A mere 20 miles north of London lies the delightful Brocket Hall Golf Club, set in 500 acres of seclusion. Brocket Hall hit the headlines a decade or so ago when Lord Brocket was sent to prison after being found guilty of a £4.5m insurance fraud. Wild rumours abounded that he’d buried his classic Ferraris beneath the undulating greens of the Melbourne course, or perhaps even ditched them in the Broadwater of the River Lea. The reality was that he’d dismantled them and shipped them into a North London lock-up.
Brocket Hall was built in 1760 and it’s now rented out by the trustees on a long-term lease. Once home to two British Prime Ministers and a favourite country retreat for royalty, Brocket Hall is now a five star golf resort and both courses are named after the Prime Ministers who used to live here: William Lamb (2nd Viscount Melbourne) and Henry John Temple (3rd Viscount Palmerston).
The Melbourne course was the first course to be laid out in the grounds of Brocket Hall. Designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark, it opened for play in 1992. Many people believe that this is one of the finest designs from BBC television's voice of golf. The layout follows the natural contours of the undulating 18th century parkland and the course belies its tender age.
Measuring 6,616 yards from the back tees, with par set at 72, the Melbourne course is not a slog. It represents an enjoyable but thoroughly challenging test. The holes are varied and interesting, with the River Lea providing a beautiful but daunting hazard. The river is in play right from the off, waiting to catch anything struck too far to the right. The par three 2nd requires a full 170-yard carry directly across the river to a green which is protected by trees on both sides.
As we plot our way round the Melbourne course, each hole continues to entertain and ask questions, but the most telling question is left until the last hole. The 18th is one of the finest closing holes in golf. This teasing downhill par five appears straightforward enough from the tee. A solid drive down the left and over the brow of the hill will leave a dilemma for all but the very best golfers. The question is; lay up or go for it? Whatever the answer is, there will be time enough to spare for reflection when you are carried across the River Lea by a ferry to complete the hole.
Finally, a word about the practice facilities. Brocket Hall is home to The Faldo Golf Institute. This state-of-the-art golf instruction centre includes an indoor teaching school, a long game zone, a short game zone, a chipping and bunker zone, a putting zone and a par three, six-hole approach zone. If practice is your thing, then you cannot fail to be impressed.
Brocket Hall is one of the best golf clubs in Hertfordshire and if you are given the opportunity to play here, we thoroughly recommend it.
Outstanding golf course, beautifully laid out. The greens are tricky and true and most fairways resemble a carpet - well covered and manicured.
The course offers a real variation in a round of golf. The first hole at 300 yards on paper is straightforward, even for a hacker! Once you get on that 1st tee you soon realise you are in for a testing day. There isn't a flat lie on the fairway and the lake runs the full length of the hole to the green.
Short holes, long holes, bunker and water hazard a plenty it really is a good test of nerve and well worth a visit.
I played during a membership open day and was made to feel very welcome. Whilst exclusive I would argue it is not worth paying the higher rates when you compare it to the likes of Woburn etc. . Keep your eye out for a good deal and play it then.
lovely course surrounding the old mansion house. Many holes over water make for a great challenge, one of a few courses at the venue, very much worth a visit.
One of the best courses in the region, worth an overnight stop.
I think the 2 courses at Brocket Hall are fantastic. You can tell this is a premium venue from every aspect of the visit, from the driving into the grounds to the 19th Hole, this place oozes class.
The Melbourne course has a great layout around the River Lea with some testing holes. There is a lot of water compared to the Palmerston which is more forrest based. I think the Melbourne course is my favourite of the 2, saying that they have very similar ratings. It would be a shame to come here and not be able to play both if you get the opportunity, it's hard to have a clear favourite as they both are well worth a visit.
To add, this course used to be very expensive, unrealistically so. But I played with member previously so made it possible to get a couple of rounds in. It looks like it is under new management under the name the Melbourne club, being a local I have seen a really big improvement to the club in the last couple of years and "the Melbourne club" seems to be making a really positive difference to this club.
TEE BOXES 8
GREEN CONDITION 8
GREEN SPEED 8
VALUE FOR MONEY 5
OVERALL FEEL 8
TIME OF THE YEAR PLAYED - ALL SEASONS
I'll start by saying that as a lover of links golf I always find it hard to truly appreciate parkland/woodland golf, even on the best courses. I much prefer the 'ground game' to one where the aerial route is usually to be favoured. I did however enjoy my two rounds at Brocket Hall and can see why people are so complimentary about it.
