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.
*Warning* The greens are quick. The course is set in a pleasant countryside in undulating land meaning flat lies are few and far between. The quality of this course however is the greens. They do not suit a nervy putter, but will test every ounce of your mental strength all the way through to the three tiered 18th hole. Be a tier too high at your peril as with a false front, it's very easy to degreen your putt!
The rest of the course is decent, worth a knock if you are local, but I wouldn't personally go seeking it out for a round.
Played this for the second time last night, very busy as large society out but in good condition and play moved along smoothly.
Impressive opening hole which - if it wasn’t downhill - would be a brutal start.
Unfortunately the front nine is flanked by the almost incessant trains heading north south which shatters the tranquility of what would otherwise be a very nice walk round. Despite this the course is good, we’ll maintained and has a good variety of holes, some of which are quite challenging and attractive.
The third is a good par 5 with plenty of jeopardy for a second shot attempt at the green. The longish par 3 4th is a good hole too,
For me the picks of the back nine (which is flanked by the noisy A1M - see earlier comments) are the par 3 fourteenth, and the 18th, the second of a five -five finish back up past what is apparently a Second World War bomb crater that you drive down over on the first and it has a fiendish split levels front to the green - having hit two shots up to right edge of fairway not far short and was left with a horrible shot up the levels to a flag perched at the front edge of the top level. No way it could fly there and stop (well Mickleson might be able to) so tried to bumble it up and only made the level below the flag, but always nice to roll one in up the hill for a birdie to make the beer taste better after !!
Well maintained course with good variety of holes. Cannot for the life of me see what a previous reviewer is on about when trying to evaluate the value for money….. for what it is where it is, there is nothing to complain about and I can’t imagine that it is not a good club to be a member of.
The back nine feels a lot longer than the front, although it isn’t much longer - maybe that was because it was second round in 2 days and no lunch !- doesn’t seem that long ago when 36 holes in a day carrying were then fine, sometime on consecutive days on a lads trip away !?
Looking forward to a third visit as the 11th so far has cost me 4 balls OB (despite me usually fading or slicing the ball and the poor attempts to stop each one by the row of trees left)…. Perhaps landing on a(n) impressive practice area is trying to tell me something.
Great club house, stop for food and drinks before the round. great course condition. worth the money for a twilight round.
Knebworth is a good course, better than most in the area, but still many courses better than it too. It's worth coming down to visit and play, I enjoyed my round here, green fees are a little steep if you not playing with a member, I know I wouldn't have said £44 is worth it. The member's rate of £27 was reasonable.
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.
I know a member here at Knebworth, so I’ve played the course many times over the years. It’s not your usual Hertfordshire parkland course due to the elevation changes and I think it could be a much better course if only the bunker sand consistency could be resolved. The 1st is a really tough opener and I’ve only managed to par this hole once with many bogeys being the norm. Despite Glaxo, I think the ground and the holes at the far end of the course are the most interesting but overall it’s a course that I’m always happy to play, especially in the spring and autumn when the ground is at its best. As the main article has already mentioned, the par threes are really good, even the two shorter ones (8 and 10). While the 1st may be the hardest hole due to the fact that it’s the 1st, I think the 9th is a really tricky par four where position off the tee is crucial. The closing hole is a brilliant par four and many of my approach shots have ended up down in the crater 80 yards or so short of the green. My bogey hole apart from the 1st is the 6th which is more about getting the tee shot through the narrow avenue of trees. Good course, great club, fabulous food – Knebworth is a real member’s club.