The course at Hadley Wood Golf Club is routed across an old deer park (known as Enfield Chase), which was the hunting ground of Henry V in the Middle Ages. The golf club was founded in 1922 and the Alister MacKenzie-designed course opened for play the same year.
Hadley Wood is one of MacKenzie’s earliest south of England designs and was laid out at a time when the Dr was in partnership with Harry Colt. Here in leafy North London, under the watchful gaze of the Russell Mansion (the historic Georgian clubhouse, built in 1781), you will find one of the finest examples of an authentic Alister MacKenzie design. Raised plateux greens (several multi-tiered), bold, strategic bunkering and, most importantly, a design that is engaging as well as challenging.
Laid out in two distinct loops, with a selection of solid two-shot holes, each hole differing in character, requiring shots utilising every club in the bag, Hadley Wood was perhaps the blueprint for MacKenzie’s thirteen “essential features” of an ideal golf course. With par set classically at 72 and measuring a healthy 6,517 yards from the back tees, it is no surprise that Hadley Wood was used for Open Championship Regional Qualifying between 2000 and 2005.
There are numerous notable holes, but one in particular is considered the Hadley Wood “signature” hole. The 10th is certainly the most photographed, but, ironically, it’s not a MacKenzie original. Nevertheless, we think the Dr would approve of this cracking 185-yard one-shot hole which requires a forced carry of some 100 yards across a lake where a ring of three cleverly placed bunkers lurk to the front and left of the green to catch the “bail-out” tee shot. One of our favourite holes is the 17th, another par three, which is ringed with MacKenzie bunkering. It stretches out to 169 yards from the back tees and the greensite is set on rising ground on the opposing side of a ditch.
We heartily recommend Hadley Wood to every golfer that is interested in studying Golden Age golf course architecture. We think Hadley Wood is the jewel in the crown of North London’s parkland golf courses.
Tom Doak made a point of playing Hadley Wood in 2016 and awarded the course a rating of five out of ten. He commented as follows in his Christmas 2017 Confidential Guide update:
“North of London but just inside the M25 ring road, the parkland Hadley Wood plays down and back up a couple of steep hills, with the watery short 10th in the fold at the bottom. The club has been slowly restoring MacKenzie’s bunkering, but the course would be far more attractive if they would remove a bunch of trees for better views to and from the beautiful clubhouse, built in 1781.”
Always tricky writing a review of the course you call home, inevitably your bias comes through and people roll their eyes… Equally, to truly understand a golf course you need to play it a lot so it works both ways.
Hadley is an Alister MacKenzie parkland that sits in a lush setting just east of Barnet. The strength of the course is undoubtedly its 18 greens, with classic multi-tier complexes and severe slopes akin to that of a lot of MacKenzies work. Equally significant is the land the course sits on - changes in elevation and banking across fairways like those found at Hadley are just not possible to create in modern architecture and holes such as the 11th, 13th & 18th are the best examples of this. The routing has changed somewhat during the courses history with it once being 27 holes and this is evident around the 3rd/4th and later around the 13th. These changes were made post war though and are mature and integrated with the course now.
If Hadley has a weakness it is the limited strategy required off the tee, something that has been eroded by the passing of time and by modern golf technology. But changes is coming, course renovations have begun this winter and in 3-5 years time Hadley Wood will represent a championship test from tee to green, all done by the safe hands of a Clyde Johnson, the man responsible for the renovations at Alwoodley and Woodhall Spa.
Like any parkland it struggles with drainage and those visiting should come in the summer if they want to see it at its well manicured best. Expect lush fairways and green undulations that will keep you honest!
My 4.5 ball may be generous but this rating by definition is “one of the best courses in the region warranting an overnight stop” - Hadley is certainly that…
If I could join any club in Herts it would be Hadley Wood. Simply outstanding. I've played this course in both summer & winter and it was in exactly the same condition both times, which is testament to the Greenkeepers. Its such a great test with tricky holes and its emphasis is based on accuracy rather than length. Can't wait to play it again - I love the view of the clubhouse as you walk up 18 after a really enjoyable round. Top drawer!
