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Many people say that there is nothing better than a day’s golf amongst the forest, heather and springy turf of the Berkshire Golf Club. Both the Red and the Blue courses are charming. The Red course is considered to be the more senior of the two, but frankly there is little to choose between them. Indeed it is likely that they will both merge into one unless you have been sufficiently fortunate to play them more than once.
Herbert Fowler, who had a gift for blending golf courses into their natural surroundings, laid out both courses in 1928. Fowler clearly did a great job because only minor changes have since been made to his original design. The land was once the hunting forest of the royals and dates back to the reign of Queen Anne. Each hole is played in seclusion, the mature sycamore, birch, chestnut and pine trees providing majestic tunnels for the rippled fairways.
The Red acquired its name from a military analogy with the Blue taking the opposite side. The Red course is highly unusual in design. The configuration of six par threes, six par fives and six par fours provide for much interest, variety and entertainment.
You need a straight and steady game to score well here otherwise you can very quickly become accustomed to chipping sideways out of the trees or hacking out of the heather. Needless to say, accuracy rather than length is all-important. The Red, measuring 6,369 yards from the white tees (5,733 from the reds) is the longer of the Berkshire’s two courses and it plays over slightly higher ground than the Blue.
The Berkshire is closely linked with amateur golf; its own Berkshire Trophy has produced some famous winners, including Nick Faldo and Sandy Lyle. Numerous ladies amateur competitions have also been held at the Berkshire.
If there is a downside to the Red course, it would be the par fives – four of the six are short by today’s standards. However, the par fours and threes more than make up for the minor criticism – after all, the short par fives might offer a birdie or two, or even an eagle.
There are many strong holes on the Red course but the best is probably the 6th, a shortish par four measuring 360 yards from the white tees. This hole doglegs to the right and requires an accurate drive to the left hand side of the fairway in order to leave a short approach shot to a raised green.
The Red’s hallmark is most definitely the six par threes – they are all quality in their own right. Actually, we think The Berkshire is delightful and will provide a memorable day out for any serious golfer.
It is a mystery to me why not more layouts with six par 3s and six par 5s are built at modern golf resorts as they provide so much fun!
The Berkshire's Red Course might lay claim to being the original. It certainly is the best such layout I have played and one of the best balanced layouts I have played, all categories.
It helps, of course, that it is set among heather and majestic fir trees and which ample space for each hole. Most of the deciduous trees I remember from my first visit in the 90s have now been cleared away and the course is visually better as a result. If you visit when the heather is in bloom, you are in for a real treat, as pictured.
The course also played longer as fairways were green already in early September and not fast-running the way I remember them. The caddiemaster who chuckled when he saw my old courseplanner from 20 years ago told us that many fairways had been relaid with sand and new drainage quite recently, which explained the state of affairs.
Berkshire Red is correctly ranked among the best UK heathland courses. In my opinion, there is probably not a single course among those ranked below that I have played that I would consider its equal.
An extra plus, at least in my book, is that you can play it in three hours without rushing as a two-ball instead of waiting around among fourballs. The flip side is that it might not be accessible on the day you were thinking of visiting if you are three or four, but then the Blue course could be available instead and it is (almost) just as good!
Highly recommended, do not miss!
I agree wholeheartedly in yearning for more 6-6-6 routings, and while I don't want to put words in my compatriot Ryan Book's mouth, I *know* he does as well.
The Berkshire is an amazing place for a day out, with 36 challenging holes sprawled across a lovely sandy property. Maybe not quite the cachet of Sunningdale (or the price tag), it's still a very classy place.
The Red and Blue courses are entwined through a lovely forest, although we saw evidence of the tree clearing programme underway. As they share the same springy turf, there is little between them, I'm sure many people have wandered on to the wrong course mid round without realising.
The reason I prefer the Red course, and rate it slightly higher, is that it features several opportunities to play a hero shot. With 6 par threes and 6 par fives, there are more opportunities for birdie than nearly every other course I can think of. This doesn't mean it's an easy course (far from it), you need to calculate risk v reward on every tee. I just found that on the Blue course the conservative option off the tee seemed best, whereas on the Red course the bold option seemed more appealing - and we all like dramatic golf. Of course it goes without saying I scored much better on the Blue, but the Red was more fun!
