The Grove is one of the newest and most enterprising golf course projects recently undertaken in England. Designed by Kyle Phillips (the man behind Kingsbarns), the course opened for play in September 2003 to rave reviews and it's already considered by some to be the best course inside the M25. This is not your typical golf club. In fact, it isn’t a golf club at all – it’s a pay-and-play golf course open to everyone.
More than a decade on, it's a venture that seems successful. It was hard to imagine a course (and the facilities) of this quality without a club and associated members attached. The Grove has certainly attracted many pay-and-play guests and, what's more, they all receive an exceptionally friendly welcome. All the staff are focused on customer service and they will do their level best to cater for your every whim.
We played here first in mid January 2004 and we were staggered. Despite all the rain, the overall condition of the course was outstanding. We’ll actually go as far as to say that the Grove’s overall mid-winter state is better than the condition that many top courses achieve in late spring.
When you drive up the private road towards the “resort”, your first impression might be that you’ve arrived at a new upmarket municipal. The land itself appears uninspiring, fairly open, a few undulations but nothing much else. However, when you get out on the course itself, you immediately appreciate the quality and you quickly begin to acknowledge the design. Phillips has done a neat job, using the natural contours of the land in an understated way to create a discerning golf course. No doubt the Levy brothers, owners of the Grove, were delighted to host the 2006 World Golf Championships... this was the first time that the American Express event visited Britain and a certain Tiger dominated the field to claim the 2006 title.
Here's what Ernie Els had to say about The Grove after the 2006 WGC: "I loved The Grove. Let me tell you, it is very, very impressive. I would say it's the best-conditioned golf course in Europe, certainly from my experience. Everything was perfect; the course is great, the tees, fairways and greens were incredibly manicured and the practice facilities were amazing. And the food we had at the club all week was magnificent. This was the benchmark for how a tournament should be. It was that good."
Four large teeing areas on each and every hole cater for all golfing standards. Measuring a hefty 7,150 yards from the back tees to a leisurely 5,500 yards from the front tees. The raised undulating greens are simply fantastic, very fast and very true. There are no excuses for three putting here. However, if you miss the green with your approach shot, you can be faced with some very tricky recovery chip shots. The fairways are thickly grassed and very lush; the ball seems to sit proudly on top, giving the handicap golfer loads of confidence and every chance to make clean contact with the ball.
The Grove is certainly a course for the cognoscenti and it was back in the spotlight in October 2016 for the Luke Donald-hosted British Masters, which Sweden's Alex Noren won by two shots from Austria's Bernd Wiesberger. Never happy to rest on laurels, The Grove’s greenkeeping team (in consultation with Kyle Phillips and his shaping specialist Theo Travis) completed a renovation of all 90 bunkers in June 2020.
I played on the Professional Cricketers Association Golf Day earlier this week, and from an experience viewpoint, it was 2nd to none. Laurent Perrier Champagne in my named Locker, bags tagged with your own name engraved on the tag, staff who could not be more friendlier and helpful if they tried, superb outdoor range with Trackman and a pyramid of beautifully white golf balls - I could go on - the food, the restaurants, the champagne on the 12th....
But this is a course review, so unfortunately whilst the experience was at least 5 balls, the course itself, whilst immaculately conditioned, including green staff hand cutting with scissors around the cups on the greens, it doesn't quite reach the same lofty heights, from a design point of view.
As others have commented before, the course and resort is there to appeal to a certain market and as corporate golf goes, this is the place. An American design, it doesn't have the same grandeur or memorability as say The Oxfordshire which I played the week before (review on this site). It does however flow nicely - you do need a buggy as gaps between greens and tees would make for tired legs on a hot day! - away from, back and round Grove house. You get to see some of the holes as you make your way down the single lane road and over the canal to the Resort.
I felt the best section was the front 9 upto and including the holes around the house. A good mix of par 5's (2), par 3's (2) and par 4's of varying lengths (351 yards opener to 445 yards). Infact 4 of the par 4's on the front 9 were all over 436 yards long.
The back 9 is weaker in my view - didn't like the dog leg left, blind bend on the 10th which starts the back 9 and thought the 15th off the tee was visually poor - no idea where the fairway was, although once you drive over the bunkers on the left hand side and wander down, the fairway opens up. And whilst the downhill par 3 12th is best visually par 3, the 4 of them around the course are similar - 142 yards to 209 yards off the medal tees, the 209 yard hole being the 12th and playing downhill, plays similar lengths to the medium length others.
And to be honest, the remainder of the back 9 has become a blur, only 2 days after playing - that always tells me something.
Bunkering is good, rough was knee length once you wandered off target far enough, there's a bit (but not a lot) of water, namely the 3rd and 4th holes, and the par 5's all relatively short, reachable in 2 and without doubt no issues in 3!
