Bearwood Lakes - Berkshire - England

Bearwood Lakes Golf Club,
Bearwood Road,
Sindlesham,
Nr. Wokingham,
Berkshire,
RG41 4SJ,
England


  • +44 (0) 118 979 7900


The beautiful Jacobean-style mansion in the Bearwood Estate reminds us what it must have been like to be a wealthy 19th century English aristocrat. The fabulous Victorian house was built for the man behind The Times newspaper, John Walter. The course at Bearwood Lakes Golf Club first opened for play in 1996 and Martin Hawtree designed it to look mature beyond its years, just as John Walter did with his mansion house.

Bearwood Lakes is a thrilling layout, which wends its way through the mature trees of the former Bearwood Estate. This is a golfer's golf course with skilfully designed and cleverly routed holes. This is certainly one of the very best new courses to have been built and, to quote Golf Links Magazine, Bearwood Lakes is "polished to perfection". Bearwood is immaculately maintained and the members benefit from stunning playing surfaces all year round.

Hawtree has skilfully blended the course into the natural surroundings and the beautiful specimen trees add to the many attractive features. There isn't a single weak hole at Bearwood Lakes – each and every one makes you think. The most memorable holes are the six sited around the natural lakes, which cover more than 50 acres.

The par four 13th is a stunner, which requires a long carry from the elevated tee across the corner of the lake to a distant fairway. The green is cut alarmingly close to the water's edge – this is not a hole for the faint-hearted. The 14th is probably Bearwood's signature hole – and it's a corking one-shotter, which requires an accurate mid iron across the corner of the lake.

To score well, especially from the back tees, you'll need to bring your 'A' game. The fairways are relatively generous in terms of width but if you stray off this carpeted surface, you'll be in all sorts of trouble – it's easy to lose a bucket load of balls in the rough at Bearwood Lakes.

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Reviews for Bearwood Lakes

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Description: Bearwood Lakes is an oasis of calm and beauty with dramatic views of the whole Bearwood Estate. An exclusive golf club which appears mature beyond its age. Rating: 8.3 out of 10 Reviews: 73
TaylorMade
Colin Short

After two years of Covid delays it was really great to finally play our planned game at Bearwood Lakes at the end of June 2022.

I first played the course with two members back in 2009 but there has been a transformation since then!

I spend half the year living at Fancourt considered to be the best golf estate in Africa and have travelled extensively playing golf however I have to say that Bearwood Lakes is the best conditioned course that I have ever played!

Of particular note were the surrounds and areas of rough which escape thorough attention on many of the top courses.

The aesthetics of the course are much improved from my first visit with many beautiful scenes unfolding before you and a great variety of interesting and challenging holes to negotiate.

My two friends who are also experienced and well travelled golfers were also blown away by the overall condition and you can rest assured we will widely canvas our great day at Bearwood Lakes.

August 04, 2022
8 / 10
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Alex Frolish

Bordering the area of England more famous for its plethora of heathland gems than its parkland pearls, Bearwood Lakes in the heart of Berkshire is a rare parkland course of immense quality, jousting ever more impressively with its many revered heathland neighbours. Pure parkland courses seem to have fallen out of vogue in recent years, possibly due to their perceived inability to maintain a comparably respectable standard of playing conditions all year round. I can’t comment on Bearwood Lakes’ ability to do so, but what I can attest to is that playing a round here in the middle of the summer season really is something quite special, and the playing surfaces right across the course were exemplary for our visit.

As the rankings quite rightly suggest, Bearwood Lakes is widely regarded as one of the best and tougher parkland courses in the UK. You can sense the quality of the course you are about to play as you take in the wide reaching vista stretching across the 1st and 18th holes, viewed from the expansive clubhouse veranda. And you get a sense for the ‘Lakes’ part of the name, although the lake in between the 1st and 18th hole is by all accounts, a new addition.

The 1st hole is reasonably welcoming and aesthetically pleasing, with a generous landing area between the bunkers, and it measures a modest distance by modern standards for a par 4. But don’t let this early illusion fool you, what awaits here at Bearwood Lakes is a stern test of strategy and ball striking, where positional accuracy will often triumph over brute force.