We arrived at the course early in the morning and were greeted warmly by the hospitality manager and invited inside for a complimentary coffee & bacon / sausage roll. After taking this, we set about looking around. The clubhouse and pro shop were a little underwhelming, but the course itself - wow.
We played the course in the summer after a couple of days of really heavy rain, but the course showed no signs of damage. There is an abundance of beautiful trees which provides great character, however the trunks are thin and well spread and generally aren't in play (due to wide fairways) meaning it's not a course where you feel you are constantly chipping sideways. Additionally, there is an abundance of heather which whilst adding character and colour to the course, was exceptionally punitive, especially compared to the fairways which were so pure.
The only qualms I had with the course is that with the exception of the 10th (a long par 3 over a heather canyon into a green with a false front and everything right falling back into the canyon), there were no standout holes. Lots of good holes, but nothing that you'd be shouting about in your local clubhouse. In addition, it felt that the greens could do with being a hare quicker, although that could have been due to the rain.
I very much enjoyed my experience, it's a beautiful course, perfectly maintained and very scorable. Worth a trip out, but was it worth the £195 green fee? I'll leave that up for debate.
Recently moved to within 10 minutes of The Berkshire, and had been wanting to play the Red so bad. It didn't let me down. An ok 1st hole paved way for a thrilling, challenging and beautiful final 17.
I loved that being on the fairway and green isn't enough. To score well, you had to plot your way round. The greens were in great order too.
Just a great day and I can't wait to return and give the Blue a bash.
I last played here 15 years ago, and found it stuffy. Times have changed and The Berkshire experience has moved with them. 36 holes today and the experience an absolute delight.
Firstly, the staff could not have been friendlier; chatty and funny restaurant manager, helpful starter who found us to ask if we wanted to move our afternoon tee forward an hour, great lunch (stunning view from the terrace), great halfway hut. All of this put us at great ease and left us free to enjoy every aspect of these 2 superb though different tracks.
Where The Blue feels more of a second shot course, with smaller greens, The Red asks more questions. Par 3s that I hit from 8-iron up to driver (on 16 - it plays loooong). Some devilish uphill/side hill chips. Double and triple level greens. 2 great strategic dogleg par 4s (6 and 12). Gorgeous par 3s and strategy on almost every hole. Greens that from a distance look simple and up close belie all manner of run offs, false fronts etc.
There is no artifice or pretentiousness here, either on or off the course. Just 2 thoroughly enjoyable tracks, many memorable holes and a feeling I’ve had the best that golf can offer me in this beautiful part of the world.
The second course I visited on the heathland leg of my trip, The Berkshire is one hell of a place to play golf. Out of every course I visited over the last 6 weeks, this place would be very high on the list for places most desirable to be a member of- with two strong 18 hole courses, and a vibe that was very welcoming. It was also great to see many dogs on the course!
The Red has 6 par 3s, 6 4s and 6 5s, which in turn leads to a fun golf course with plenty of those holes playing as half pars. The opener, a short par 5, sets out what the golfer should expect over the round. There was lots of width off the tee throughout which transpires to a course that is extremely playable.
In line with a lot of the top courses around this area, the layout is such that strategy is a key part of any round, for example the short par 4 6th asks a player how much of the dogleg they want to cut off with their tee shot.
Most readers will agree with me that a long par 3 can often not be their favourite type of hole. It is a testament to the class of this course that my two favourite holes were par 3s of over 180 yards. The 10th is similar to the 16th at Royal Porthrush, Calamity, and then the 16th plays every inch of its 205 yards, as its uphill. Both of these greens are shaped subtly, which is the case on pretty much all every green.
I hope to get back at some point soon and see the Blue course, as if it’s anything close to the Reds standard then it is an absolute must play, even in this regions esteemed company.
Being an Old Radleian bring many perks. One is basically a membership at The Berkshire. I joke of course. However, I have played both courses at The Berkshire many times as a result of the school I was educated at.
