Blackmoor Golf Club is sandwiched between the North and South Downs at the western end of the glorious sand belt, which cuts swathe through Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire. The course lies on a picturesque tract of purple heathland, from which the club takes its name.
Harry Colt originally laid out Blackmoor as a 12-hole course and it opened for play in 1913. The outbreak of the Great War prevented the expansion to 18 holes until 1924. "I am told on good authority and fully believe that I ought to bracket with Liphook and Pulborough another course," wrote Bernard Darwin in Golf Between Two Wars, "a creation of Mr Colt’s, at Blackmoor, not far from Bordon, in Hampshire, but here is one of the sad gaps in my education. I have always been going to see Blackmoor but never have." Darwin had nothing to be ashamed about, because even today, Blackmoor is not as well known as it should be.
Charles Swann started his round dramatically at Blackmoor Golf Club in October 1929 when his opening drive landed in the chimney pot of an adjacent house. The owners were somewhat surprised when the ball rattled down the chimney stack before plopping onto their burning fire.
The layout is configured in two loops, with the outward nine being the outer loop. Five par threes and only two par fives against a par of 69, ensures that Blackmoor belies its modest 6,164 yards. Blackmoor is regularly used for Regional Open Championship Qualifying and the flagship annual amateur event, the Selborne Salver, has produced some notable winners, including Peter McEvoy, Gary Wolstenholme and Ross Fisher.
Blackmoor is a truly delightful course, with spinneys of birch and fir and wonderfully sandy ground. It’s a secret jewel for the golf course cognoscenti if ever there was one.
At last! The quest to play the top 100 courses in England has resumed post-Covid lockdown.
Thus, fizz flowed from the balcony of the Blackmoor clubhouse.
Not that it was meant to but the leg of my pal, who has recently had a hip replacement, gave way as he stood up after lunch, prompting him to fall backwards and tip up the entire table of Diet Cokes etc of lady members at an adjacent table.
Fortunately, Blackmoor maintained its reputation as an exceptionally friendly club, with the onlookers more concerned with my pal’s welfare than their deposited refreshments.
It was an over-exciting end to a splendid pre-match meal during which we had garnered concern at the way in which group after group had seen shots into the 18th green fall back down its slope.
Four hours later when we made the same approach, we proved that the repeated viewings had taught us precisely nothing as we repeated what we had seen.
Anyway, I am glad to say my pal, scarred on one hip and now bruised on the other, managed to play full part enjoying this cracking course with another mate and me.
Blackmoor, designed by the genius Harry Colt, is not long but can be devilish – particularly its intricate green complexes which need to be mastered for good scores to be posted.
Considering the lack of rain over recent weeks, it was in prime condition. The greens may have been tricky but were smooth and the fairways in better shape than I had expected for the end of April.
On a benign day, good tee shots brought opportunities but second shots required pinpoint accuracy and those whose eyes became a bit too wide with excitement usually paid for their greed by seeing the ball slide off greens into testing bunkers or worse.
The holes which demand most care are the par threes.
The sixth must be one of the most demanding stroke-index 15s in the country – almost 200 yards up a steepish hill to a layered green. I took driver and came up short while my compardres found their balls slipping down the slopes on either side.
The ninth is another belting short hole, demanding a tee-shot which is guided over heather, between trees, around bunkers and on to another undulating green. Not one which I conquered.
The toughest and most fun par four, in my opinion, was the fifth which requires a straight, long tee shot before a sharp turn right and mid-iron over a bush into the narrow entrance of a green which has heather on either side.
Find the latter and I can testify that there is no way of chipping near to the flag.
Because we were playing springtime, we did not find Blackmoor’s purple stuff at its most fiendish.
I suspect that in a couple of months, the course might be a much more difficult proposition.
That’s not to say, we defeated it but we did have most enjoyable and very competitive rounds.
Indeed, thankfully, the day’s only debacle came on the clubhouse balcony.
I have lived in the heathland sand belt of Surrey and Hampshire my entire life and had barely heard of Blackmoor until I started working through the Top 100. It is a course that flies under the radar, but it really shouldn’t. There are some fabulous holes on this short Par 69.
Measuring only 6,164 yards off the whites, it is a deceptively tricky course that requires accuracy off the tee.
The best holes at Blackmoor have been reserved for those visible from the clubhouse, with a pretty opening Par 4 onto an elevated green and the stretch from holes 8-10, which includes a risk/reward Par 5 that can be reachable in two, the beautiful Par 3 9th and a brilliant driving hole from the dog leg right Par 4 10th. Finally the fine finishing hole, which offers spectators from the clubhouse balcony great views of approach shots into a green that falls off sharply into a ravine on the right hand side and a very tricky putting surface.