It is the green sites that are in the main, the courses primary defence and in the opening run, there are a number of lessons to be learned for the first time visitor. You quickly learn that leaving yourself short sided will rarely result in an up and down and that hitting the green in regulation isn’t enough in itself to ensure securing a par; placement below the hole is much more crucial than your proximity to it.

I have a tendency to highlight the harder holes on a course as being my favourite, but I think few could contest that the par 4 4th is one of the most attractive holes across the 18 here, particularly from the back tee. The tee shot is played across a depression to an uphill sloping fairway, with bunkers and long grass framing the landing area in a particularly pleasing manner. The green is one of the aforementioned trickier ones on the opening run and all in all, it is a charming yet exacting test of all facets of your game.

Similarly, the SI1 7th is another tough hole that provides a real sense that the course, though not the longest, provides a stringent and varied examination, and it is more than worthy of its honour as the hardest rated hole. It is the 9th though that probably steals the award for the most photogenic on the front nine, with this par 3 playing across one of the prettier expanses of water on the property. As my playing partners and I commented, it would be an even more attractive vista if the teeing area utilised the higher ground to the right of the tee box to give some elevation to the view, but having taken the time to climb up there and have a look, it is maybe the proximity of the green keepers huts to the right of that area that dissuaded the use of the higher ground.

The back nine is probably the more varied of the two sides, and the run from 10-15 is where the course really starts to show its majesty. It is also the part of the course where the water hazards start to dominate the narrative. The 10th is an attractive golf hole where the charming approach will bite if you let it. Similarly, the par 5 11th looks a soft touch on the card but plays anything but that in reality. And if you can escape the double salvo of 13-14 without visiting the water, you will make the turn for home with renewed vigour.

The strangest architectural feature on the course comes on the par 5 16th, where the downhill second shot landing area finishes abruptly, due to a railway sleeper barrier running perpendicular to the fairway. I can see the intent, to make you make a conscious decision of whether to go for the green surround in two or to lay up, but I’ve seen many subtler ways of eliciting a similar thought process.

I am a self confessed lover of links golf, so it takes a little more for me to be truly blown away by a parkland course, but there was more than enough firm turf and beautiful golf holes to win me over here. Although, the boundaries of parkland/heathland/upland courses do seem ever greyer, there are certainly elements of this course that exude a heathland atmosphere, but it still holds enough parkland elements to be placed in that category. The playing surfaces are quite frankly marvellous and I would challenge that even the most partisan heathland or links supporter couldn’t fail to enjoy a round here.

July 19, 2022
7 / 10
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Chris Griffiths

Absolute belter of a course that is leaves a real taste in the mouth. Bearwood Lakes is seriously impressive. If I could justify the joining fee and play every week I'd be there in a second.

Not usually a fan of parkland courses, but this is so good I love it. One of my favourite parkland courses, up there with Wentworth and Woburn in the UK.

If you get invited here, don't say no.

July 15, 2022
7 / 10
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Adam Singleton

Lucky enough to be invited here on Saturday 4th June 2022.

From the moment you roll down the driveway, beautifully framed by in bloom rhododendron's you get that feeling that something rather special awaits.

Arrival; Welcome at the clubhouse is warm, professional and courteous. Nice lounge / bar area that is raised and overlooks the 1st tee, 18th green and if you look over to the right the approach to the tricky 7th green. I had a bacon and sausage bap as I had arrived early and it was a mountain of food ... one very happy man.

Practice facilities; a free pyramid of balls to hit on a great sunken range. Just above the range a few chipping greens where you can try out some techniques with the various rough you may face out on the course.

