Herefordshire Golf Club started out at Broomy Hill in 1896, relocating to Holmer on a seven-year lease in 1911. After twice renewing the rental period on the property, the club considered the prospect of moving to pastures new at the start of the 1930s, calling in James Braid for his opinion on a new property.
Authors John F. Moreton and Iain Cumming continue the story in this edited extract from their book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses: “Three sites were considered for a new course: the Holme Lacy Estate, of which the County Council were the custodians, Holmer and Wormsley, where 150 acres were available.
Expert advice was needed and in [May] 1931 James Braid was consulted. He rejected Holmer because of the heavy soils and recommended the site at Wormsley, also known as Raven’s Causeway, his reason being that it would cost far less to build a course there than at Holme Lacy.
The club’s AGM authorised acceptance but financial problems caused delay. The owner of the land, Captain T.R. Hinckes, decided to build a course himself and employed C.K. Hutchison, Braid’s collaborator at Gleneagles, Guy Campbell and S.V. Hotchkin, the owner and developer of Woodhall Spa.
They created a beautiful golf course which still today is unspoilt, with panoramic views of the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains dominating the horizon. Braid’s choice was impeccable, what a shame he was not invited to design the layout.”
The Herefordshire was put up for sale in May 2020 with an asking price of between £1 million and £1.25 million, following an EGM of the membership to approve a proposed sale/conversion to proprietary control. Five months later, it was announced a consortium of three local businessmen had purchased the club, with big plans to invest in the facilities.
A well designed parkland course with a huge variety of holes, The Herefordshire is set in the middle of tranquil and beautiful countryside. Some of the surrounding views are so good, you just feel very lucky to be playing golf in such a location. The individual holes have been well summed up by a previous reviewer and my favourites were the 5th a sporting short par 4, the 11th a scenic par 4 from a raised tee and the rollercoaster par 5 at 14 which at 534 yards is the longest hole. The finishing two holes although not long require good accuracy from the tee, if a good card is not to be ruined.
The one aspect which lets the golf course down is that the underlying soil is clay or very similar, with the result that drainage can become a real problem. The grass is lush and very green, but we played during a particularly wet autumn and were smattered with mud long before the end. We decided to play preferred lies even from the light rough because the golf ball quickly got covered in cloying mud. I was told that in summer time when it is dry, conditions are near perfect and I would like to return and play at that time. But in the meantime I have marked a worthy 4 ball rating down to 3 and a half, because whenever conditions are so heavy underfoot, it does make playing the game hard work.
The Herefordshire is set in the middle of the countryside and is a beautiful spot and the course itself makes use of the natural contours. Flat it is not and when you stand back on the 8th fairway and look back across to the clubhouse on the far side of the hill you realise the extent of the walk, but in truth the design of the course seemingly gets you there without too many steep climbs. Very different to Kington, more parkland in style with trees, valleys and slopes defining some of the holes. The grass always seems greener here, and in truth I have played here in all sorts of weather (it does seem to rain a lot !) and the course does flood quite easily.
A very traditional course, there is a great variety of holes, some quirky which all adds to the fun. There are blind tee shots (including at 2 and 3), short birdeable par 4's (at 4 and 10), tricky par 3's (5 and 7), long uphill par 4's (6 and 8), dog-legs (including 3 and 9), steep downhill tee shot at 11, a tight narrow hole at 12 (with a shot uphill to a plateau green), a couple of par 5's (the 14th steeply downhill at the end, and 16 narrow and uphill all the way), a par 3 over water at 15, a very tricky green at 17 and a bit of a quirky finish at 18. Most enjoyable, every hole different and well worth playing if in the area.