Dunstable DownsKensworth, England
- AddressKensworth, Dunstable LU6 2NB, UK
The course at Dunstable Downs sits at an elevation of nearly eight hundred feet above sea level and it occupies a spectacular setting in the Chiltern Hills with commanding vistas across several counties, from Surrey in the south to Northamptonshire in the north.
Twenty-four years after its formation, the club acquired land at Downs Farm, close to where its course was set out on common land, before engaging James Braid to design a new 18-hole layout for the membership.
According to the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses by John F. Moreton and Iain Cumming, “by designing nine holes in the valley and nine on the high ground Braid maximised the variety of the terrain available while taking advantage of the views.”
It continues: “The course was opened without ceremony on 26th September 1931, its yardage being 6,579 yards, longer than today. The course today is virtually the same, only the numbering changed, to fit in with the changed site of the clubhouse.”
The modern day configuration of the course sees golfers tackle the only two par fives on the card at holes 1 and 3. Later on, they face the most difficult hole on the course at the 440-yard 8th (“Braid’s Best”), a long, left doglegged par four.
On the back nine – where holes 10 to 17 are all par fours – the round concludes with a very testing, 166-yard par three (“Death or Glory”), where the home green is encircled by no fewer than nine bunkers.
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James Braid was born in 1870 in Earlsferry, the adjoining village to Elie in the East Neuk of Fife. He became a member of Earlsferry Thistle aged fifteen and was off scratch by his sixteenth birthday.
Bedford & County