Situated in Bushley Heath, the golf course at Hartsbourne Country Club dates back to the early 1920s, when the design partnership of F.G. Hawtree and J.H. Taylor laid out twenty-seven holes for Hartsbourne Manor Golf Club.
The RAF commandeered the clubhouse during World War II to house officers stationed at nearby Bentley Priory, the headquarters for Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. After the war ended, the club didn’t reappear.
Instead, C.J. Stllitz, the Polish-born business man who founded the Gor-Ray ladieswear company, purchased the club in 1946 and renamed it Hartsbourne Country Club. Soon after, Stillitz took over sponsorship of the PGA Assistants’ Championship.
The event was then held here from 1951 to 1966 under the title of the Gor-Ray Cup, with winners such as Peter Alliss, Dave Thomas and Neil Coles. A young Tony Jacklin also claimed his second professional victory in this tournament in 1965.
Situated on the county boundary between Hertfordshire and Middlesex, the fairways at Hartsbourne are set within 180 acres of mature parkland, with mildly undulating, tree-lined holes radiating out from the wonderful old clubhouse.
The main 18-hole layout is called the Willows, measuring 6,313 yards from the back markers and playing to a par of 71. Water comes into play on several holes in the form of ditches and brooks but the main hazards to avoid are the well-placed bunkers.
The par four 3rd, rated stroke index 1, is a feature hole on the course, doglegging severely left then slightly uphill to a green that slopes markedly from back to front. Short par fours at the 294-yard 6th and 256-yard 10th both present enticing birdie opportunities.
Back-to-back par threes at the 14th and 15th are two of the highlight holes on the homeward nine, with the second of these short holes regarded as the signature hole on the card, playing to a two-tiered green surrounded by no fewer than eight deep bunkers.
Although golf is the club's main activity, members also benefit from outdoor facilities like the heated swimming pool and a tennis court. Indoors, there are two full-sized snooker tables, a couple of table tennis tables and three spacious bridge rooms.
Played here several times with a couple of friends - both of whom have been members for around 2 years. A pleasant course which is always well presented. The first hole is an inviting, gentle par 5 played from an elevated tee and the first 3 holes all wrap around the back of the small driving range. It feels a little bit short on space at this point in the round, but that improves once you get to the 7th hole. Another inviting par 5 not too dissimilar to the first, it is played from an elevated tee along a sweeping right to left dogleg. The back 9 is more favourable than the front half and the par 3 15th is definitely the standout hole here for me. It's a gorgeous looking hole played to a green 20 yards below you, surrounded by deep bunkers, with a very tricky green complex. All in all, it is a fun course. A couple of driveable par 4's (6 and 10) provide the opportunity to score and they are risk reward in nature. The par 3s are all strong holes and generally speaking the course has been in excellent condition when I have been. A few bland par 4s that are pretty indistinguishable from one another hold the course back, but at £30 for a guest rate it represents half decent value for money compared with several courses in the county, and in my opinion fares far better than a course such as Essendon.