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 really struggle to tally the negative reviews of this place. As you’d expect from a 5 star resort, service is impeccable and the conditioning of the course was second to none - tees, greens and fairways were immaculate. This doesn’t seem to be contended by most reviewers. However, a number of people have bemoaned the design or called the land uninspiring, which just isn't fair at all. The ground is hilly (I can assure you that is the case having carried clubs up and down the hills!) and beautiful (certainly on a Summer's evening). In terms of land, it is not dissimilar to the land that Oakmont is built on (before people moan, I am not comparing the Grove to Oakmont but it cannot be denied that the piece of land is pretty similar) and rarely does Oakmont get criticised for being on an uninspiring piece of land. Secondly, the design here at the Grove is actually very good. There are some very good holes: 4 is a great risky par 3 played over a stream, 5 is a brilliantly bunkered, long par 4, 8 is a great dogleg par 4 played from an elevated tee which tempts you to try and take on the dogleg but with bunkers on the outside of the fairway as well as a sneaky bunker on the inside catching the overly greedy golfers, 10 is a great shorter par 4 that doglegs severely and gives you the option to take on the dogleg or to play safe and leave a fuller shot into a green surrounded by bunkers, 13 is a great par 3 played from an elevated tee down to a green that looks closer than it is, 14 is a shorter par 4 with well-placed bunkers ready to catch out the aggressive drive and 18 is strong finishing hole. The real highlight of the design though, is the fantastic green sites. The green undulations and run-off areas are fantastic (holes 5, 12 and 17 are my favourites) and mean you really have to be striking your irons well to score around here. Yes, this isn't a links course, it isn't one of the great heathland tracks but for what it is, it really is very good (and not too expensive if you can bag a Summer Twilight slot for £99).
totally over rated, super expensive for an average course. great facilities bt not worth the money. played several times but would recommend other local courses before you part with your money here.
I understand that golf course rankings are designed to encourage debate and controversy but how this course is ranked above Hadley Wood, Berkhamsted, Ashridge, Moor Park and a few others in Herts is a mystery to me. The greens are excellent (and it's nice to have a flunky carry your clubs from the car park to the first tee but that is a luxury I can well live without) but the layout, topography and scenery are very bland and a key part of the defence on many holes is thick juicy rough not far off the fairway.
The green fee in peak season is £195 or three to four times the cost of playing at any of the clubs named above. I won't be back - unless someone else is paying.
Just North of London, this course at The Grove hotel is a previous host of the British Masters. The conditioning is amazing at this resort course, and can have particularly quick greens. However, despite it being a lovely spot, for a round, no real holes can be described as particularly memorable here. I would encourage players to keep an eye out on the 9th fairway for the plaque dedicated to Tiger Woods feats here during a previous World Golf Championship. All in all, this is my least favourite Kyle Phillips design that I’ve played, but is still not a bad spot for a day out.
The Grove is probably best known for Tiger Woods winning the 2006 World Golf Championships and has a reputation as one of the elite corporate golf venues in the Uk. The service as you would expect from a Troon managed facility is second to none from the bag drop guys, proshop and F&B are all very welcoming and organised. This Kyle Phillips designed course is perfect for all levels of golfer and the presentation was excellent. For me though the course is relatively bland although it has a number of nice holes which are mainly on the front 9 such as 2 which you drive from an elevated tee to a green set well below you. Hole 3 is a strong par 4 which is followed by a nice par three over water. There 5th is probably my favourite hole mainly because of the excellent green complex. Hole 10 is one of the few holes which makes you think off the tee as it requires a draw to hold the fairway which will leave a short iron to the green below you. The par 5 17th is a decent hole which again has a very good green complex. The Grove is always a decent day out as they know how to treat the guests and the condition of the course has always been excellent when I have played there. For me personally its not my favourite type of course but if you get an invite to play its worth a visit. Played October 2019.
I've played a number of rounds at the Grove over the years and have never been disappointed. You need to remember that this is Watford so the land isn't exactly spectacular. The architect, Kyle Philips, has done a wonderful job and there are many exciting holes, twists and turns and interesting green complexes.
The range and short game area are very good, with a large putting green outside the clubhouse/bar/hotel. It's a lovely setting altogether. Some of the holes are rather long so pick the right tees for your game. Taking a buggy makes it easy but I prefer to walk. Walking is fine but there are some longer walks between greens and tee boxes.
