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.
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.
A really good golfing test but perhaps not as memorable as I expected - especially for the price.
The round starts off with what can only be described as a warm up par 4 which presents a very wide fairway requiring only a long iron and wedge to allow for an early confidence booster. But don't get too comfortable as the next 17 are challenging with plenty long par 4 holes requiring mid-long iron approach shots. The par 3 4th is a tough test with a stream protecting the front. The Par 4 10th is a lovely dogleg left which requires a confident tee shot between two beautiful trees to a fairway which opens up.
For the high price paid, you would expect an unforgettable experience, but quite frankly the course misses that special touch which would make it a top ranked course in my opinion.
There is always something special to play golf here. The course condition, the service and the design are first class. It's just fun on the course. The tees, fairways and greens to play is for every golfer a pleasure. the design may not be spectacular, but definitely varied and interesting. The course plays relatively easy, the rough was not too high and the greens are in great shape. Compared to Brocket Hall, the course is not quite as beautiful as the tree population is not that outstanding, but overall The Grove offers even higher levels. All in all, a special day of high enjoyable golf that should be finished in The stables and will be remembered for a long time to come.
I remain bemused by the high rating The Grove is awarded every year. It's a decent course - condition is always good and the service is exceptional (though you certainly pay for it - see later.) However the course isn't remotely exceptional and there are far more forgettable than memorable holes - in particular the par 5s are dull. I must have played the course half a dozen times and can't remember more than 2-3 holes, which tells you most of what you need to know.
Overall its a very nice society day out, but anyone interested in playing it would be advised to do so at someone else's expense as both the green fee and food/beverages are exorbitant.
Better courses and clubs in Hertfordshire include Moor Park, Ashridge and my own favourite Hadley Wood. If you took a poll of Hertfordshire golfers I'd be very surprised if the majority didn't rate these as the best three, though the ranking order is a matter of personal taste. If they get it back into decent condition, add the Palmerston at Brocket Hall to round out a top 4. And no, I haven't forgotten Centurian......
The whole experience of a round at The Grove is exceptional.
'New' golf courses are often frowned upon by golf reviewers, but this place is fantastic. The conditioning of the course is second to none, i doubt you will find better teeing grounds anywhere in the world, whilst the greens were also extremely true.
I played the course off the white tees which made it play as it should, meaning there werent par 5s at 440yds (as you find at many courses when you play off the yellows). a number of the holes stick out to me as exceptional, especially the par 3s which are all brilliantly bunkered.
I would argue that the 1st and 10th are amongst the weakest of the holes, but i suppose at least they bed you in gently.
Holes such as 3, 5 and 8 are very tough and require two great shots to leave yourself a birdie putt.
If given the opportunity to play here, take it. you are treated like a king from the moment you arrive, and the golf course is right up there with the best.
Of 'Newer' courses, i would rank this above both Bearwood Lakes and Remedy Oak of the ones i have played.