Huntercombe - Oxfordshire - England

Huntercombe Golf Club,
Nuffield,
Henley-on-Thames,
Oxon,
RG9 5SL,
England


  • +44 (0) 1491 641207

Huntercombe, along with Willie Park Junior's other groundbreaking masterpiece, Sunningdale, opened in 1901 and sparked a revolution in inland golf design. Walter Travis commented “I consider that Huntercombe is easily the best laid course that I have ever played over anywhere”. Harold Hilton agreed, “in links architecture his two great creations have been Sunningdale and Huntercombe and of the two I am distinctly inclined to look upon Huntercombe as the greater effort of the two”.

Bernard Darwin was greatly impressed with the course and wrote: “Although Huntercombe is still a comparatively young course, there is an agreeable quality about the golf that, for want of better word, may be called, very respectfully, old-fashioned. Exactly how this impression is produced upon the mind is hard to say. Perhaps it is that some of the approach shots have to played over cross-hazards, although those are not constructed after the old rampart pattern; perhaps it is that there are no deep and desperate pot-bunkers dug very close to the holes, or it may be the abundance of the whins, which somehow remind one of the unsophisticated golf upon the common. At any rate, the golf of Huntercombe has a very engaging character of its own; it is good without being too strenuous for the reasonably light-hearted player. Yet this cheerful person must not imagine the disaster cannot overtake him.”

Like most heathland courses, trees have invaded what would originally have been open land, though Park would certainly recognize much of his handiwork if he were to walk the course today. As one would expect from an older course, which has had few revisions, Huntercombe is on the short side at approximately 6,300 yards. The course stands nearly 700 feet above sea level, one of the highest points in the Chilterns and it is easy to imagine how wind would have played a significant role in stiffening the challenge. The few bunkers employed have in the main been placed to offer the golfer a choice of playing heroically or safely. As an alternative to bunkering, Park dug many hollows throughout the course which greatly effect the decision making of golfers. Not unusually, a road, The Ridgeway, one of the oldest roadways in Europe, divides the course. Unfortunately, the increase in traffic these recent years has precipitated the club to recently alter the 6th by planting trees down the right and filling in one of the hollows on the left side of the fairway.

Despite the great success of the course, due to financial difficulties caused by the failure of the planned real estate development, Park lost a substantial amount of money. However, high profile work continued to come Park’s way. His talents were further utilized for many more marquee designs; amongst which were Notts, Formby and Worplesdon. Ironically, the early financial difficulties Huntercombe suffered may be the very reason that the course is for the most part preserved. Unlike Sunningdale, Huntercombe is just far enough removed from London to have effectively become an historical footnote in golf architecture. Huntercombe fails to make any modern best of lists. Even Tom Doak didn’t visit while researching architecture for the launch of his career and subsequently, Huntercombe does not earn a mention in the first edition of the Confidential Guide. More is the pity because Huntercombe exemplifies concepts which were previously the domain of links golf. Variety, use of natural landforms and strategic merit are features which made the course justly famous over 100 years ago and continue to satisfy members and visitors alike today.

Article by Sean Arble

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Reviews for Huntercombe

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Description: Huntercombe Golf Club is just far enough removed from London to have effectively become an historical footnote in golf architecture. Rating: 7.3 out of 10 Reviews: 15
TaylorMade
David Baxter

Huntercombe is like going back in time, a traditional natural course largely unchanged where you can stroll round in 3 hours. Course condition was very good; although winter rules were on we had no need as the fairways were that good. The greens were definitely the feature of the course with fantastic shapes and contours, and of good pace and in excellent condition; as good as any I have played this year and it's November. Loved the natural features, with the hollows and humps and isolated gorse bushes. After the first couple of holes the course seemed pretty flat and without much elevational change there did seem to be a lack of variety of holes (although all holes were solid enough and certainly not poor). My personal favourite was the dog-leg par 4 5th, and the 18th up to the clubhouse was a nice finish. All greens were interesting with the big step in nr 8 and general surrounds to nr 17 of particular note. Maybe not demanding enough to improve all aspects of your game, however a delightful place for a friendly game of golf with excellent greens. Nearly a 5 ball but not quite. Definitely worth the visit

November 03, 2016
6 / 10
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Tim Stockil
Huntercombe is indeed old-fashioned. I wouldn't want to be an "artisan" seeking entrance to the members' club house, for example, and woe betide you if you wear shorts with short socks. That aside, the course is old-fashioned in the best sense. The first is a short par three which involves popping your ball over a large gorse patch, which is surprisingly unnerving! Many of the deep grassy dips which dot the fairways have now got gorse bushes in them, so they are to be avoided like the plague. There are a few two tier greens, one of which is very extreme - if the hole is on the top tier and your ball is on the bottom one, judging the whack you have to give it just to climb the mountain in front of you requires considerable judgement. And the greens are pretty quick, even in early Spring which is when I have played it. Being on the top tier and having to putt down to the lower one is a tough ask too.Above all, I think you would call the course charming rather than demanding. It is not very long and it is pretty flat and many of the fairways are quite generous. But one time I played it the wind was blowing and that made it a much sterner test. On the charming front - twice when I have played it, there have been a couple of members out in front of me with their dog, an old Labrador, trotting along beside them, lying down patiently when waiting for them to play and then heaving himself to his feet to trot off again. I didn't notice any dog poo, so they must have cleaned up properly!
April 13, 2010
6 / 10
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Martyn Rees
Stumbled across this course when most others were closed due to bad weather. Phoned on route while heading south, we were told to turn up whenever. Th pro was very welcoming mentioned they were quiet so to enjoy a coffee before we went out.Friendly staff in the club house happily looked after us.Got on the 1st tee two members arrived behind us we offered to let them tee off 1st but they told us to carry on.The course was in superb condition, even more so considering the general weather conditions.One of the most enjoyable rounds I have had.Will be booking another round with my mates again so we can enjoy it in the summer. The only critisism I would have is that they do not allow fourballs out.
November 04, 2009
10 / 10
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Harrison Brown
January 07, 2013
Having no 4 balls is a positive, this is a match play golf club, the best type of golf. If you've never played foursomes match play you are missing out on one of the best formats in golf. And plus you can play 36 in a day in less than 7 hours with a lunch break in between, try doing that at the so called new super courses, The Oxfordshire, Celtic 2010, The Players Club (joke course) etc
Hugh
If it’s charm you‘re looking for then Huntercombe will tick the box. For those interested in architecture there’s much to learn from the tricky and treacherous greens, which have always been fast when I’ve played here. This is one of England’s olde worlde classics and won’t suit all golfers, as museums do not thrill everyone. Take your fastest golf shoes to Huntercombe as the members fly round and seemingly can’t wait on the course for too long as they are afraid their red wine might go off. Sub three hour rounds for a two-ball are commonplace. I’m personally a fan of the course but a number of people I know think it is a bit mundane with few standout holes. I think the par threes are excellent but the greens are simply sublime.
September 23, 2009
8 / 10
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Carl Tushingham
Played here back in Feb and the course was in fantastic condition. Great greens which are very hard to read. Lots of gorse around here and many undulations in the fairways. A good test of golf.
June 02, 2008
6 / 10
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