Located conveniently near to London, but sufficiently protected by mature trees to shield us from suburbia, Moor Park Golf Club's elegant High course layout will provide a challenging test of golf in pleasant park surroundings.
The clubhouse at Moor Park is an elegant 17th century mansion, the most photographed clubhouse in golf, perhaps with the exception of the R&A clubhouse at St Andrews. It has been used for many purposes throughout its illustrious history: home to the gentry, religious hierarchy and requisitioned as the HQ for the Parachute Regiment during the 2nd World War. It was here that the doomed battle of Arnhem was planned.
Moor Park also made it into the Guinness Book of Golf Facts and Feats as the club with highest membership in England (1,600).
“It is park golf with a dash of something else, wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1925 book, The Golf Courses of Great Britain, “for in the middle of the round, close to a fine clump of beeches, there is a strip of bracken country. It is here that the best and most amusing holes are to be found, and Mr. Colt has used every available inch of it.”
The Bob Hope Classic was held here during the 1980s, along with many other professional tournaments. The club has also staged a number of blue-ribbon junior events, including the Boys Amateur Championship and the English Boys’ Stroke Play Championship, formerly the Carris Trophy.
“They do say you remember a golf course with special affection if you’ve played it well,” wrote Peter Alliss in The Good Golf Guide, “and that’s certainly one of the reasons for my liking Moor Park. In the 1964 Esso Golden Tournament I played the best golf of my life. I hit the ball well throughout, hardly missed a short putt and holed not a few long ones as well. It was a round robin matchplay event with a selected field. You played everybody. I won all my matches except for a half with Ken Nagle and a loss to Christy O’Connor, who both finished with birdie 2s.”
There are some very good holes on the 6,700-yard layout, opening with a friendly par four. The 2nd is a good driving hole, requiring a solid tee shot across a valley to a fairway that doglegs to the right. The 4th is a long downhill par four, two accurate shots are required to reach this green in two. The 8th, 440 yards, is one of our favourites, sweeping downhill and then back uphill to a sloping green protected by a lurking pond with the half-way house sitting welcomingly behind the green.
The homeward nine is really more of the same, some strong and long par fours with a couple of short and reachable par fives. If anything, the back nine is more memorable and certainly a much tougher proposition than the outward nine. Two troublesome holes are the par three 12th (one of the best inland par threes in the country) requiring a bold tee shot over a valley and the 14th, a fantastic long par four where the approach shot must carry a hidden gully dissecting the fairway.
Moor Park oozes quality. The High is a classy golf course and a warm welcome awaits in the clubhouse mansion, but don't overlook the club's Harry Colt-designed West course. It may be rather short, but it's lots of fun and it's not as easy as it appears on the scorecard.
In a county with several top-end parkland courses Moor Park is certainly very close to the summit when it comes to discussing the best of them. Played over some lovely rolling and firm terrain the routing is particularly pleasing as it leads us around the mature property but it is the set of short holes and the excellent contouring of the greens which endeared me most to this well respected venue that has hosted professional tournaments in the past and continues to stage the annual amateur Hertfordshire Stag.
The first three holes really grab our attention early doors; a gentle but tricky par-four to a narrow green opens the proceedings before a fantastic sliding tee-shot at the next followed by a wonderful par-three; the first of four good ones.
Admittedly, there’s not a great deal to report on the fourth, fifth and sixth but things start to get going again from the seventh as we embark on an excellent run of holes. The falling green at the seventh makes judging your approach shot difficult whilst the eighth is arguably the best hole on the course with a descending and turning drive before playing slightly uphill to a fantastically contoured green under the gaze of the (almost) halfway house.
The little triangle of holes between 10 and 12 is a particularly fun and challenging section of the course too and where the land is at its most undulating. There are two short holes amongst this trio with the delicate 10th well protected by bunkers and the epic 12th across a deep wooded valley to a two-tiered green also guarded by sand. The meat in the sandwich is the ‘down and up’ 393-yard 11th which if not a great hole can cause no end of problems in terms of lie and stance.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
A truly lovely place to be, with a superb club house, grass tennis courts and the beautiful grounds giving you the expectation of Jay Gatsby or one of PG Wodehouse's characters hoving into view in a cricket sweater and a pencil bag slung over the shoulder.
Very challenging course with friendly members leaving very pleasant members - can't wait to go back !
As others have noted, the star of the area rather than The Grove.
To hijack this slightly (sorry Ed), if in the area (my own birthplace) I would also strongly recommend playing West Herts outside Watford ("Cassiobury Park") which is a traditional sporty heathland style course, great fun. Since it isn't open for comments I will quote Bernard Darwin "Of all the race of park courses, it would scarcely be possible in point of sheer beauty to beat Cassiobury Park".
This course and club gets better each time I visit. The set up and conditioning are fabulous and there is a great old world feel - whilst at the same time a clear focus on keeping the course updated and pristine. The High is a real test and you need to be straight and long particularly on the par 4's to help break the back of the subtle and very pacy greens.
If you have not played and are in the Herts area you are missing a trick. Its stands out relative to overly stated neighbours like the Grove etc