Formerly known as Hatfield London Golf & Country Club, the Old course at the re-branded Essendon Country Club dates back to 1976. Fred W. Hawtree originally laid it out in Bedwell Park, which is set near the little village of Essendon in delightful, rural Hertfordshire countryside.
Part of the imposing red-bricked Bedwell House (once owned by the London brewer, Samual Whitbread) was the grand clubhouse that served the Old course, but following the sale of the manor house in 2002, both the Old and New courses now operate from a restored 16th century barn located to the north of the property.
Although the Old course routing remains the same, the move to the new clubhouse required a change to the hole numbering – for example the old 1st is now the 4th.
Measuring 6,808 yards from the back tees, Essendon Old course can throw down a challenging gauntlet, but with four tees on each hole this undulating parkland layout is very enjoyable for most handicap levels.
The five one-shot holes are particularly strong on the Old course, with no fewer than four of these measuring more than 200 yards from the tips. The pick of the par threes is perhaps the 15th, where a pond must be negotiated en route to a sloping, heart-shaped green.
From the regular tees, each of the five par fives offer up genuine birdie opportunities but you will need to keep it on the straight and narrow, avoiding the many mature trees that line the fairways. Talking of mature trees, you’ll need a precise tee shot on the challenging par four 16th which doglegs to the right. Trees do not only flank this hole, but there’s a huge, sentry oak in the middle of the fairway at around 250 yards. Our advice is not to hit and hope on this hole or you are sure to card a bogey or worse.Essendon’s Old course is certainly one of Hertfordshire’s most attractive parkland courses. Its rolling topography and quiet yet accessible location combine to make Essendon Country Club a very popular golfing venue that is well worth playing more than once.
I liked both courses here, the new I found tougher than the old, but other people say they think the old is tougher.
We play here every year on a 36 hole society and get to do both courses on the same day late summertime, I would recommend this venue, the clubhouse is great, both courses are great and different too which is nice to have.
The main negative for me on the old course was the 16th hole, I get the club probably don't want to cut a mature tree down and I get the want for the hole that it makes it different, but that tree is just too big to go over it or around it if you lay up short, so you have to hit about 250 yards to be as parallel to the tree as possible to have a shot and even then, there is a break in the fairway, so you get penalised for that too as the ground is rough and not well grassed?
I actually had to hit a stinger 2 iron with a cut to get it to bounce before the tree and run past the narrowest of gaps to get through to have a shot at the green, which is genuinely a 1 in 10 chance of the shot even coming off.
Even after playing the hole perfectly, walking up the hole I was just thinking it doesn't make any sense, I could imagine this hole really ruining a round being so late on and could very easily be a good shot off the tee is ruined and leaves you with no other option but to punch a shot and run it up at the green?
I don't know, maybe other people opinions might be worth commenting on this post because I personally think it spoils the round, happy to hear other people opinions.
TEE BOXES 8
GREEN CONDITION 8
GREEN SPEED 8
VALUE FOR MONEY 7
OVERALL FEEL 7
TIME OF THE YEAR PLAYED - AUGUST
FAVOURITE HOLE - 12th par 5 - very interesting double green
I have many happy memories of playing the Old course at Essendon during the summer months after knocking off work early. Rushing from the office to the first tee that was adjacent to the manor house was always a thrilling experience. The Old was considered the poor pay-and-play relation to the private New course and it took me quite a few years before I eventually managed to play the New and, if I’m honest, I like the Old course best. The reason I prefer the Old is that it is an interesting and fun parkland course which is none too arduous and basically plays the same way (weather permitting) each day. The New is more complicated due to its dual greens which only served to muddy the focal point for me on approach shots. The New could be better than the Old, but not in my eyes until the club reconsiders the architectural merits of the dual greens.