|Cuthbert Butchart laid out the course at Highgate Golf Club; six years later he went on to design West Hill. The secret Highgate lies hidden in parkland on the northern side of Hampstead Heath. Play it and tell nobody.|
The course at Highgate, North London is not that well known outside of the area. It is a fantastic club with a decent course and one that visitors should seek out to play. For those non-locals, this area is a very affluent part of London and also in a fairly congested golf course location - plenty of courses in Middlesex and around the south of Hertfordshire are not that far away at all.
There is plenty to like about Highgate; presentation of this parkland course is really good; Derek Mason and his green-keeping team certainly love the course. The course by any standards let alone modern ones, is not on a lot of land – under 90 acres for 18 holes could not and would not be allowed to be built today. If length is what you want in a course, then Highgate is not going to deliver – 6015 yards at it’s maximum. If charm, quality of greens and tees, a great club atmosphere, and strong club beliefs are important, then here is your club/course.
Highgate starts with some short par-4s; 284 yards at the first and 335 yards at the second – so a good scoring start is not a major challenge. The third hole is strong; 376 yards to a left to right fairway and then an approach across the valley. At 117 yards the fourth is the shortest hole and very pretty. The stroke index #1 hole comes at the sixth and rightly so, this is a big par-4 at 462 yards but the bunkering needs to be a lot sharper – there are some that are misplaced and a little weak. I think we have to remember that poor bunkering (position and quality) is a big no no and all clubs need to have this high on their priority list.
Playing the par-4’s at the 9th and 10th are unique as they play above, yes above the hidden Metropolitan Water Board reservoir that has been there for nearly 100 years serving London – when you first see these holes you can be forgiven for thinking they look a little odd but once you understand that there is valid reason, then all is well.
With the space restrictions on the course there is not a real practice area, so the position between the par-4s at the 13th and 14th is used for hitting a few balls and whilst understandable, really is not that great.
The next two holes are the longest and strongest of the par-4’s – the 15th is 440 yards and uphill to the green and the 16th at 468 yards – a small suggestion would be to make one of these a par-5 – two reasons; the percentage of golfers reaching either hole in two shots is very very low and also as there only one par-5 on the course – just would help with the balance I think.
Lots to enjoy about Highgate and one of the better courses in the area.
Great course - and as was stated in a recent review in Golf Monthly magazine....."few courses live up to being such a hidden gem as Highgate..." Although overall quite short, there are 4 par 4s over 450 yards that will have even very long hitters reaching for their 3 irons for their second shots (and coming up short), so you won't leave feeling like you've been playing an easy course. Each hole is full of character with many mature trees, and many changes of elevation and if you're not straight and steady off the tee, you'll be in deep trouble. An easy, wide Disneyland resort-style course like The Shire this certainly is not, you need to think your way around here, and often where to miss is the best option unless you've got complete control of your game since the fairways can be tight and the greens small. The members and staff are the most friendly we've ever come across, despite this being a posh private member's club course with very posh members, that apparently includes all sort of public figures and celebrities.