Lord Lambourne, former Lord Lieutenant of Essex, drove the first ball on the new course at Chigwell Golf Club on 3rd October 1925. Thereafter, a 4-man exhibition match was played involving two of golf’s Great Triumvirate, J.H. Taylor and Harry Vardon, along with Bert Batley, the club’s first professional, and Charles Whitcombe.
Charles was one of three famous Whitcombe brothers; Ernie had finished runner-up in The Open the year before and Reg would go on to win the same event in 1938. All three played in the 1935 Ryder Cup at Ridgewood County Club in New Jersey and Ernie’s son Eddie would serve as Chigwell’s professional for thirty-three years before he retired in 1983.
Holes are routed across pleasantly undulating parkland with tree-lined fairways extending to 6,309 yards from the back tees and par set at 71. The four par threes on the scorecard are sensibly spaced out at holes 2, 6, 10 and 14 and they vary from 136 yards to 191 yards, providing a decent test for golfers of all handicap levels.
Perhaps the pick of these holes is also the longest, the 14th, rated stroke index 10. Out of bounds lurks on the left side of this hole so a bail out shot to the right is often the sensible option here. The green sits at the highest point of the course, offering splendid views of Epping Forest to the north.
Other notable holes include short par fours at the 311-yard 8th and the 318-yard 16th, where there’s the potential to bag a birdie at either of these two. Don’t expect the same opportunity to arise at the two toughest holes, the 377-yard 4th and 457-yard 15th, as these are altogether sterner propositions.
A severely left to right sloping fairway leads to a canted green on the 4th, while a heavily sand-protected two-tier green awaits approach shots to the long 15th. Having defences like these to contend with, it’s no surprise to learn that most players are more than content to walk away with a net four at both holes.
Chigwell has done well to keep pace with maintenance issues in recent years, refurbishing many of the bunkers and operating a tree management programme to keep its arboreal inventory in good order. Hawtree Ltd. has also suggested further improvements, so watch this space for news of future course enhancements.
Chigwell is usually in good condition and has a number of strong holes and a lovely par 3 collection.
My third visit to Chigwell; it is a decent parkland course (comfortably part of an Essex Top 10) with some very strong holes and the very first hole sets the scene early; no gentle start here – a 467-yard par-4 to get you going – really a par-5 for most. Any course with a strong set of par-3’s is remembered and Chigwell’s are really good; if I use a different club for all of the short holes on a course, then I am on-board and I did here. In fact, my favourite part of the course are the five holes from the 6th with par-3’s at the 6th and the 10th – really good one-shotters with plenty of opportunity but also both with plenty of bunker protection.
Chigwell Golf Club is on its way to centenary (2025) and situated in a very residential area, some may say the posh end of town where 'birds of a feather' flock together. The properties that border the course are pretty special and are certainly on millionaires’ row rather than where us regular people live!
Greens played very well, in terms of roll and consistency and presentation of the approaches too were first class – just a little nod towards the tees; a little scruffy and need a little extra attention, I think.
This is a members’ club through and through and like many English clubs in the summer of 2020 they have been swamped with demand to join and also from the casual golfer to get a round in on a decent course – it is very noticeable that the members are very happy here.
The course finishes strongly, with the 15th being similar to the 1st hole in the sense that it can be called more than a par 4 really; 457 yards and two of most players’ very best will still be short of the hole, a stroke index of 2 helps out though.
Votes for the best closing hole in Essex? I would like to suggest the 18th here – 556 yards, pretty straight but with the fairway sloping down around 200 yards from the green and then up to the putting surface, mean that this is a real test to finish well – water on the left at 150 yards short of the green is to be considered too.
Overall, I would recommend a round at Chigwell and now with a forward-thinking team, the club is embracing the modern world – this helps with perception and maybe smoothing previous thoughts of Chigwell being a closed shop.
Our ratings for a 3.5 ball nomination say, “A decent course that's worth playing if you're in town” – sounds about right to me and you may just get lucky and see a WAG or two in the gardens backing on to the course.
A very pleasant undulating, parkland course in Essex. Conditioning was great when I played. Holes 8 and 15 were my favourites as on a lot of the other holes, it feels a little bit ‘back and forth’. Certainly worth a round if you’re in the area.