I can’t think of too many courses that have 5 holes visible from the clubhouse, so that must make this one of the most action packed balconies anywhere in England!
The other holes to mention were the Par 4 11th and the Par 3 12th. The 11th is Played through a narrow tree line into a fairway guarded by cleverly positioned bunkers. Like many holes on the course it suits a natural fader of the ball and if you have a fade in your locker, it would be a key asset at Blackmoor. The 12th is a beautiful short Par 3 onto an elevated Green, guarded by bunkers.
A slight negative for me are a couple of the holes at the far end of the course. Holes 7 & Holes 14 are fairly average and it felt like teeing off into a field. You’d struggle to miss the wide open fairways.
But they are the only real negatives I can pick out of a course that everyone should make a trip to play.
In a discussion about fine sand belt courses, Blackmoor is a name worthy of inclusion.
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What a treat this Par 69 Harry Colt design course this is, whilst some may think that a short course with a Par 69 is no test they would be much mistaken. The holes a wonderfully laid out with position off the tee is key and accurate irons onto raised sloping greens a necessity. The greens were immaculate with very subtle borrows. The real gems are the Par 3s ranging from 120 - 198 yds true golfing architectural works of art. The clubhouse was extremely welcoming and the outside seating commands a wonderful view of the tremendous 18th. Finally I recommend you watch the course overviews on the website before you play.
I'm a sucker for a par 69 course, and Blackmoor is no exception. Great course with lots of fun holes. From the clubhouse you can see 5 holes very close to you, and the view is stunning. The weakest holes are 5-8 and 13-15, where the heather disappears and it becomes more of a parkland course.
Holes 1, 2, 9, 10, 11 and 12 are especially good however. And 18 is one of my favourite finishing holes in golf.
Blackmoor is an anti-dote the idea that good golf courses must come with a certain degree of snootiness. It is a very good course, and is very much not snooty.
It’s a very good course because it is pretty. It’s a very good course because the greens are great, and it’s a very good course because it makes demands on all parts of your game.
My reflection is that it is an approach shot course, both on the longer holes and the par threes. The greens are generally not flat, so getting the right side of the pin is key. This is particularly the case on 18 where being wrong-sided leaves a desperately difficult put down and across the hill. It’s not impossible - but we needed a few goes to work out the line; length was nothing more than get the ball moving.
The long par three 15th was for me the hardest hole to get par; not perhaps the hardest hole to get bogey but par requires a heck of a tee shot to an upturned green. Landing on is no guarantee of staying on.
So my advice is: go, play, enjoy and then wonder why there are not too many other heathery courses in the wider Thames Valley which won’t charge an arm and a leg.
Absolute top track from start to finish. I found all of the holes interesting with a lot of dog legs adding interest to many of the holes. The greens were very pleasant and true running although not that quick for this time of year which made them enjoyable to putt on but not too challenging. It's easy walking with tree and heather lined fairways and the par of 69 is not easy to beat given the 6,100 yards of course with 5 par 3's and just two gettable in two shots par 5's (although very good and accurate tee shots needed and a long approach to tricky green on the second one of them is also needed). I enjoyed all the par 3's which are all below 200 yards but which require good accurate tee shots to elevated greens. They've recently refurbished the club house which is elevated with a great view of the course and which is very nice with a good balcony. I think that if this had the same speed of greens as Liphook it would quite possibly justify knocking it off it's perch as number one in the county. The members are very lucky to have this club which is definitely well worth a visit. I strongly recommend this lovely track and I will be back when I next get a chance to play.
One of the best in Hampshire, I would say only Liphook beats this course by a little bit however Blackmoor is an awesome golf course and in some ways quite similar to Liphook. It starts off gently with two fairly short par 4's and then it starts to get tougher with 2 longer par 4's both filled with lovely heather. A favourite hole of mine would have to be the par 3 12th, a short yet still challenging hole and looks beautiful. The course is kept in pristine condition and well deserves to be on the top 100 list, and I think it should be a little higher on that top 100 list.
One man's favourite course is not another man's; one likes links the other new courses and another old classics. Having just played Blackmoor in an Open it obviously sits in the inland/old classics, where it sits in that list is open for debate. Having just ignored all inks courses in the England Top 100 on this site, I see that Blackmoor sits outside the Top 40. With places like the 3 Ws (Woking,Worpolseden and West Hill) inside the top 20 I'd place Blackmoor right up there with them. It is probably that it is not as grand places like Swinley (another Colt Course just like Blackmoor) etc that stops this being ranked much much high..but ignore the Clubhouse, the grandness of certain clubs etc and just concentrate on what a Club has from the 1st tee to the 18th green and you'll love Blackmoor...oh and you can play it on a County Card for a great rate unlike the 3 figure sums that some other Clubs seem to want to charge US/Japanese tourist whilst failing to support Club golfers here in the UK.