All in all a nice course, so well maintained, with greens that sped up as the day went on (started at 9.5 on Stimp) and were true and could be trusted, some nice holes with a few to many average designs to make this standout for me as a course.
But the experience, well that was a different matter as I watched England chase down New Zealand, whilst chatting with cricketers over a cold beer. Heaven.
Very enjoyable course and always in great condition...
It is a hotel course, so is perhaps lacking vintage..
Will certainly play again...
The Grove is a really nice golf resort and the course itself is definitely fun to play. We played there 3 times during a long weekend there in late April. First of all the course is in perfect condition and the service from the moment you arrive on the property until the 19th hole is truly a 5 star experience. From the tee the course is pretty generous but on and around the greens the course can bite back. The greens are superb but tough to read and getting up and down around them can be really tricky if you miss it in the wrong spots. There are some good holes on both fronts with holes 3-5 being the best stretch on the course, with water coming into play on two of them. Holes 10, 13 and 16 on the back 9 really catch your eye as well. As others have mentioned the home stretch and specially the 18th hole isn't quite strong enough and didn't do it for me.
But, overall the resort and the golf course is definitely worth the visit and playing a couple of rounds in these pristine conditions is something everyone will enjoy!
This was by far the best golfing experience I have ever had I mean to say you get treated like a celebrity would not be an understatement. You show up to a gorgeous looking manor and drive past the facility's, park next to someone’s Ferrari and head to the pro shop. Once you are there straight away you feel very welcome and made to feel that your next 4-5hours is going to be an outstanding experience. You then get navigated to the range where someone is waiting for you with your balls, tees and a drink. Once you have warmed up you make your way to the starter on the first tee who will give you every piece of information you could imagine, asked if you want freebies and a drink.
The golf course itself is a thing of beauty and as you can imagine really well kept, the fairways are stunning and the green although tricky are in spectacular conditions. The course layout does require you to walk some distance from the greens to tees but this doesn't effect your experience massively. The course does have significant sand traps quite cleverly laid out but a well placed tee shot will reduce this issue. On the 18th you’ll have someone come and ask if you want your clubs cleaned whistle you enjoy the 19th hole.
I truly believe this course is a must play for any golfer, well worth the money and after playing here I can see why it’s the highest ranked in it’s county.
This is an exceptional course that over years of playing has only become more enjoyable to visit and play. The team are amongst the best, most-welcoming anywhere and the entire experience from a hospitality to (most importantly) golf has been ever-exceptional and even matured. The course condition is largely impeccable and whilst the greens perhaps are not the most challenging in the cooler months of the year - it still is simply a great place to play. Being very close to London a day-trip is easily manageable and even an overstay is worth considering. Excellent.
The Grove has its market and they’re happy steering directly into it. There is a certain type of customer base in mind here. Within easy reaching distance of the cash rich folk in and around London, the accommodation is luxurious with spa facilities and an excellent set of restaurants. When you head to the course, one of the staff will greet you and make sure that you’re made to feel welcome. The starter at the tee comes with a smile and the complementary goodies, and naturally, the course is in superb condition. But strip all of that back and what do you have? The answer is a slightly better than average course on an average piece of land.
The land at The Grove is gently rolling and the design is solid, it’s well bunkered, it provides a good test of your game and has a variety of interesting greens. The course never really gets out of third gear though. I felt the designer played everything a little safe and likely kept rigidly to his brief; nothing too risky or quirky that’s going to upset the customer base. This is ultimately golf for the mass market whereas I personally want to seek out something a little more inspired or see something original. Despite playing here twice, I never found myself truly engaged with many of the holes blending into one another.
There are some good holes on the outward nine, and I particularly enjoyed the holes in and around the manor. I felt the tempo dropped a little on the back nine, and whilst the downhill par three 12th was the most eye-catching hole coming home, thereafter, the closing holes are slightly lacklustre to meet the high expectations I have for an England top 100 venue. Ultimately, I like to play a course that leaves me with some sort overriding emotion, but I found The Grove a little soulless. It’s a good day out and the course is plenty enjoyable, it’s all just a little too clean, corporate and safe for my tastes.
After such a long lockdown it really was a privilege to book a tee time at the Grove and get back on the fairways. Driving in on one of the first warm and sunny April days we have had and looking at the beautifully manicured holes awaiting us simply underlined how much we have all missed this sport.
After 5 months off golf my game has been pretty poor since Golf reopened so I needed the immaculate practice facilities before teeing off. As others have commented the staff are first rate from the welcoming reception, to the guy at the end who offered to clean our clubs. Very friendly, top class service throughout.
So to the course. It’s generally pretty generous off the tee, encouraging you to reach for the driver more often than not. On the other hand an errant approach shot is often harshly punished.
