Harewood Downs - Buckinghamshire - England

Harewood Downs Golf Club,
Cokes Lane,
Chalfont St Giles,
nr. Amersham,
HP8 4TA,

  • +44 (0) 1494 762184

Situated twenty-six miles northwest from the Palace of Westminster, outside the small market town of Amersham, Harewood Downs Golf Club dates back to 1907, two years after J.H. Taylor and Horace Hutchinson were first engaged to set out a course for a membership consisting largely of politicians from the House of Commons and lawyers from the Bar Council in London.

The layout was officially opened on 22nd June 1908 with a 36-hole exhibition match between course architect Taylor and another multiple Open Championship winner, Harry Vardon. Taylor had a score of 74 in the morning to his opponent’s 80, then he shot a 75 to Vardon’s 73 in the afternoon, winning the game 4 & 3 overall.

Within five years of its formation as a private golfing retreat, Harewood Downs was the home club of two Prime Ministers, seventeen Lords, nine Barons and Knights, a couple of Generals and a variety of parliamentarians. In 1972, a shake-up in the shares structure allowed the club to become fully owned by its members for the first time.

A club publication entitled Harewood Downs Golf Club: The Early Years by Malcolm Barker reveals that the original course was altered only one year after it was laid out, brought about by the acquisition of additional land. As the author states: “This redesigned course was very much as we know it today but with the 1st and 10th starting holes reversed.”

Further changes were made in later years. James Braid visited in 1928 and made many recommendations on changes to tees, bunkers and greens but the club decided to alter only ten holes. Cecil Hutchison then submitted a report on proposed modifications to three holes in 1937 and this work was carried out in full by the club.

Set out across undulating terrain on the south-facing side of the Misbourne Valley, this 18-hole track offers lovely views of the rolling Chiltern Hills from just about every hole. Extending to just over 6,000 yards from the back markers and playing to a par of 69, the course is modest in length but a standard scratch score rating of 70 indicates it’s no pushover.

Highlight holes include the short par four 4th, played from a left-to-right sloping fairway to the green, and this relatively benign hole is followed by three demanding par fours in succession, rated stroke index 3, 7 and 1. The front nine then concludes with an uphill, 405-yard par four where only the longest of drivers can see the pin as they play their approach.

On the inward half, the long par three signature 12th hole requires an all-carry tee shot over a gulley to a green bordered at the rear by out of bounds. The 410-yard 16th is another strong hole, doglegging right to a raised green which slopes back-to-front, and the round ends in fine style at the 18th on a home green that does its best to confound with subtle slopes and borrows.

The club carried out a major bunker improvement program under the guidance of the renowned architects Mackenzie and Ebert during the autumn and winter of 2018 and this work involved reducing bunker numbers and moving bunkers more into play for the better golfers, toughening the test for these players while making things a little easier for others.

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Description: Within five years of its formation in 1907 as a private golfing retreat, Harewood Downs Golf Club was the home club of two Prime Ministers, seventeen Lords, nine Barons and Knights, a couple of Generals and a variety of parliamentarians. Rating: 7 out of 10 Reviews: 1

Four years between playing visits at Harewood Downs and we now have a seriously up-graded golf course. In the last year there has been significant bunker work carried out by the team at Mackenzie and Ebert – this company really know what they are doing. The bunkers here at Harewood should be the envy of many clubs and for me, there are many courses with bigger reputations and ranking status with an inferior set of sand hazards. Every hole now is defined and protected in a way that will get the wow factor for those seeing them for the first time and equally by the members who will not tire of the impressive job done.

The course has some very strong holes and obviously due to the land, there are many holes up and downhill but as mentioned, now look very strong indeed. The par-5 2nd is worth a mention, a slight dogleg to the right from the tee and then uphill to well protected green. The very next hole at only 148 yards is a perfect example of how this new bunkering can improve an existing hole; hazards at the front and to the left are perfectly placed, so the tip is to aim at the right of the green to stay safe!

The only routing observation worth a mention is that after playing the par-3 8th hole you need to walk back up the hill to get to the 9th tee – members tip here is play the 8th tee shot, then play the 9th tee shot before holing out on the 8th (obviously not in competition) but saves a tough walk and about ten minutes – two tee shots on different holes consecutively – not normal but well worth it.

The back-9 is a little shorter than the front as there are three par-3’s (2 on the front) but what I do like about the five short holes on the course is the variation in their length; 118 yards-201 yards, which gives great variety.

The final hole is now so much better than when I saw it last – the bunker that now eats in to the fairway from the left at driving distance is a great way to give the hole character as the sensible play is to treat this as a small dogleg rather than the straighter previous version.

Very happy to play here again and also to recommend the course to anyone yet to see the changes – very impressive indeed – NB lots of good stuff going on in the clubhouse too with a number of building upgrades too.

May 31, 2019
7 / 10
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