Back in 2006 we formed the first English Top 100 ranking list online and we then went to print and published a book the following year. For some unknown reason Blackmoor didn’t make our inaugural England Top 100, but the course has appeared in every iteration of our biennial rankings since then. Last Sunday I finally made the trip to Bordon to play Blackmoor and I genuinely wish I’d made the journey sooner.
It’s a lovely Golden Age Harry Colt-designed heathland course which has a touch of parkland about it in places, largely due to the sheer number of trees. Set in a quiet spot, not far from Liphook and Hindhead, Blackmoor goes about its business, flying under the radar in a quiet and unassuming way.
We played off the white tees on Sunday (6,164 yards, par 69) and despite its modest yardage it didn’t feel too short. The greensites at Blackmoor are nothing short of stellar. Never before have I seen so many false fronts on one single 18-hole course. The contouring of the greens ranges from subtle to rather wild (especially the 18th) and they are exactly my cup of tea.
The routing in places is a bit awkward and I suspect this is not the original flow. No doubt the club decided to alter the routing at some point to allow the course to return to the proximity of the house after nine holes. The course clearly must have looped back in some form originally, but probably not as it does today. I found some of the bunkering slightly uninspiring and there are too many trees that have smothered the heathland characteristics in places, but overall I enjoyed the course immensely and would recommend Blackmoor to be included within any heathland itinerary.
The elevated par threes are quality, as you would expect from Harry Colt, and even though the yardages at #6 and #15 are identical, the holes point in opposite compass directions. The par four 5th is an intriguing 404-yard par four that features a deep ditch at the elbow of the sharp dogleg right. The tee shot needs not only to be long enough to avoid being blocked by trees, but also as tight as possible to the line of the ditch to leave the shortest approach to a wonderful bunkerless greensite that seems to be cut into the land and so creating an attractive amphitheatre effect.
I understand Tim Lobb is consulting at Blackmoor and will be using old aerial photos to help in the restoration of this Harry Colt classic. I wonder which bunkers are original and which have been added at a later date? My bet is that the three long and narrow, diagonally offset traps, which are set some 30 yards from the 10th green, are not originals. This is a long 448-yard par four and these traps seem overly penal and out of character to me, unless the hole was perhaps formerly a par five.
Blackmoor has the potential to be a strong 5-ball rated course. As it stands I believe it’s still a worthy 4.5 rating, but it could be better and I’m sure it will improve over time, as the club seems to be progressive. Currently ranked #75 in England Blackmoor has the prospect to threaten the English Top 50 in my humble opinion. A magic wand would make the overhead high voltage cables disappear, but that is not a criticism of the course itself. After all, I liked it. I liked it a lot.
My youngest son and i played Blackmoor today on County Cards. I can honestly say that both of us felt in was the best inland course we had played in the British Isles. Comparing the beautifully manicured tees and fairways with fairly fast but true greens to other courses like Sunningdale, Wentworth and Gleneagles, Blackmoor was in so much better condition. My son Darren a professional rugby player also had Woodhall Spa as his best inland course before this one. Although my score was not anywhere near to handicap and even though Darren had 7 pars he also had an 8 and a 9 we both can't wait to take on our other siblings on this fabulous course.
Food in the clubhouse was also pretty decent and we were made to feel very welcome at the clubhouse. Something is very wrong in the marking for rankings for this course to be so low down in the pecking order. After playing Perranporth and Huntercombe in the last week this was light years better. Not only did you have to think on every shot but you knew it was only your own ball striking that stopped you playing well. They also had a course planner something most of the East Anglian courses like Aldeburge, Ipswich Purdis Heath and Woodbridge Heath do not. The 3 aforementioned i have played in the last 6 months and none of them deserve any where near the ranking of Blackmoor. i realize that Gleneagles PGA and others like Sunningdale are set up for the Pro to play but the New course lacked the clear signposting of this one. Also the quality of walking on carpet manicured fairways at a realistic cost of £50 not £215 for something so good cannot be emphasized enough. To my mind only Royal Dornoch, Royal Birkdale and Turnberry really deserve to be rated higher than Blackmoor.
Interesting review. Blackmoor does sound like excellent value for money. Given how odd the weather has been in the first 6 months of the year I think you might forgive any of the courses you have played if they weren’t quite in the condition ( Sunningdale didn’t hold the Foursomes this year because of the snow... in March). Neither Old nor New at Sunningdale is set up for the Pros - in fact the club has resolutely stuck to the position that it is a members’ club and the courses should not be altered for Pro tournaments - hence why we can only really challenge the Ladies and Seniors these days.Wentworth West is a different matter.