Millbrook Golf ClubBedford, England
- AddressBedford MK45 2JB, UK
The sleepy little village of Millbrook lies in a lovely part of Bedfordshire, close to the historic market town of Ampthill, where it occupies a portion of an escarpment known as the Greensand Ridge. In this idyllic rural setting, it’s hard to imagine there’s such a lively and diverse range of outdoor activities going on in the local area.
Millbrook Proving Ground, one of the largest vehicle test facilities in Europe, is situated just outside the village, along with the Center Parcs Woburn Forest holiday centre, with the golf course positioned in between these two premises. However, due to the secluded woodland landscape, you’d hardly realise all three properties were near neighbours.
The course at Millbrook Golf Club was fashioned in the late 1970s by William Sutherland who updated James Braid's layout at Dunstanburgh Castle in the 1980s. Millbrook later changed its name to Lyshott Heath before reverting back to Millbrook when the club became member-owned in 2002, allowing revenues to be reinvested both on and off the course. This investment is reflected in the recently refurbished clubhouse lounge bar and the consistently good condition of tees, fairways and greens on the course.
Unusually, a round at Millbrook begins with back-to-back par fives and the first par three hole on the layout isn’t encountered until the 177-yard 7th, which plays to a green that slopes from front to back. Interestingly, the only fairway bunkers on the entire course are found on the 2nd, where a ditch crosses the fairway as it heads towards a shallow green.
The inward half plays to a par of 36 – two shots less than the front nine – with feature holes at the 420-yard 13th, a severe right doglegged par four that’s rated stroke index 2 and requires a testing uphill approach shot, and the 432-yard 18th, where out of bounds lies dangerously close to the right of (and beyond) the home green.
A number of county championships and inter-county matches have been held here, which is as good a measure as any of Millbrook’s quality. It’s location on the Greensand Ridge also enables golfers to play all year round and in all weather conditions, which is a major consideration nowadays for those seeking value for their annual club membership fees.
Professional Andrew Coleman was kind enough to contribute the following:
The stroke index is often your guide to how tough a hole will play however, here at The Millbrook, there are several difficult holes. I’d like to describe them as strong holes actually, where you are rewarded for playing good shots and par is a good score.
I'm highlighting our 2nd hole as a strong par five, measuring 593 yards from the Blue competition tees, 577 yards from the white tees and 556 yards from the yellows.
From the tee, generally playing into the wind, there’s plenty of driving space; just two small bunkers guard the right hand side. The fairway has a small rise guarding your view of a ditch that runs across the fairway which can catch you out for the second shot.
Avoiding the ditch, you play to a green guarded by bunkers left and right. The putting surface has only a few small breaks and this may well seem like a welcome relief after the previous 600 yards that you’ll have walked.
There are a number of contenders for the title of “signature hole” but I’m going to feature our 16th hole, a par three playing 165 yards from the Blue tees, 158 yards from the white tees and 152 yards from the yellows.
The tee sits on a high point, giving the best view of Bedfordshire overlooking the Millbrook Proving Ground. Further in the distance – and due to their enormous size – you will see the Cardington Hangers, famous for the Airships built there during the war.
Once you have returned your attention to the task in hand, you will see the pretty picture post card scene of the Millbrook Village Church, nestled in the trees – all in all, this hole provides a great memory coming towards the end of your round.
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Bedford & County