Golf World is correct in listing the Red ahead of the Blue. Although both are as beautiful as one another and a marvellous test. The course is charming, and this stretches to the pro shop and clubhouse. The clubhouse veranda is beautiful and sits elevated over the course, looking out over the first hole of the Blue course.
The practice facilities here are commendable for a traditional heathland course, where many fall short in this area. However, the range is located below the first tees of both courses and therefore a steep walk up from the range to the first tee is not ideal. I am nit-picking of course. The property as a whole is very impressive.
The Red course is unique in design. The configuration of six par threes, six par fours and six per fives provide for much interest, variety and entertainment. You need to be a straight and steady game to score well here otherwise you can very quickly become too acquainted with the trees and heather and therefore find yourself chipping out sideways and scrambling for par – bogey most likely.
My most recent outing here was playing for the Old Radleian Golf Team vs the current crop of golfing talent at the school. This was two years ago when my brother was the school’s Team Captain. My teammates decided that my brother was much better than I and placed me against another. A shame as I haven’t walked these fairways with my brother, despite being on the same property 3 times previously. However, it was a good thing I didn’t play against my brother as he shot a solid 2-over that day. I, on the other hand was below average. I took my game down 18 and thankfully prevailed after an outrageous 50-foot snaking putt uphill from left to right.
The Berkshire is so still and quiet and commands attention at every moment. I recommend adding the course to a Berkshire/Surrey itinerary. You will not be disappointed.
"This is my favourite place on earth." Buoyed by the endorsement of a 4-handicap society colleague, I played the best round of my life on the best course I have played so far.
In gorgeous late-summer sunshine, The Berkshire's Red Course was my golfing Shangri-La - every hole was such a delight, it inspired me to heights I didn't think I could attain.
This is the 22nd course in England's top 100 I have played since June and, while I loved several of the others, only St Enodoc had the same wow impact, for very different reasons.
The Berkshire Red is special because it looks stunning, is beautifully maintained and is, I think, unique - its 18 is made up of six par threes, six par fours and six par fives.
In attacking this new phenomenon and realising the presence of great swathes of purple heather, my business partner offered me a brilliant tip. "Play shots which you can get right eight of ten times. Don't hit any which you can only make one in ten."
His advice was perfect for the occasion because our society comp was off the yellow tees and so, The Red, while potentially tricky, could be negotiated with delicate play rather than Dechambeau-style ball-smashing.
Therefore, my unreliable fairway woods remained in my bag while my five-iron and eight-iron took up the slack.
However, there is no doubt that the key to my success was my putting which, in our Stableford competition, helped me yield nine three-pointers and even a four with a confidence-injecting birdie on the fourth hole.
It is so tricky to identify favourite holes on the Red course because they are all so good but the right-dogleg sixth is worth mentioning - I witnessed a fellow competitor succeed with the most outrageous of fades off the tee but I went for a more conventional approace for my par.
And I felt a glow walking off with a three on the 217-yard 16 which is, according to my well-travelled playing partner, one of the best short holes in the world. I took a driver, landed just short and putted off the green to five feet.
Indeed, a putter is a handy weapon if shots are a few yards off target - I used mine in the way that I have attacked a few links this summer.
Meanwhile, I ought to say that I had been warned that The Berkshire is a bit stuffy.
I didn't find that at all. The staff, who were making sure we adhered to ant-Covid-19 rules, couldn't have been more accommodating and my lunchtime salmon melted in my mouth.
I could go on and on with the superlatives. The Berkshire is magnficent and playing the Red will take some beating as my best golfing experience.
I personally think that this is one of the best concepts for a golf course. Six par fives, fours and threes. Makes it a course you can score on. But at the same time like all heathland courses, punish you for errant shots. A very well kept course and one of my favorites I've ever played on.
what an amazing course, pricy but worth every penny I can't fault it, enjoyed the evening so much and will be going back to play the blue as soon as possible. Course condition 11 out of 10, a real treat and definitely worth travelling to play especially if you can make a day of it.