Bush Hill Park Golf Club was founded in 1895, with members playing a 9-hole course situated at Queen Anne’s Gardens in Enfield. The club was given notice in 1909 that the property was required for housing development, forcing it to relocate to the nearby Old Park Estate which was owned by Hugh Rawlinson Ford.
A new 18-hole layout opened for play on 7th June, 1913 – designed by Harry Vardon, the professional at nearby South Herts Golf Club – and both the grounds and clubhouse were purchased in 1922 for £20,000. James Braid was called in to remodel the layout in 1933, with the local paper reporting that “various improvements” were implemented and “two new holes were made.”
In the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses, authors John F. Moreton and Iain Cumming write: “The only real changes since then involve new 1st and 7th holes, and the removal of Vardon/Braid’s 10th and 18th, all short holes… Holes 1 to 12 are ‘normal’ holes, but holes 13 to 18 are on a fast descending/ascending, wooded piece of land, a wonderfully old-fashioned, tight sextet of holes.”
The local county council offered £70,000 for the course and the clubhouse in 1939, but World War II intervened and the transaction was never finalised. During the war, the clubhouse was leased to the Anti-Aircraft Brigade and ditches were dug on parts of the course to deter enemy aircraft landing. The Home Guard patrolled the course and a warden’s post and air raid shelter were also built.
The modern day layout extends to a modest 5,776 yards from the back tees but length isn’t the most potent protector of par at Bush Hill Park. The tree-lined fairways are narrow here so if you’re prone to spray the ball wide off the tee or you’re careless with approach shots to the greens then you’ll have a hard job trying to match the par of 70.
As earlier indicated, fairways laid out on the first two thirds of the course occupy a mildly undulating landscape, while the last six holes – three of which are par threes – are routed around more heavily contoured terrain to the south of the historic clubhouse and they offer golfers a thrilling, fun-filled finish to the round.
Notable holes on the course include a couple of short par fours at the 4th and 14th (both are eminently birdieable); the longest par five on the card at the 6th (rated stroke index 1, it doglegs right to a bunkerless green); and the signature hole 13th, where the putting surface sits behind a pond that slants across the fairway on a diagonal line from right to left.
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Bush Hill Park was the closest golf course to my home when growing up and I played here many times as a junior and also later in life when hosting golf days at the club. My recent round though is my first in nearly 25 years and although there was a lot of nostalgia going on in my head I must say that whilst looking at courses in design way nowadays, Bush Hill Park stands up when comparing with other north London/Herts. border courses.
Opening with a tough par-3 is not everyone’s choice of opener, including me so taking a par on this 180 yard hole is a dream start with such an exacting first shot required. The next three holes (par-4’s) run along-side each other before crossing the public footpath to the 5th, which is an excellent par-3 at 216 yards; three bunkers short of the green are perfectly positioned. Next hole of note for me is the 8th; under 400 yards dog-legging to the right from a slightly elevated tee just invites a great drive. The 9th green and 10th tee are the furthest part of the course from the clubhouse and it is here you realise how close you are to the very busy Enfield town – inside of the course boundary remains a perfect parkland oasis though. The 10th hole is my favourite par-5 on the course; a slight turn to the left and then uphill to the green and at 533 yards, probably the 2nd shot on the hole being most important.
The last six holes at Bush Hill Park give a fantastic experience and so much fun. There are three par-3’s, two par-4’s around 300 yards and an uphill short par-5 – the last third of the course has everything and would be the envy of any club trying to promote the six hole golf option that seems to be gathering some momentum in the busy world that we now live in. I would also like to highlight the par-3 16th here – 128 yards maximum in length, slightly downhill and one of the very best under 130 yard holes anywhere – one big pot bunker short and right protecting a contoured green.
Great to return to see the course after so long – loved the course quality, especially the greens and there now seems to be a move from what was perceived as a club with a certain reputation (a bit stuffy) to one that is now planning for the future.