The course; First off, the course is on a fantastic piece of land the course has been skilfully weaved through some very mature trees which give the course a great sense of framing and calm. For this part of the world or golfing geography there is a distinct lack of heather which I know for some is a welcome relief. The general condition is superb, tees are complete and flat, every fairway has fine swards of grass where you can equally nip a 4 iron or if bold enough slide a wedge open faced around a green to play a daring recovery shot. The greens on the day were extremely receptive but still ran at a good speed and were very true. A lot of the par 5's and some of the par 4's were played into greens which are significantly above the level of the fairway, so in some respects the course probably plays a touch longer than the card suggests. I played off the whites and it was a very breezy day, apart from the 2nd hole all of the par 5's were true 3 shotters (I play off 5). Fairways are generous, but if you do happen to stray off line the fescue rough is quite brutal and although you may find your ball, you will be lucky to advance in any meaningful way, take your medicine and play on. Greens like the fairways are on the most part generous, but this has the circumstance that you may find the putting surface but leave yourself a treacherous 50ft putt, no two putt certainty there. The stretch of holes on the back nine navigating around the body of water is really pretty and if you take a moment to look around and appreciate it, well worthwhile. Like any good golf course, bold shots executed well are rewarded with the opportunity to score but well placed bunkering can hinder that aggression. My particular favourite holes were 3, 7, 8 and 13. For the record I went round in gross 76 with 3 birdies, 8 pars and 7 bogies.

Ultimately I'd say there is something for everyone at Bearwood and if you are fortunate enough to get an invite I'd snap it up. It's a test, but it's also a lot of fun.

June 06, 2022
7 / 10
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Josh

I will admit that although I was very much looking forward to my tee time at Bearwood Lakes, it was overshadowed that I had managed to surprise my Dad the day after for a round on the West at Wentworth. Knowing him and his view on travelling a long way just for golf, I knew he wouldn't make the journey unless persuaded by the likes of Wentworth. The irony is a sweet I told you so when he confesses to me he preferred the course at Bearwood Lakes which up until a couple of days before he never knew existed.

"If you ever get the chance to meet the owner, whatever you do don't call these lakes" as we walked through the two 'bodies of water' that encapsulate the path down the first hole. "You'll know the lake when you see it" as we walked past the cool waterfall style feature.

Bearwood is a baby in comparison to the other courses that we are blessed with in the top 100 but it is certainly not one that should be overlooked. Set over a generous amount of land and a gorgeous natural lake, it's clear to see how this club is reserved for members and their lucky guests only.

Although I was warned, I decided to fearlessly [naively] jump on the black tees, how hard can they be? My playing partner left me to my own devices and wondered forward to the more comfortable yellow tees but came and visited me every so often to see and compare how different the tees were in contrast to the forward blocks. Even he was surprised at how different the course looked. What I really liked is that although these tees were indeed long, some offered some very cool and different angles and you can tell this has been very carefully thought out. The common denominator was that it didn't make it any easier! Some of the holes namely 6,7,11 & 13 are all framed so beautifully off these tees but still make you feel so claustrophobic.

This place was manicured to absolute perfection. The greens at Wentworth the day after were quicker yes, however these greens looked better and still rolled just as good too. It goes without saying that the fairways were also in great nick.

You get a sense of oasis here at Bearwood, you feel as though you're in a world of your own. The generous land that the golf course sits upon allows well spaced and well thought out routing, making use of the attractive trees that are ready to come into play with any poor shot.

Whilst I'm not supposed to and will not base my decision on anything else but the course you do get the full experience at this place. From meet and greets to complimentary range balls, tees and pin sheets. The driving range and chipping facilities are some of the best I've come across and a great little halfway hut hides away just after you play the beautiful pair of holes (8 & 9) around the.. 'body of water'.

Some of the course changes that are made at Bearwood can only be made by a club that is fortunate to have a great deal of wealth. The club took advantage of the lake being drained to improve the dam for Reading FC's new training ground, just in view from the course, by removing all of the reeds to allow an Augusta like 'Mirror effect' which looks fantastic. I'm also told that with the drought we had a few years ago the owner also had a reservoir built to combat the situation if it were to happen again.

All in all, if you're lucky enough to get an invite to this place it's something you'd have to do. The youth of the course shouldn't put you off because it's proven to be a fierce rival with some of it's very traditional competitors in the top 100. Just make sure you know what the difference is between a lake and a body of water!

May 19, 2022
8 / 10
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Miguel Frade

A pleasure to play Bearwood if you get a chance. feels incredibly special the first time due to the exclusivity that surrounds the club. Always enjoy taking in the view on the 1st tee, with a great panoramic of the 1st, 7th and 18th.

