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.
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Date: November 18, 2020