The conditioning of the fairways and greens has always been excellent and is a real trademark of the Grove. The turf can get a bit soggy but again this is not links land, but North London clay underneath.
There are some good deals in the summer (£99 twilight) rate and that's a fair price. I would not want to pay the full price often though.
Overall, for the proximity to central London and the location of the land, the Grove is a strong golf course.
Do yourself a favor, and go somewhere else. This was a bucket list course for me after visiting for the British Masters in 2016 - I was so underwhelmed by this place. Yes the staff are friendly, yes it all looks very nice - but in terms of value for money this is the worst place I have been. We played on a Sunday afternoon in August - Fairways had not been cut that day, greens were heaped in sand and had very bad scarification marks in both directions - it was like putting in a car park. at £196 or £99 for a twilight this just isn't good enough, especially when the Grove use words such as "immaculate" and "in championship condition - all year round" on their webiste. When courses are in a state of disrepair this should be reflected in the cost or pre-warn guests that this has happened recently. The head professionals response to our displeasure was he was 'sad' it hadn't lived up to our expectations, not to mention their pro shop has been shut for weeks, and they charge £6 for a sausage roll in the halfway house - 2 of these and 2 bottles of coke set me back £20. Go to Hadley Wood, Hanbury Manor, Woburn, and you'll get just as good a lay out for half the price - anywhere but here for what they charge - you will feel like I did - like you've been robbed!
The grove is a great course, a fair challenge that excites you to play. Condition is absolute perfection with no negatives, but what I was most impressed by was the service, I have been lucky enough to play and stay and from the moment you drive into the magnificent entrance you are welcomed as if you are good friends with all the staff, I have played numerous top class courses and I’ve never had the brilliant service that I had at the grove, staff are lovely, food although expensive is exquisite and the championship golf course is brilliant, after playing I could see why the course has hosted a number of major tournaments such as the 2015 British Masters and 2006 WGC event that Tiger Woods won in emphatic style. If you have the chance to play here please do because it is by far one of the best experiences I have had in the UK.
I had been extremely looking forward to playing the grove for quite some time as i had only heard good things about it. However i was slightly dissapointed with how it turned out to be. When i first got there, the course looked really good however it wasn’t as good as i thought. Although the tee boxes were some of the best i’ve ever played off the course in general was very average and i think this is down to it being a new golf course. The land really does not suit a golf course as i found a lot of very bland holes and none of them stood out at all. In addition to that i thought the fairways weren’t the best as they were left to grow a bit more than you would expect. What makes it unique is the club itself. As soon as we got there we were treated like royalty. All the staff were extremely friendly, we were given bags with our names engraved on them and filled with tees, ball markers, course guide etc. The staff even accompanied us to the range and cleaned our clubs for us making the experience extremely memorable. Although the course isn’t my favourite (mainly as i much prefer traditional older couses) it is kept in fantastic condition and has created history with the tournaments it has held. The friendly atmosphere makes it a memorable day out as well which is why i would make it 4 balls instead of 3.
One thing The Grove never disappoints on is its condition and standards of service, some of tee boxes are like greens! I played there on a warm sunny October afternoon, despite heavy rain the day before the course was in perfect condition with lush fairways and in spite of the hot and dry summer there was little evidence of any course damage. The course is set over some fairly mundane ground but keeps it interesting with rolling fairways and elevated green complexes, don’t expect a flat stance on too many shots. It’s pretty generous from the tee, the courses main defence being well designed greens and run off areas that will punish shots that land in the wrong place. I played from the silver tees (6,700 yards) which made most the par 4’s close to or more than 400 years, expect to be using long to mid irons for many of your approaches unless you're a really big hitter. The greens were fastest I’ve played all year and very true, a real pleasure to play on.
However having played it 4 times now there are very few holes that I remember, it’s also course designed around buggies and the path’s are far too close to the fairways in too many places, on a couple of couple holes slightly wayward approach will land on the path never to be seen again! Personally I don't think it offers great value for money, I’ve always played it on corporate days so not had to pay but I wouldn’t spend my own money when there are better courses for less nearby, overall worth playing if you get a deal or freebie or once to enjoy the great conditioning.