The excitement of 8 lads heading up the M40 was palpable. We had been set free and we were off to play a course that has hosted more Ryder Cups than any other.
I decided to leave my review a few days, as the excitement of just being back on the golfing road again may have clouded my judgement and my initial thoughts when I walked off the course was “I really enjoyed that”, but how much was down to the joy of playing again and the history of the course and how much of that was the course itself?
I’ll start by saying that Parkland Golf is not a style that I get too excited about. I have played good ones (Hadley Wood), I have played overhyped unremarkable ones (The Grove), but I never walk off thinking “wow I can’t wait to come back”.
The Brabazon measures an amenable 6,729 yards from the Whites and is a flat piece of farmland that has been converted into a golf course made challenging by a shed load of water and some very clever and strategic bunkering. The course is in superb condition and clearly very well maintained, although the greens were remarkably slow.
The front 9 demands accuracy as water comes into play on most holes, requiring a well placed tee shot or accurate approach to avoid the drink. The back 9 is a lot more open and uses bunkering as its key protection, save the last hole, which has both and is one of the best finishing holes I have played in England so far.
There are some very good holes here interspersed by some rather straightforward ones. The 3rd is a pretty Par 5 with the green set behind a big lake. The 9th is risk reward hole where the bolder you are with your tee shot, the shorter your approach, but a large well placed bunker is waiting to swallow any overdrawn drives.
The 10th is everything it’s reputed to be. The signature hole, memories of Seve, the Ryder Cup etc. You have to go for it and we all did and I hit it! A can forever say I drove the 10th. It’s a short hole Par 4, but bunkers swallow anything right and water if you miss left. It’s fantastic.
The remaining holes on the back 9 are ok, (except the 18th) not ones I will remember for years to come and if the course was made up of these, then this wouldn’t break into the Top 100, but the 18th is superb! My bugbear continues to be Top 100 courses with average finishing holes...I could rattle off a list, but the Brabazon saves it’s best till last. An angled tee shot over water onto a narrow fairway, which gets wider the longer you go followed by a long approach over even more water onto a three tiered green. If you walk off the last with a par you’ve done very well and it will settle any matchplay game you have going down the last.
I gather from reading reviews on The Brabazon that it’s a marmite course, but I found myself somewhere in the middle. My God I was pleased to be back out and I loved my day there, but on reflection it’s a good parkland course with a few very good holes, but the course’s reputation is elevated by its history, but it should certainly be on everyone’s hit list, if not just to see if you can hit the 10th...all the best do
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Date: April 13, 2021