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Between Bagshot and Ascot
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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.
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.
36 holes at the Berkshire what is not to like. We started the morning on the red and standing on the first tee a downhill par 5 I thought “ok I better be straight today”.
First off the course condition is immaculate tee boxes are flat and tidy, a small but important thing. The fairways for early August with all the dry weather we have had were lush and the greens were fast, subtle and a joy to putt on.
The course layout there is not much more to add than others haven’t said. The par 3s are brilliant 10 being the best but 2 and 16 are right up there. The par 5s are all relatively short but there is so much defence on the course with bunkering and heather that you have to hit straight shots to have a chance. Trust me when I suggest that if you are in the middle of the fairway with 200 plus yards to go, unless you are hitting straight consider the layup. The chance of finding the green will be seen a distant thought if you miss, find the heather and lose a ball.
When we played and we found out after the round that heather was at its thickest when flowering, which it was and therefore at times we did feel penalised for just missing a fairway and losing a ball. So be prepared.
I played ok on the day finished well and on reflection both my playing partner and I agreed that if you turned up to The Berkshire on your game and played the Red you would thoroughly enjoy it.
As a 36 hole experience it is right up there. As a course in its own right, I could argue it into the world top 100. I thought about comparing it to other 36 hole layouts or other courses in the are but that may only help some decide to play somewhere else and I would say if you really are a golf fan put this place on the list and play it.
There can’t be too many parts of the world, where you can throw a blanket over world class golf courses, all situated within 10 minutes of each other. The Surrey/Berkshire border (where I am lucky enough to call home) is one of these hotspots and the Berkshire (Red) easily mixes it with its esteemed neighbours such as Swinley, Sunningdale and Wentworth.
Herbert Fowler has designed an incredible golf course, that blends itself into its natural surroundings seamlessly. Golf is played through a maze of trees and amongst heather so purple it looks as though it’s been painted. Fairways and greens manicured to perfection, but the surrounding nature left to mature, so you feel as though you are playing through the forest. The natural rolling terrain allows for holes with fantastic tee shot vistas or entertaining approach shots. The course design is imaginative, fun and tough!
Although off the tips the course measures a docile 6,369 yards, it is by no means easy and if you find the heather, take your medicine! Accuracy is the key here and it’s the truest test of golf. Find fairways and greens in regulation and you will score well.
It’s hard to find any faults with the course. You stand on each tee box and admire the canvas laid out in front of you. Possibly it was the time of year we played, but I am yet to play a more colourful course.
It was hard to pick out the ‘standout hole’ as they were all good, but for me the Par 3 10th goes straight into my Dream 18. Played over a heather ravine and uphill onto a green that seems to be running away from you. It’s an incredible one shotter. The Par 4 6th with a sweeping dog leg right and the Par 4 11th and 12th are super back to back short par 4s. The 11th in particular with a beautiful elevated tee box with the hole painted out in front of you.
My slight negative (and a continuous bugbear of mine at some Top 100 courses) was the tame finishing hole. An uphill Par 3 18th, which really shouldn’t be the crescendo for one England’s best golf courses.
That said, this really is one of the best courses I’ve played on these shores and it’s hard to see how this isn’t ranked a little higher. Maybe it’s the location and it’s esteemed neighbours, but for me this is a better course than Swinley and Wentworth and deserves to be in the discussion with Sunningdale Old & New. I can’t wait to come back.
For all photos of reviews, please follow Chris’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/top.100.golf/
The Red's had lots of reviews lately so rather than writing one, I'll just say I agree with everything written here (although I've not played Swinley).
Red is decent but not quite as good as Swinley and a clear level below both courses at Sunningdale
Absolutely love this place. Beautiful piece of ground with some tremendous holes that stick in the memory and brilliant conditioning.
The terrain here is perfect for golf with crisp sandy soil and terrifying heather lining each fairway (it looks beautiful but is impossible to escape from).
I agree with some of the earlier reviews in that due to the amount of land here and the dense tree-lined fairways, it often feels like your fourball is the only one on the course and this isolation really adds to the special feel of this place.
There aren’t many weak holes but a few of my favourites were:
4th - a great uphill par 4 with trouble left and plenty of bunkers around the green to swallow any wayward approaches.
6th - tough dogleg right where the elevated tee always tempts me to try and bite off more of the corner than I should!
8th - a stunning dog leg right where the ground all slopes left followed by a tough uphill approach into the undulating green.
10th - all of the par 3s are great here but 10 is something special. A hole I could play over and over.
11th - stunning short par 4 from an elevated tee (a truly great driving hole).
17th - a great dogleg right par 5 with a semi blind drive and beautiful approach into a green surrounded by the forest.
I agree that the par 5s are all quite short but I don’t think having the odd birdie opportunity detracts from the quality of the course. Others may disagree though. 18 is perhaps a weak finishing hole, being the weakest and least memorable of the 6 par 3s but when the 17 previous holes are as good as this, you can’t really complain.
Yet to play the Blue course so cannot compare but a 36 hole day here is something I can’t wait to book.
The Red is the better layout of the two course at The Berkshire with its unique balance of holes six par 3, par 4 and par 5’s holes which makes it more score able than its counterpart The Blue.
The terrain The Red is set upon is more interesting than The Blue with more elevation changes and angles from the tees combined with superior green complexes gives it the edge. The par 5 holes are relatively short which gives the golfer a number of birdie chances but this is countered with some difficult par 3 and par 4 holes. Holes 7 and 10 which are brilliant par 3’s both tough requiring good club selection and accuracy to walk away with pars. The 14th is a brute of a par 4 followed by the 16th another long par 3….I hit driver the day we played here. There are a number of special holes on The Red course, the par 3 2nd is a cracking short par 3 which plays uphill to a green protected by bunkers. The 6th is a 90 degree left to right dogleg that challenges the player to cut the corner from the elevated tee before a short approach to the green. The 17th is magnificent par 5 which curves from left to right it will take two almighty blows to reach this two-tiered green with your second shot. I cannot think of many better inland courses than The Red course at The Berkshire, it is playable for golfers of all levels, every hole provides a unique challenge and has wonderful green complexes …what more could you ask for!
How the Red isn't in the world top 100 is beyond me.
One of my favourite course, up there with Sunningdale Old and Swinley Forest. The 6 par 3s, 6 4s and 6 5s design creates a fantastic layout plenty of birdie chances. The start and finish are brilliant, and more courses should follow this template. It starts par 5 3 5, and ends 5 3 5 3.
Quick run down of the best holes:
2 - fantastic uphill par 3. Only a short iron. If you miss the green you'll know about it
4 - often overlooked, a great long par 4 with amazing bunkering
6 - one of the best holes on the course. Doglegs right around the trees. Very simple design
8 - gorgeous dogleg right par 4, downhill tee shot then uphill the the green
10 - best hole on the course and my favourite par 3 in golf. 190 yards all carry over a huge heathery ravine
11 - beautiful short par 4 off an elevated tee
15 - short par 5, but if you miss the fairway you will make 6
16 - one of the best par 3s in England. 220+ yards to a big green which looks tiny due top the massive bunkers short of it
A great course for both strokeplay and matchplay, with English Pinehurst No.2 vibes.