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.
In 2021 Tim Lobb began a three-year programme of renovation works at Blackmoor and he commented as follows in December 2021:
“Although the club lost four holes to housing, Blackmoor is fortunate in that it is mostly surrounded by open heath, owned by the military – in fact, the course was largely built for the use of officers from nearby Borden and Longmoor Camp and residents of the neighbourhood. We have been advising the club for several years – we spent a lot of time going through the club's archive and understanding the landscape nature of the course – and now we have jointly decided it is time to put spades in the ground, so to speak.
The works are going to extend over three years – this year we are working on holes six, seven, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen, focusing on restoring the heathland environment and improving the bunkers, which have become in need of some TLC.”
Harry Colt rarely disappoints and Blackmoor is a delightful venue for a game of golf. Heathland in style it reminded me very much of The Berkshire's but with less elevational change. Plenty of natural features including thick heather, ditches and banks. Despite heavy overnight rain for October the course was in good condition. Not the longest course but after the recent rain and with a par of 69 it didn't play as easy as its slope rating. For quite a short course fairways were reasonably generous and the most of the greens large, and I imagine some of the slopes in summer provide quite a test.
Apart from one right to left dogleg (the 2nd a very nice short par 4), a noticeable feature is a whole series of left to right dogleg par 4's so the course definitely suits a fader of the ball; my favourites would be 11 and 5 where placement of the drive was essential. Quite a few greens seemed to be on a raised plateau with a steep front, and with the soft greens it made approach shots tricky. This applied to at least two of the par 3's, the 6th and 15th which at 180-190 yards to a raised plateau were not easy; pick of the par 3's was though hole 9 which was a lovely looking uphill par 3 surrounded by heather and bunkers.
Overall I think Blackmoor sits about right in the Hampshire rankings based on the courses I have played, not dissimilar but slightly ahead of Brokenhurst
Have a friend who is a member here, so have played it many times. Lovely course, with plenty of interest to hold your attention. Always in superb condition whenever I have played it, with greens that run fast and true. Holes of particular note are the 2nd (par 4) where a bold, accurate tee shot is required to set you up for your approach, The 3rd is a lovely par 4, slight dogleg right, with a green that slopes severely away from you for your second. The 4th is a long par 4, with a long, straight drive required, anything left will find heather, right will find trees. The 5th is a severe dogleg right, and the 6th is a tough par where holding the green is big ask. The 9th is a lovely par 3, played to an elevated green, with good bunkering protecting the putting surface. The 10th is a real toughie, long par 4 where again the premium is on ball position from the tee. My favourite hole is next, nice par 4 with again the premium on positioning from the tee, leaving a superb view into the green. A short, danger ridden par 3 is next, calling for an accurate tee shot to a fairly large green. The 16th is another long par 3, similar in ways to the 6th. Another tough hole to make par on. The 18th is a really tough, uphill par 4 (from an elevated tee) which calls for both accuracy and length. And even a good drive doesn't mean par is a formality, as the green has a wicked slope from back to front, and when the greens are running fast a two putt from the back isn't easy. It's easier than you think to putt back off the front of the green from here!! All in all, a superb test of golf. Fairly easy walking, no massive elevation changes, but a real test of golf. I love playing here.
Blackmoor is certainly not a staple of the Surrey/Hampshire sand belt but it does need to be in the conversation. Only out of pure desperation did I land a tee time here but I'm sure glad I did. I was making my way down from Norfolk on a mini trip which included the likes of Thorndon Park, Walton Heath (Old), West Hill and Royal Ashdown Forest, I needed a golf course to sit in one one of the days off I had. And whilst unfortunately, both Hankley and Woking were both shut for course maintenance, everything happens for a reason, and I managed to get this little gem out of the way!
I do love the clubhouse at Blackmoor, it gives you an incredible view over such a variety of holes. From watching at peoples first tee nerves, their risk reward game on the par 5 8th, their par 3 game on the 9th or their 18th hole approach roll agonizingly down the hill, it's really a surprise this place is so unheard of in the top 100 list.
Whilst the course doesn't offer the absolute stunning golf holes some others in this highly competitive region does, it's definitely worth noting Blackmoor does quite a few things right!
It's not a long course, 6900 off whites for a par 69. Modest, but what you won't realise until you get there, is that some holes are very tricky to hit driver on. The 400 yard 11th hole is a great example for this. Only a perfectly shaped driver would do here otherwise you're going to struggle to find your ball!
The members here were very friendly, with a group offering to let me and my friend go off before they did. And at the first opportunity, the group ahead let us through and allowed us a uninterrupted go at the course.
The halfway hut at Blackmoor is brilliant. It's refreshing to see hot food being made to order at a halfway hut, not enough courses do this nowadays and allows something more to look forward to on your way round. Especially on a hot day!
The hole straight after was probably my favourite, a sharp dog leg right par 4 where your tee shot is essentially cut off as much as you can chew. The left to right wind certainly didn't help but a great hole nonetheless.
We could actually hear the army training going on at neighbouring Bordon. So if peace and tranquillity is your number one priority, maybe late evening is better! Maybe it's because of my army golf that the only criticism of Blackmoor was the internal out of bounds. My tee shot on 10 did end up a yard out of bounds and I did sit there and wonder why it was. The stranger part was that it was out of bounds only on 10 and not on 18. Whilst I am open to hearing the logic behind it and maybe even changing my mind, it's punishing enough to hit a poor tee shot on 10 so why penalise even more?
Overall, Blackmoor sits in my book as a lovely place to play. Requiring a lot of thought off the tee, and some strong wrists if you plan on going in the heather! Condition was excellent, need I say more, I haven't found a course in Surrey or Hampshire which I can fault the condition.
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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.
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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.