Trying to unravel true architectural provenance for golf courses laid out almost one hundred years ago is extremely difficult. But, let’s be honest, most golfers couldn’t care less about designers. However, some (like me) appreciate little nuggets of information, even if they can’t tell the difference between designs by John, Mick or Harry.
According to the club history, in 1929 Harry Colt laid out the Old course at Leckford and Longstock Golf Club (as it was originally called), but according to Fred W Hawtree, author of Colt & Co, the Old course is a 1929 John Morrison original. In The Architects of Golf by Geoff Cornish & Ron Whitten, the authors reckon it’s a Colt & Morrison creation that was later revised by Michael G. Fenn, who was the club’s first Secretary and Greenkeeper. Who’d be a historian eh, and what does it matter?
I played the Old course a couple of weeks before the UK covid-19 lockdown, directly after the wettest winter on record and biblical rain the day before, which incidentally closed virtually every course in southeast England. Leckford was bone dry and looking gorgeous in the late afternoon sunshine. Rain, what rain?
Providing a fair rating after just one play is never ideal, but most belt notchers don’t get the chance to play every course multiple times. My feeling from a single play is that I’d love to be a member at Leckford if I lived nearby. The club is unpretentious, has an unassuming clubhouse and a rudimentary car park on high ground overlooking the 9th green. It’s right up my alley.
Rather like Mildenhall, the fun at Leckford is around the greens. Each and every one has interest with lovely contours and vexing run offs. But the visuals from some tees are uninspiring. Don’t get me wrong, this is a pleasant place to play golf and the ground game is 100% alive and well here, but some of the fairways are a bit too minimalist for my taste.
The course might benefit from the repositioning of some fairway bunkers. A few are not in play these days, but if they were in play (as Colt & Co originally intended) the visuals from the tee would be heightened. One thing is for sure; Leckford Old is not trying to be something that it isn’t. It’s largely a lie of the land course with stellar green complexes and it’s around these dance floors where golfers will spend most of their time. And for that reason alone I’d be happy to invest many hours trying to master these wonderful putting surfaces.
There’s a parallel between Leckford and RW&N… nine holes, Colt provenance and wonderful greens, but there’s not quite enough going on between tee and green for waxing too lyrically. There are a good number of highlights though, the two par threes, the drive on #4, the approach to #7 and the 8th tee to green (especially to the green). Undoubtedly this little 9-holer deserves to be sought out, and when golf is this much fun, it really doesn’t matter whether it was designed by John, Mick or Harry.
Date: May 26, 2020