January 31, 2022
6 / 10
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Chris Shave

This course has everything. Facilities, Driving Range and Course are all world class. There are so many great holes but the back 9 is exceptionally picturesque. Worth making the trip to play, if you're lucky enough to know someone there!

October 19, 2021
8 / 10
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Oliver Croft

Having played Swinley on the Monday we headed to Bearwood on the Tuesday. I personally think its the most underrated course I have ever played. It has everything, in beautiful condition, amazing hospitality, fantastic lay out, amazing views, some lovely wild deer and despite it being a tough track, there is birdie opportunity's. I expect it to rise up the rankings over the years. Whilst Swinley oozes class and I scored much lower, I enjoyed my round more at Bearwood.

August 06, 2021
9 / 10
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Chris Wanless

Bearwood Lakes is a baby of a course, opening in 1996, but built through the mature and vast Bearwood Estate. This gives it a feel of maturity beyond its years and the course blends seamlessly into its surroundings. 18 varied holes winds and undulates through a large variety of trees and 50 acres of natural lakes. To compliment this, the whole course is manufactured within an inch of its life. On the tee boxes, fairways and greens you will be hard pressed to find a blade of grass out of place. It is a club that members can happily show off to their guests and that really starts from the moment you arrive. The modern clubhouse whets the appetite with views of 3 complete holes. You’re never short of action.

There are number of good holes throughout. The 6th is a lovely short hole with limited views of the fairway from the tee and a tree guarding the green from any tee shots left of centre. The 7th is the best driving hole on the course, especially from the tips. Even if you aren’t playing from the blacks, you should walk back there to see just how narrow the drive is. This hole favours a draw from the tee before heading back uphill towards the clubhouse.

The next set of holes that run from 8 - 14 all take in the lakes and are superb. A risk/reward driveable Par 4 at 8 and a short Par 3 back across the lake at 9. 10 offers the best approach shot on the course across a small flowered lake. The 11th is another hole that one should drive from the black tees as it changes the hole completely. 12 is a lovely downhill Par 3, guarded by an army of bunkers and 13 is the best hole on the course. An elevated drive on a dogleg right Par 4, with a stream intersecting the fairway twice. Finally, the 14th is the best Par 3 on the course, cutting the corner of a lake to a large undulating green.

The next set of holes from 15 - 17 are weaker and not in keeping with the rest of the course, although as always, well maintained and the final hole is a lovely Par 4 where balcony watchers can watch approach shots over a lake to the final green.

Parkland courses are not always my cup of tea but Bearwood is up there with the best that England has to offer. It’s beautiful, superbly maintained, varied and extremely fun to play. If you are invited by the one of the lucky members, do snap up the chance to play here!

For all photos of reviews, please follow Chris’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/top.100.golf/

May 18, 2021
7 / 10
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Mike Brooks

Bearwood Lakes is not on many people’s bucket list of courses to play. It doesn’t (yet) feature in any of the top 100 GB&I listings and it doesn’t have the reputation of the classic heathland courses that are not far away. However it is a delightful course that merits playing if you get the chance - it might just make it into your own GB&I top 100.

Lakes feature on around half of the holes with 9, 13 and 14 the standouts. The 13th is arguably the best hole on the course requiring careful positioning (or luck!) to avoid the burn off the tee and with water guarding the green front and right. A number of other holes are played through an avenue of trees.

A lake has been added to the 18th and 1st fairways which typically shouldn’t come into play for medium/long hitters but can punish a miss-hit shot and definitely adds to the aesthetics (and nerves!)

Overall the course isn’t overly difficult and is very playable, not that I managed to play it well! Its slope rating of 142 is way too high in my opinion, confirming my view that a slope rating bears little resemblance to how hard a course actually is. (I challenge anyone to play Archerfield’s Dirleton course with its gorse-lined fairways and slope of 125 and conclude that it is easier than BL.)

Overall I really liked the course and I am left wondering whether it would make it into my GB&I top 100. I rate it more highly than a few courses that are in the rankings but then again there are other courses not in the rankings that I would rate more highly. It will probably end up being borderline once I have played all of the contenders. That to me still represents a fantastic course. Play it if you get the chance.

May 05, 2021
7 / 10
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