Located a mere 20 miles to the north of the capital and close to leafy Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, lies Brocket Hall Golf Club. With two courses named after Prime Ministers who used to reside at Brocket Hall, the Palmerston is the new kid on the block, opening for play in 2000.
Designed by Donald Steel and measuring a whopping 7,080 yards from the championship tees, the Palmerston is a real test. The course winds its way through the undulating estate where majestic specimen trees, including hornbeam, beech and pines create a feeling of intimacy and pose as impressive hazards. Steel’s design philosophy was to provide a top quality course with the least possible intrusion on the site. We think he has exceeded his objective with the Palmerston course and it’s probably just as well, because this is top quality land.
Unlike the older Melbourne course, the River Lea doesn’t come into play on the Palmerston course. Instead, there’s bold bunkering to contend with and, of course, avenues of trees. Steel has created a thinking man and women’s course where the golfer is presented with options. Central bunkers divide the 3rd fairway and the 4th tempts the big hitters to drive left, over a small hollow and across the corner of the dogleg. The short par five 9th is also tempting to attack in two shots, but cleverly positioned greenside bunkers await anything but the best struck approach shot.
Your approach shot on the par four 12th must negotiate an unusual chalk face which lies some 100 yards from the green. This really is a delightful hole, which requires pinpoint accuracy from the tee.Without doubt, Brocket Hall Golf Club is a classy and stylish place to play golf and the Palmerston course is a delightful contrast to the Melbourne. In many ways the Palmerston is reminiscent and almost as good as Woburn’s Marquess course. Add in the famous Auberge du Lac restaurant and you’ve got a tasty venue.
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 Palmerston Course is a great test of skill and you have to be accurate in direction off the tee as well as placing the ball at the correct distances on some tough doglegs through the trees. Summertime is brilliant, winter time it can get very wet as its well shaded by very mature trees, sometimes the course is closed and the Melbourne stays open.
This course in the peak season is hard to beat.
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 7
GREEN CONDITION 8
GREEN SPEED 8
VALUE FOR MONEY 5
OVERALL FEEL 8
TIME OF THE YEAR PLAYED - ALL SEASONS
It is usually the much acclaimed Palmerston course that receives most of the plaudits but as I found out on my recent visit to the Brocket Hall complex there isn't much between the two and I'd happily return to play either.
The Palmerston course has a quick getaway hole which is generous off the tee but requires respect when playing into the green. The next half a dozen or so holes meander through fantastic woodland (including rare Hornbeam, Scots and Corsican Pine and 300 year old Oak trees) with the fourth hole being the pick of the bunch where you are teased into going for an aggressive drive down the left when really a fairway wood or long iron will work the sweeping contours of the hole just as well to leave a perfect approach into a long raised green with nothing for right.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Just like Melbourne, which I played in the morning, the Palmerston disappointed me, especially because of the greens which were very, very slow. The course is showing some wear and will probably require some serious investment in the near future.
Had the pleasure of playing The Palmerstone course with 7 friends on 4th Feb on what proved to be one of the very few non-downpour days so far in 2014. So wet has it been that most other courses in the area were closed, so we weren't sure what to expect. What we weren't expecting for sure though was a course that, other than the odd bunker, showed no sign of the appalling recent weather. Fairways were firm and the greens were as true and as quick as you'd expect in the height of summer. It really was quite remarkable; member's fees are certainly re-invested back into the club, that's for sure. The course itself is a challenging layout, especially from the back tees. The opening couple of holes lack a little drama but force you to hit long and straight to make par. From there though you enter a succession of holes carved through the forest that are simply stunning and remind one of Woburn, the dogleg par 4 4th hole and sweeping dogleg par 5 6th particularly special. The nine ends with a reachable par 5 but with the green protected by spectacular bunkering you've got to be a special player to even think about going for it. The back nine starts with a lengthy par 5 before re-entering the forest at the stroke 1 par 4 11th that demands a 250 yard carry just to make the fairway and afford a sight of the pin. The 12th, with the fairway and green separated by a small chalk quarry, is a simply stunning visual hole with the drive genuinely exciting, while the monster par 5 13th that runs along the old wall of the estate is as good a hole as you'll find anywhere, with the green framed by the tall trees. A long downhill par 3 followed by two tree lined par 4's are equally special before a short uphill par 3 sets you up for the finale, a double dogleg par 5 for which the final approach shot to a well guarded green affords views of the beautiful Brocket Hall, it's outbuildings and the broadwater that are such features of Melbourne Course. Post round the food in, and views from, the clubhouse were cracking and the newly refurbished locker rooms all just added to a great experience. That's before we talk about the practice facilities which surely have to be amongst the best (if not the best) on offer anywhere in the country. This really was winter golf at it's very very best, up there with The Grove in terms of conditioning but all over it in terms of a course with natural beauty. Play it if you can.