-bunkered pit. Probably best to play short and pitch over.”
When I lived in Beaconsfield from 1993-1998 I played Beaconsfield GC only one time right before my return to the USA. After playing it near the end of my time in England, I thought of this H.S Colt design as perhaps my biggest regret during my five years there. My other expatriate friends had gotten attached to Stockley Park near Heathrow which had only recently opened and offered a “semi-private” experience. Not knowing how long I would be in England when I first came over, I was glad to have Stockley Park as a regular place to play. When not playing Stockley Park, I prioritized going to as many as the top 100 courses as I could resulting in playing approximately 75 courses that had made the three leading UK golf magazines’ Top 100 in the UK and Ireland list.
But after playing Beaconsfield, I realized I should have tried to network better to possibly join it or certainly should have played there more often (it was harder back then to access it as a visitor). While there are other clubs relatively close by that are far superior (Sunningdale, St. George’s Hill, The Berkshire, Swinley Forest), Beaconsfield would have been a nice club as it is a classic parkland golf course with a very good mixture of challenges, variety in terrain, interesting greens, and a lovely walk.
To be fair, it is not a top 100 golf course in the UK and Ireland. There are easily 150 golf courses that either offer better routings and designs, have better land, or are located near the sea. Yet Beaconsfield is a course that one should enjoy every single time one plays there.
I did return to play it again after I left England just to confirm my earlier feelings of remorse. After playing it a second time, I felt exactly the same as the first time I played it. I am also a little surprised that Beaconsfield GC did not make Tom Doak’s “The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, Volume 1 Great Britain and Ireland” as I feel it would have been a worthy inclusion.
It is currently listed at the fourth best golf course in Buckinghamshire behind Stoke Park. I would put it ahead of Stoke Park but not before the two courses at Woburn. It is currently listed at the 95th best course in England but I would likely put it in the top 80 with the caveat that I have only played 36 on the current list. Wow – does England have a lot of outstanding golf courses!
The most attractive elements of Beaconsfield are the routing and the greens. The routing moves in all directions with only 7-10 and 11-13 consecutively going the same way. While a railway dissects the golf course, one does not notice it. I also liked how the trees provide a feeling of solitude on each hole standing on its own (and this is from a person who prefers wide-open views on a golf course).
If one were to critique Beaconsfield GC, they could point out that 3 of the 4 par 3’s are essentially the same length and the par 5’s are a tad short, particularly the tenth hole at 483/470. The fifteenth at a mere 279/264 offers perhaps too much of a chance of a birdie. There are seven eight par 4’s less than 400 yards. The course lacks length with the back tees at just over 6500 yards while the member tees are approximately 6200 yards.
While it is often a difficult decision to alter a design, particularly by perhaps the best designer of all time, Beaconsfield could decide to add more interest by adding a few more bunkers on the shorter par 4’s or relocating a few greenside bunkers closer to the green. It should also relocate the cross bunkers on the second and ninth holes which are currently too close to the tees by adding another 25-30 yards to restore the challenge that Mr. Colt likely intended. I certainly would not add more than 5-10 bunkers given that the course already has over 70. Additionally, there are adequate penalties due to the depth of the trees lining every fairway. If your tee shot is not working, then one will be in for a long day.
As to the current golf course there are no truly outstanding holes, but nearly all of them offer a good test of golf. The course offers many fine holes, such as the opening hole, a par 4 of 457/444 which requires a straight drive and a green with a false front. It is likely the most difficult hole on the course.
The second hole, a shorter par 4 at 361/348 offers eight bunkers although I do think the cross bunkers need to be relocated to make them a more strategic part of the hole. The green narrows in the middle where two of those greenside bunkers are located.
The third hole, a par 4 of 380/370 offers a well-guarded green with three bunkers.
The fourth is a shorter par 5 of 517/484 with two fairway bunkers followed by three bunkers. One should think about whether the two bunkers fronting the green should be moved a bit closer to the green.
The mid-length par 3 requires that you do not miss to the left side of the green and go down a slope. There is a good chance at recovery on this hole despite the four bunkers.
The sixth is the first dogleg on the course, bending to the right. A long hitter could run into trouble due to the trees coming into the fairway from the left side. This hole has some elevation changes in the fairway and has a nice green complex with four bunkers fronting the green. This is one of my favorite holes.
My second favorite par 3 on the golf course is the seventh with three bunkers fronting the green and a nicely sloped green right to left. It is a lovely hole with the green framed by trees. The club does have the option of relocating the green twenty yards deeper to offer a bit more variety on par 3 yardages.
The eighth is a dogleg left of 378. It is a tad too easy from the member tees at 338 yards. The tee shot is uphill and cannot go left due to the thickness of the trees.
The ninth hole bends slightly left at 358/343 where the fairway is tilted right to left. There are three fairway bunkers here that should be relocated another 25-30 yards to bring them back into play. The green has three bunkers surrounding a narrow green also sloped right to left. These are the two best consecutive holes on the golf course.
Despite a sloping fairway right to left, I found the short par 5 tenth to be the least interesting hole on the golf course as it has the least interesting green.
My favorite par 3 is the mid length eleventh as it has a lovely elevated green making the hole play a club longer. The green is nicely tilted left to right with some good swales in it. Although there are two bunkers left, I wondered why Mr. Colt did not add one or two bunkers to the right or back of the green. It would make a good hole even better.
