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.
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.