Many travelling golfers will reach Knebworth from the A1M, leaving the motorway at junction 7. This road separates the golf club from Knebworth House where Led Zeppelin reputedly performed to crowds in excess of 200,000 in the 1970s. The clubhouse at Knebworth Golf Club is modest compared to its stately neighbour but it’s set on high ground from where there are lovely northerly views across the underrated parkland course.
Two-time Open Champion, Willie Park Junior, originally designed the 6,492-yard par 71 course at Knebworth Golf Club, which opened for play in 1908. Fred W. Hawtree made a number of changes to the layout in the 1950s due to the construction of the A1M motorway.
Those that think Hertfordshire is a flat county have never played Knebworth. Here the topography is compelling, plunging up and down across pretty valleys and through mature woodland and there’s no finer example than the brutal opening hole.
The 1st tee is set in the trees… in fact the back tee is virtually in the car park. If you can survive this tough 462-yard par four then you’re in with a fighting chance of carding a decent score. The elevated tee provides a daunting view of the fairway that incorporates a wide and deep valley separating the tee boxes from the distant green. Many drives will end up on the valley bottom, from where the approach is blind or semi-blind to a back to front sloping, multi-tiered green, protected not only by distance but also by bunkers left and right. Any golfer that marks a four on their card on this hole should feel very proud.
If you are too far right off the 2nd tee, the London to Edinburgh East Coast Main Line railway will be in play on this par four. The railway is only slightly threatening on the par five 3rd which is placed into perspective by the pharmaceutical R&D facility of GlaxoSmithKline. You turn your back on the GSK giant on the tee of the 199-yard 4th, which is first in the quartet of Knebworth’s engaging and memorable one-shot holes.
Sunningdale (Old) and Huntercombe are considered by some to be the two best examples of Willie Park Junior’s English designs. However, the man from Musselburgh has left a lasting legacy of wonderful golf courses all over the world and while Knebworth may not be one of Park’s better-known designs, it really does warrant close inspection by any student of Golden Age golf course architecture.
Played here on a beutiful sunny but windy evening this week. A wonderful course with varied holes and good greens. The elevation changes gives the fairways a special character and make the holes look longer than they realy are. It's simply fun to play this Willie Park Jr. classic. Highly recommended in any case.