An amazing course and design. A true gem hidden so close to London. at £95 a round, its not cheap, but you will be blown away by the course. would highly recommend people try and play here.
Hertfordshire is arguably the Home of Parkland Golf, but I have to admit, although I liked Moor Park; Centurion and The Grove are not my type of courses. Wide, expansive and although immaculately looked after, a little soulless. So when I arrived at Hadley Wood, I wasn't sure what to expect.
When you arrive you are met by an impressive grand clubhouse, built in 1781 and a patio that allows you to take in groups playing the 11th green and teeing off on the 12th right in front of you. You are immediately struck by how immaculate the course is. Carpet greens and striped fairways. It's definitely worth having a drink or two in the sun beforehand.
The course opens up with four nice, but a little uninspiring holes, but comes alive from the 5th. The rolling undulations of the course, fabulous and bold bunkering and excellent multi tiered greens come into play and last throughout the round, making Hadley Wood a very fun place to play golf.
Like it's Hertfordshire neighbours, the fairways are wide open off the tee, but unlike The Grove & Centurion you need to positions your ball well to have the best shot into the green. The course is subtly tough. There is nothing subtle about the greens though. To score well here you need to find the right part of the green and putt well. You’ll be very lucky to walk away with no 3 putts on the card. It’s a cleverly designed course that can lull you into a false sense of security and driver is not always the best option and it’s definitely a course you want to take your medicine on.
There are a great set of Par 3s here, with the 7th, 10th and 17th being some of the most picturesque parkland one shotters you’ll find on these shores. Other notable holes for me are the Par 4 5th, the Par 4 12th with a nervy tee shot in front of the patio onlookers, but also with one of the best approach shots on the course and the fantastic sweeping dogleg right Par 5 13th, with a downhill approach.
This is a very fun place to play golf and I cannot talk more highly of how well it was maintained. A great place for a summer twilight round and one that I look forward to returning to.
For all photos of reviews, please follow Chris’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/top.100.golf/
I played Hadley Wood in January on a cold and wet day. The place is very nice with a lovely old fashioned clubhouse which overlooks the 11th and 18th holes. The place has a nice vibe about it and it’s clearly a lovely and friendly club to be a member of.
The course itself is a parkland course with lots of lovely tree lined holes. The condition for the time of year was pretty decent although the tees and fairways were quite boggy which was not a surprise considering the bucket loads of rain we’d had in the last couple days. However the greens were in good nick for the time of year and rolled fairly well. Some of their best holes included the par 3 7th which was a 140 yard elevated tee shot down to a narrow green guarded by many bunkers and water over the back. I also enjoyed 9, a risk and reward par 4 where longer hitters would be able to get close to the green (or at least the people I was playing with!) and a lovely view of the clubhouse from the green. 11 and 18 were both lovely par 4s which both played towards the clubhouse which makes it hard not to like! There were some blander holes including a few uninspiring par 3s and quite a lot of the par 4s do feel the same but all in all the course is quite nice and one of the better ones in hertfordshire in my opinion. I think the club is worthy of a trip in the summer when the weather is fairer and the leaves are on the trees, that’s the best way to play parkland golf! I would say it just about scrapes into a 4 ball rating, just. A good course and well respected.
"Follow the cut of the fairway." I experienced a Homer Simpson 'doh' moment as Hadley Wood's general manager David Jackson pointed out the glaringly obvious in response to my question of the line to follow off the tee. It is early in my pilgrimage of England's top 100 courses and the first time I had experienced a split fairway of dark and light green with the meeting point showing the ideal line of drives. Happily, they informed me well enough to enable some confident and rewarding hitting. However, there were no such easy answers for the McKenzie-designed multi-layered greens which left me utterly bamboozled until the final knockings of a chastening round.
Usually, when I play badly, it tends to reflect on my opinion of the course - not so in the case of Hadley Wood. I was rapt by its beauty from the moment I walked towards the first tee. Frankly, previous lukewarm reviews have left me baffled.
The fairways were in tip-top shape, the greens were immaculate albeit very tricky (I heartily recommend 20 minutes practising because I didn't!) and the environment is dazzling from every angle.