I was playing the course blind which early on was to my advantage (whilst my game held out) as I was hitting greens in regulation, often unaware of the literal pitfalls that could have befallen me until after I was standing on the green safely with putter in hand. I was glad not to be through the back of the beautiful par 3 4th hole for instance. This would have required a chip out of a hollow to a quick green sloping back to front, with a brook waiting for you on the other side.
Later on I started missing greens by fractions and was duly punished each time. I’ll make use of the pre match short game area next time too :-D
Memorable holes for me were:
The 4th, a 170 yard par 3 to a raised green with a brook below to catch anything short.
The 10th, a short dog leg left in which (unlike many other holes on the course) your accuracy is very much tested off the tee, as you need to thread the ball between two sentinel trees. I duly hit one and then had to play my approach over the top of the left hand tree to make the green.
The 17th. Not for any reason other than how badly I underestimated it. Having played a great drive, the hole looked very straight forward. I picked out my 3 wood with apparent impunity and had eagle putt thoughts flying through my head, only to pull the shot slightly short of the bunkers guarding the left of the green. Still, no bother, just chip on for birdie I thought. When I arrived at the ball however I found it on a slope, in the rough, with not only the bunker to negotiate but nothing short of a ravine in between myself and the pin at the front of the green. Seve himself would have struggled from there and that was one place in which I would have been better off if I had been aware of the trouble I think!
I’m a links golf fan, but this was a great parkland course only 15 minutes from my home. I think it deserves its place as the best course in Hertfordshire and if I was not so local I would say it is definitely worth a weekend away to play. So I’m going to score it in that bracket. I’ll definitely be back.
Not often in this life can you say “I’ve hit that like one of the greats of the game…” but here at The Grove you can…But we will come to that…
Currently The Grove Golf Club sits proudly as the No.1 golf course in Hertfordshire and no.78 in England in the Top 100 Courses list, yet the course divides opinions amongst the numerous playing partners that I have shared around this venue, but the facilities have not.
The grand driveway that meanders through the course leading up to the impressive hotel and immaculate grounds conjures images of a 19th Century manor house. You are met by attentive staff who ensure that you are well looked after for the duration of your stay (be resident or non-resident), with valet parking, club cleaning and shoe service as standard.
The stables bar is where most golfers convene prior their rounds, a very relaxed atmosphere with a great selection of food and drink to enjoy prior to teeing off.
The practice facilities are also of a very high standard and well maintained and a very well stocked pro shop also awaits.
To the main event, The Course, and this is where opinions are split…
The course opened in 2003 so in the overall scheme of things is just in its infancy, but managed to attract in some high ranking events early on to propel its status as a serious contender in the ‘London Elite’.
The first hole is a lovely opening to the course, for bigger hitters it really is a risk/reward hole that can set you well on your way to a good score.
The front 9 is a nice blend of holes and elevations with 3 main holes that stand out:
3rd Hole, S/I 1 named ‘Hoggery’. You need to take out the metal off the tee here and try to peel one off the bunkers on the left to leave an ideal shot is as ‘Hells Lake’ is situated just in front of a very well protected green and makes for a very tricky second shot.
4th Hole S/I 9 named ‘Boathouse’ and for me the signature hole of the course. A lovely little par 3 over a bubbling stream and the pin can be attacked wherever it is placed on the green.
9th Hole S/I 5 named ‘Ruined Tower’ and this is where you get to test yourself against probably the greatest player the game has ever seen. 3 Plaques are placed on the 9th fairway to commemorate the 3 eagles made by Tiger Woods in 4 rounds in the 2006 WGC event held at the Grove. The 9th Hole then was played as the 18th in that event and the plaques are located around 270 yards to the front edge of the green. A great opportunity to really see if you can ‘Hit it like Tiger’, My suggestion is Driver off the deck…
Unfortunately for The Grove, the back 9 then lets the course down…in no means the quality of maintenance as the standard has always been of a very high level, but from the 10th, the holes do seem to follow a similar pattern. The only real stand out hole on the back 9 is the Par 3 16th S/I 18 Mausoleum, a nice short Par 3 which offers up a great chance for birdies, but then follows the fairly predicable 17th and 18th which leave you wanting more from closing holes.
In my opinion the Back 9 is where The Grove moves from being a Top 50 contender to moving into the latter stages of the Top 100, mainly on design.
In the visits I have made to this course over time, be it in Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn the maintenance has always been consistent with a course in the Top 50 and of a very high standard. The service and the golfing facilities match the 5* level of the hotel, so again cannot be faulted, but you cannot help but leave the course just thinking “If only the course was as impressive as the facilities”
All in all a very enjoyable golfing experience awaits at The Grove and I always recommend this as a great destination.
For all photos of reviews, please follow Chris’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/top.100.golf/
Perhaps we should ask Gareth Bale which is his number one course in Hertfordshire. In a framed photo at The Grove, he has written that it is his favourite anywhere and yet (probably false) rumour had it that his deal to return to Spurs was done at Hadley Wood.