The short par 4 twelfth is perhaps the weakest hole on the course. I would consider adding fairway bunkers on either side due to today’s technology no longer demanding one use driver off the tee. The short par 4 slight dogleg left thirteenth of a similar length is a much better hole due to the seven well-placed bunkers.
The long par 5 fourteenth is one of the better holes on the golf course. In a sense, there are two sets of cross bunkers on this 564/535 hole. There are ten bunkers total on the hole. I thought it had the right size and shape of green for the length of the hole. This hole has a good mixture of challenge and strategy.
Although the fifteenth has a nice two-tiered green which can result in taking more than two putts, at 279/264 yards the hole is a chance at birdie. The hole is fairly flat which is somewhat surprising for a short driveable par 4. However, this hole has some challenge due to the narrowness of the fairway.
The longest and final par 3 comes next and has a nice green fronted by two bunkers. This is a good hole and just a touch below the eleventh.
The seventeenth and final par 5 offers a green that is somewhat hidden on the right side requiring a tee shot to hit the center/left side of the fairway. There are two fairway bunkers but the one on the right should be relocated another 15 yards to bring it back into play. There is a pit guarding the right side of the green although it is farther from the green than it looks so you can actually go over it. I liked the hole mainly because of the location of the green.
One has to walk back part of the fairway to get to the eighteenth tee. There are two bunkers at the green but the right front one is the more difficult one. It is an above average finishing hole and a nice ending to the round.
Certainly one would go to one of the more famed courses in the 50 mile radius rather than have a round at Beaconsfield. But I would rather go here than play other nearby courses such as The Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Stoke Park, Lambourne, or many other nearby courses. If I lived within a 200 mile radius, I would make sure I played this course. If one is a fan of H.S. Colt, Beaconsfield will not disappoint.
In my opinion this is definitely a top 100 course in england and I am very surprised that it isn’t in there. The course is fantastic with some beautiful holes with the par 3’s being particularly impressive. In addition to this it is in great condition all year round. It is a lovely club with great facilities and i would love to play here again. I would give it 5 balls as in my opinion it is better than stoke park but is purely not ranked higher because stoke park has more history! Great golf course well worth it to play!
I vaguely remember playing here on a corporate day around twenty-five years ago but had no memory of the course at all. A return after all of those years in mid-February was an absolute delight, with greens as good as I have played on at this time of the year in the south of England that I can remember.
Beaconsfield is a classy affair with many key things (1st tee, putting green, 18th green etc.) extremely close to the beautiful clubhouse – this is a strong members club with a very friendly welcome.
The opening hole is meaty par-4 at 457 yards with a slight uphill approach to the green. Two more par-4’s are next; the 2nd has great Colt cross bunkers but at around 180 yards from the tee are just a touch short to come into play for most in the modern day. The 3rd hole is like a mini version of the 3rd hole on Wentworth’s West course as there is a subtle elevation rise for most of the hole. A straight forward tree-lined par-5 is at the 4th – overall the opening four holes are decent but the next three holes are the strongest of the front nine. There is great bunkering on the 161 yard par-3 5th just about fifteen yards short of the green, making the hole look much shorter than it is. A wander to the 6th tee takes you over the main train-line; the hole that awaits is the SI-1 a par-4 that goes up, goes right, goes down and then up to the green and plays longer than the 421 yards on the card. The 7th is another strong par-3; three bunkers short of the hole and a green that needs a full carry as although the hole plays a little downhill, the green sits up a touch on higher ground – possibly the best short hole on the course. The 8th is an ok par-4, that does the job of getting you back to the higher ground – the front nine ends with a short par-4 (358 yards) and with more Colt cross bunkers on show from the tee and a slight dog-leg to the left and is a great driving hole.
First thing to say about the back nine is that it is very strong and difficult to find much wrong at all. Par-5’s at the 10th, 14th and 17th are all very good with the 10th shortest and probably the best birdie chance. Another magical par-3 is at the 178 yard 11th – this is an ideal length for a short hole as there is a decent challenge for all. The 12th hole, a par-4 at 356 yards gave me a another Wentworth flashback, this time as a shorter version of the West’s 9th hole. A similar length par-4 is the 13th with five cunningly placed bunkers at and short of the green is a very good looking hole. After a wander back over the train-line, the par-5 14th awaits – the best thing here are the bunkers – for the entire hole, they just seem to be in the perfect places; from the tee, in the fairway and then just short of the green – I believe there are ten of them on the hole and I would not re-position any of them.
The last four holes offer up plenty of variety starting with a short par-4 at 279 yards and SI-18, a decent chance to score well. The final par-3 is the 16th and a toughie – 202 yards and nearly all carry.
From halfway down the par-5 17th hole, you start to see the welcoming clubhouse and the non-playing golfers enjoying the terrace, a place that is only fifteen minutes away! The big thing about this 17th hole is the approach to the green – here is an offset green with a huge ridge through it, making putting the premium shots here. The final hole, is just under 400 yards long with the tee shot blind to a slight left to right fairway and then a gentle downhill shot to the green.
As mentioned at the beginning, Beaconsfield is a classy course and in great condition in early 2017. Expectations were met on my visit and exceeded for most of the round – I was thinking that was going to be a 4-ball opinion from me but I am going to go for a 5-ball, just. In terms of rankings in the Buckinghamshire county numbers, it feels that the wonderful Woburn Golf Club have the top 3 spots sewn-up but below that, I would have Beaconsfield ahead of The Buckinghamshire and on a par with the recently much improved Stoke Park – it would definitely be the club of those three that would get my membership fees.