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.
The response here is to my own very old original review (12+ years ago) for the High course. I have been back a few times every year since then and the course remains to be a treat even after playing close to 100 times now. The reason for the note now is to say that there is a fantastic bunker program in place - none were in play when we were back there on 23rd December but without a doubt, these look good, very good in fact. Some may have questioned if the High is a real English Top 100 course but when these bunkers open in 2017, there will be no doubt at all - I would think that the comments in this coming year from members and visitors will support this thought of mine. Much improved...