As previous reviews show, The Grove doesn't have universal approval.
These views have mainly come from those who are commenting on the course rather than the experience.
Let's be clear - the price of playing at The Grove accounts from more than the time between the first tee and the final putt on the 18th.
This is a place to play good golf and be treated like someone who earns £600,000 a week, such as the aforementioned Welsh Wizard.
Whether you arrive in a Fiat or Ferrari, you are treated as if you are the most important person who has ever arrived there - even in the current Covid environment.
Ok, there is no valet parking at the moment (probably unnecessary anyway), but there are myriad neat touches from staff who are pleasant and knowledgable.
Yes, I did like the range with complimentary balls and the course marshall who provided us with towels during our round as rained rolled down the backs of our necks.
I reckon the after-match pie was the tastiest I have ever eaten - and, as my figure suggests, I am a man who likes his food,
Obviously, these are all add-ons to the main event - the course.
So, let me say, having played on 27 of England's top 100 since June, few greens have bettered The Grove's - and this was the last week in October.
There was a pitch and place rule on the fairways but there need not have been. They were in excellent shape.
However, you cannot get away from the fact that this is corporate golf - wide fairways and too many holes which don't stick in the memory.
That's not to say it's easy. It isn't. But on a rainy autumn day, it was too much a test of brute force rather than intricate golf for me.
The 3rd hole epitomises my point - a par 4, stroke index one with water guarding a green which would be impossible to reach in regulation for all but very low handicappers.I played it like a par five but even then couldn't hold the ball on the green with my third shot.
The par 3, 4th is arguably the prettiest hole, over water and with barges parked by its side.
I also liked the dogleg 10th, which requires a tee shot between chestnut trees and an approach over bunkers in front of the green.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and one of my playing partners said he enjoyed the wide fairways. I also know that some golfers think of quirky holes (which I love) as 'Mickey Mouse'.
But this site is all about comparisons, even they are subjective and even if Mr Bale doesn't agree, I preferred the Hadley Wood course.
However, I did very much enjoy being treated like a king. Who doesn't?
Thanks Neil, some great words and a decent account of the course. As you know The Grove and Hadley Wood although only 18 miles apart are very different beasts and will appeal for different reasons. The Grove probably the best pay and play in England and Hadley a well respected members club that has improved as course hugely in the last 15 years. For the record, Gareth was not at Hadley last month (I was there that day and can confirm it was 'fake news') but it did get the club some extra exposure, which is always nice.
The course opened for play in 2003 and its has grown in stature every year since. You will find no members here. A public course of the highest order. Customer is king here. Upon arrival your clubs are taken from you (with permission), cleaned, placed on a buggy and adorned with a personalised bag tag with your name and tee off date and time. At the end of your round, your clubs are then cleaned once more and placed in your car for you. You don’t expect this level of service from too many courses in England, but I do expect this when the price tag is what it is. £195 per person at peak times in summer (ooff!).
The range and practice green are faultless, and their condition matches perfectly to the outstanding course to come.
The course sits within the M25 and therefore could just about boast the finest golf course in such a location. It’s proximity to the capital is unique and has therefore been used by Ex-Prime Minister David Cameron when hosting President of the United States Barrack Obama. The England Football Team also use The Grove’s facilities as their rest and relaxation before games at Wembley Stadium.
I really enjoy playing at The Grove. There are some who slam the course as being unimaginative, too easy – Far from it. Because The Grove delivers on exactly what it promises – a very high quality resort golf experience on a course presented in stunning condition.
The condition of the course is fantastic. I have played it several times, at different points in the year, and it has never failed to look spectacular and play well. The greens are a particular high point. The always play true and can be really slick. USPGA standard – yes please!
In 2006, The Golf hosted the World Golf Championships. Tiger was in attendance. Tiger dominated. Tiger won. Tiger scored an Eagle on No. 18 three days in a row. To commemorate the feat, The Grove installed three separate plaques on the hole on the spots where Tiger hit his approach shots from. The course has also received continued recognition as host of the 2106 British Masters, hosted by Luke Donald, won by Alex Noren. I was in attendance on Sunday, and despite the torrential morning rain, it was a pleasure to be on ‘London’s Country Estate’ once more.
One of my favourite memories here is playing on Boxing Day with my Dad and brother. My Dad, told us we couldn’t get on the course, faking a telephone call in the car, and instead told us we were going to have to turn around and head home. Off the M25 we came, round and round the Watford roundabout we went until he finally turned off. Dizzy, we were unsure what direction we were headed but the sound of the indicator pinging in the direction of the main gate got us a little excited. We were the only ones on the course that day and the condition was just as good as any other English course I have played, even in Spring.