|Brookmans Park railway station lies on the East Coast Main Line and
it was brought into service in 1926, four years before the 18-hole layout at
Brookmans Park Golf Club opened for play. The busy rail track into London
operates a quarter of a mile from the nearest point on the course so it doesn’t
affect the peaceful parkland ambience in any way. |
The Gaussen family incorporated the original Manor of Gubbins into an enlarged Brookmans estate in 1838, then sold it off in 1923 when the old manor house was divided into four family homes. The golf course opened for business seven years later but the new club had to wait a further five years until these premises were vacated, allowing the old building to be used as a clubhouse.
A couple of exhibition matches then took place on the morning and afternoon of 6 July 1935 to mark the opening of the refurbished house, with W. J. Richardson, the club professional, joined by Percy Alliss and two other local professional players. After opening the front door with a ceremonial key, Lady Clausen officially declared the new clubhouse open and the club was at last truly up and running.
In the modern era, the course measures 6,497 yards from the back tees, playing to a par of 71, with fairways set out on a densely wooded, gently undulating landscape. Configured as three par threes, three par fours and three par fives, the front nine is routed around the perimeter of a compact property so it’s no real surprise to discover that out of bounds features prominently on many of these holes.
The 480-yard 5th is the shortest of the par fives on the outward half and it presents the best chance of securing a birdie on that stretch of holes, always presuming Mirror Pond can be avoided at the bottom of the hill before reaching the green and the pin is placed in a favourable position for the approach shot to the two-tiered putting surface.
On the back nine, the water-protected par three 11th and short par four 14th are memorable feature holes, but it’s the par fours from the 16th to the 18th that golfers will remember most when they walk off the home green because they’ll just have completed one of the most demanding three-hole finishes in Hertfordshire.
Many courses around the Herts/north London border can blend in to each other because of similar land and similar course style, so it is not easy to stand-out from the crowd. Courses in this group have to be presented in top condition and have enough quality holes to be remembered – Brookmans Park are doing very well for this and in the summer of 2016 was looking as good as I have seen it for many years.
The opening hole will test everyone; at 431 yards and only a SI-10, this slightly uphill hole with a small move to the left gives a tough start. The 3rd is the first par-5 and at only 500 yards there are chances to score well but do watch out for the pin placement as a tricky green with a huge step in it awaits. Another short par-5 at the 5th with a ditch run-out at around 280 yards this time and a very strategically placed bunked 50 yards short of the green on the left gives plenty to think about. After a very nice walk to the 6th tee for the 2nd par-3 on the front nine, there is then another short par-5 at the 7th (510 yards), this is best one so far; a fade is the ideal shot-shape from the tee then another perfectly placed bunker at 100 yards out is there for a reason – a lake is in play at the hole of the left-side at about 80 yards out and if this could be brought into play in front of the green, you would then have one of the very best par-5’s in the county. The front nine ends with a par-3 with some strong green-side bunkering and the back nine starts with a downhill par-4 with a left to right turn halfway, if you favour the left-side of the fairway, this is not a difficult hole.
A pretty par-3 is the 11th hole, a mid-iron over water and coming in over a couple of bunkers – great hole. The very next however is my least favourite; an uphill long par-4 (425 yards) and in its current state can be described as a bit of a slog – fairway shaping and fairway bunkering would definitely help here. The high tee on the par-5 13th invites a big drive on this really good hole; just need to smarten up the fairway bunkering on the right as the two there at the moment are a little weak. In direct contrast the fairway bunker on the 14th (short par-4) is first class; it looks good and will cost a shot if it is found from the tee.
The final three holes give the course a very big finish – all par-4’s that cover nearly 1300 yards in total. The 16th needs attention from the tee – avoiding the woods on the left is key. I enjoy the last hole too but the hole could be even better; now it is 440 yards long with the second half of this being uphill, meaning the percentage of club golfers hitting the green in two will be low. The issue for me is that there is a cross-bunker around 50 yards short of the green – this is a punishment that the hole does not need. The suggestion would be to take the green back and make this a par-5 or remove this bunker and add fairway bunkering at around 280 from the tee.
There is a decent club atmosphere at Brookmans Park and I believe that there is a new clubhouse being planned too. The current county position of #17 can definitely be improved on and with a few tweaks, could get close to the Herts. Top 10.
Found that it was a great overall experience and picturesque. A series of tough par 4s but much variety in holes. A good solid golf course
Another average but enjoyable North London parkland course. A strong collection of par fours and generally a pleasant track but not that memorable on the whole.