North Hants Golf Club is located at Fleet on the western edge of the glorious sand belt, which cuts through Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire. This delightful heathland course is set enchantingly amongst stately pines and silver birch trees and, naturally, heather and gorse abound.
The club was originally founded in 1904 and James Braid, the designer, described the course as, "most sporting and interesting". But the plans were ambitious: North Hants was to be more than just a golf club. This was one of the first projects to create an American-styled country club and the clubhouse provided excellent facilities, while high quality tennis courts and croquet lawns attracted Hampshire's high society.
In 1913, the course was re-shaped by Harry Colt for the princely sum of £25 and in the 1930s, Tom Simpson made further modifications. Sadly, the tennis and croquet sections of the North Hants Club did not survive the Second World War and the land formerly used for these sports was transformed into one of the country's first golf practice grounds.
Following Donald Steel's modifications to three holes in 2001, today's course now measures 6,472 yards. Although it's not the longest course, it does represent is a real challenge. Accuracy from the tee is an essential ingredient because most holes are set between avenues of trees and you'll need to find the correct part of the fairway to attack the generous but well-protected greens with your approach shot.
North Hants was used for Final Qualifying for the 2004 Women's British Open and the club also stages an annual amateur competition called the Hampshire Hog. Michael Bonallack won the inaugural 1957 event, but failed to defend his title the following year. 22 years later, in 1979, Bonallack returned to reclaim the title. Sandy Lyle and Gordon Brand Jnr. have also emerged as subsequent "Hog" winners.
Undoubtedly, North Hants has a fascinating history but it would be remiss of us not to mention the club's most famous son - Justin Rose. In 1995, at the tender age of fourteen, Rose won the Hampshire Hog with a record score of 134. When he turned professional in 1998, Rose was still a North Hants junior member and now, he's an Honorary Member. No doubt each and every club member follows his progress with great interest.
North Hants, home of the elite amateur Hampshire Hog golf tournament, is one of the several ‘second tier’ courses situated on the notorious sandbelt to the South-West of London.
This is the most westerly of them all lying in Hampshire and to say that it plays second fiddle to some of its illustrious neighbours, whilst undoubtedly true, is doing it a little bit of a disservice in a literary sense because there is some exceptionally good golf to be found here.
Played over sandy, fast-draining turf and through glorious pine, birch and fir trees the setting is as splendid as you could hope for. And many of the holes are first-class in their quality. It can’t quite stand shoulder-to-should to the famous courses in this region but it is well deserving of its ‘Top 100’ status and I imagine quite often goes under the radar of the visiting golfer, when it really shouldn’t.
I came away from North Hants, famous for its connection with Justin Rose, very impressed with the course. The good stuff is of the highest quality and there is little not to like. There is tons of variety, a great mix of holes and the flow of the round is superb.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.