The Melbourne course sprung a real surprise and complements its sister nicely. However, the opening hole is an unusual start and not really one I found to my liking. It plays in front of the magnificent hall alongside the River Lea but the severity of the slope on the fairway pushes this hole close to being gimmicky.
However, once that is out of the way you are in for a treat. The River Lea comes into play at the second and fourth and is strategically placed whilst the third is a wonderful rising par five. You won't see the water again until the final few holes but the middle part of the course is very solid with no really weak holes.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
I've got mixed impressions. I liked the club house and the general layout of the terrain, the service at the clubhouse was perfect, the lunch was tasty and filling. But on the other hand, the greens were unbelievably slow, the fairways of some holes (e.g. 1 and 18) were literally covered with bird droppings. There were some spectacular holes such as 2, 16, 18, but there were also some filler holes. In general, I expect more from a course where the green fees start at 100 quid.
By definition, reviews on this site are very much subjective. For me, my golfing experience is defined not just by the course but by its conditioning, its setting and the facility as a whole. As such I am simply amazed how anyone could play here and not rate it top marks.Working back, there are few finer places to play than Brocket Hall. I got a sense of what was to follow as I drove through the grounds, dropped my bag and parked up. We were taken down to the practice ground that anyone who's purchased a green fee is free to use - I've never seen anything like it. 3 huge greens to work on chipping, pitching or putting with Titleist practice balls there for your use. Then a 300 yard long driving range off grass, again with pyramids of Titleist balls, to really hone your swing. There's also a par 3 course that winds through the woods alongside......you can have a day's golf just here and never get bored, and few of us can say that about practice!Now to the course. With my own club still half under water I wasn't sure how it would be, but I needn't have worried. Course was bone dry with the tees, fairways and greens in outstanding condition, at least as good (if not better) than I found The Grove in last week. A last putt on the practice green by the tee, alongside the stunning river with the main hall up to the left.....what a sight. The 1st is a quirky par 4 that slopes viciously from left to right. But the ball settled well but left a frightening 150 yard approach to a long narrow green with the river all the way down one side. A walk up the hill takes you to the 2nd tee, and surely one of the most spectacular/daunting par 3's you'll play. 190 yards with the entire carry over the river. The green nestles on the bank on the far side between 2 giant willows - simply 'wow'.A fair par 5 to a green in the trees before another crackerjack. The par 4 4th hole requires a long drive to open up sight of the green, this time the other side of the river. The vista from here, with the old bridge and racing weir a sight to behold. What a hole. The course then moves away from the water. A short par 5 and mid-length par 3 follow before a fine short par with small raised green and treacherous bunkering. The 8th is a 90 degree dogleg with a fabulous approach over a valley before the nine ends with a short downhill par 3 that sits right by the grand mansion house.A quick stop at the halfway house before you get eased into the back nine with a par 5. But don't get your hopes up as what follows is a brut of a par 4, uphill and into the wind that, at 475 yards, only the biggest hitters will find in regulation. The course then heads back into the woods with a pair of cracking and visually stunning par 4's followed up by a 200 yards plus par 3. Hole 15 is another dogleg with the approach shot down the hill to the green on the waterside. Hole 16 is another that takes the breath away, in effect a reverse of the 4th, requiring a 170 yard shot over the water, again in sight of the bridge and weir. A short uphill par 4, the 17th, with its green surrounded by a sand filled moat gives little warning as to what's to follow for the final hole. I've been lucky to play many great courses, but this is as memorable an 18th as you'll find anywhere. Standing on top of the hill you look straight down at the mighty Brocket Hall, the green in the distance on the far side of the imposing waterway. Follow the winding fairway or boom a drive over the scrub - if you find the short stuff the ball will run down leaving you to decide if to lay up or go for it in two. Most (including me) I think chicken out, but that still leaves a 120 yard carry over the water to a green that slopes from back to front. Find the putting surface and enjoy the pièce de résistance, as a ferry awaits to winch you over the clear water to finish off your round.This is how and where those that can afford it play their golf. Seriously, pick yourself a good day, get there early to use the practice ground and then enjoy a very very special round of golf at one of the UK's most exclusive venues. I can't wait to go back and try the other course.