David told us of the many changes he has made since becoming the youngest club manager in the country seven years ago and demonstrated his eye for detail both on the majestic track and in its surrounds. The care he and his team have taken has resulted in a course which was a total pleasure to play on a June evening.
Didn't live up to the hype for me but well kept and nice location, for the money there is much better in the area.
Hadley Wood is a lovely parkland course with some great strategic holes that epitomise the best elements of parkland golf.
The stretch of holes 4-7 is where the course gets going. 4 is a good dogleg left with a heavily guarded green. 5 and 6 are great tree-lined holes And the short par 3 7th is brilliant. 9 is a great risk-reward short par 4 and 10 is a lovely par 3. There are also some solid holes on the back 9 but my favourites are the final two. 17 is a great par 3 (again, surrounded by bunkers) and 18 is a tough par 4 back up the hill to the magnificent clubhouse, dogleg to the right with bunkers left and trees blocking your view if you go right. Just hit it down the middle and you’ll be fine...
Despite being a lovely course, It pains me to say I was a little underwhelmed when I visited (In the height of Summer) as some of the fairways were In terrible condition. I know that happens occasionally but it is unfortunate when it happens to a course that is usually applauded for its condition at a time of year when other courses were in great shape. Despite this little blip (I was assured it was just a temporary issue), this is a great old fashioned course that is definitely worth visiting. A great day out on one of the country’s premier parkland courses.
Hertfordshire, the county with some great courses, oh and a lot of money!
Driving up to Hadley Wood you can definitely tell. The road the club is on boasts an impressive array of houses with big metal gates and posh cars. A great 'surrey style' start. Some of the houses view able on the course wouldn't be out of place in the nicest parts of Portugal.
The course itself was a bit of a let down to me. Playing in a soggy March, the fairways were actually incredible for the amount of rain they had recently had. However the layout of the course did disappoint me. It felt like a lot of the holes were lacking something. I would do well to remember most of the holes today. The par 3's were pretty good however and the greens also in good condition given the weather.
However weird it sounds, I judge a course on it's locker rooms and walking in it stunk! It's most peoples first impression on a golf course, and it's the first thing I could chalk down as a negative of the course. You expect to play London prices here and it's a lovely traditional clubhouse. But for me there are better courses in Hertfordshire that you would find lower down in the rankings which would easily contend to this for a top 100 spot. If you placed this course in the countryside somewhere, I genuinely think it would be overlooked as so many are.
Hadley wood, I don't really know how to rate this course.
I really enjoyed the round, the course condition is FANTASTIC, clubhouse is grand, history of the place is amazing, but I just felt like I should have expected more where it is ranked? Maybe I'm being harsh as I did genuinely like almost everything about it, but for some reason was a bit underwhelmed by the layout. Again, some fantastic holes, but was surprised at how high it's ranked maybe. I played Brocket hall the week before and I thought the layout at Brocket was far superior, although the condition of Hadley wood was better than brocket at the same time of the year.
CLUBHOUSE - 9 - very old and great heritage on the walls and boards
FACILITIES 8 -
TEE BOXES 9
GREEN CONDITION 9
GREEN SPEED fast!
BUNKERS - 9
LAYOUT - 7
VIEWS - 7
VALUE FOR MONEY - 7
OVERALL FEEL - 8.5
TIME OF THE YEAR PLAYED - SEPTEMBER
FAVOURITE HOLE - 5th hole
To introduce myself, my name is Rob Anderson and I am currently course chairman, so take a keen interest in reviews and feedback. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to compose such a thoughtful and detailed review.
I am delighted you enjoyed the general conditioning and presentation of the course, and particularly our greens, which are really the signature test of our golf course.
Interested in your thoughts on layout. HW is generally reckoned to be an excellent example of Alister MacKenzie design, and lovers of MacKenzie courses often travel some distance to play it. This said beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder concerning golf courses.
On layout (and also on views) we have extensive plans for the long term development of the course, and if you would be interested in hearing what we are planning I'd be more than happy to share with you next time you are passing.
Best wishes and happy golfing!