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4 miles NW of Northampton
Visitors are always made welcome
If Northamptonshire County Golf Club was located closer to London, it would not only be better known, but perhaps more highly ranked within our English Top 100.
“It is possible, to those unfamiliar with these parts, that the nearness of Northampton suggests a course overlooking a predominantly urban scene,” wrote Donald Steel in The Golf Courses Guide, “but Church Brampton, in keeping with its delightful name, enjoys a fine rural setting and offers, as well an escape, a test of inland golf that, of its type, is as good as any.
James Braid, who with J. H. Taylor, Ben Sayers and Tom Ball, opened the course in 1910, returned after the last war to bring it up to date but, broadly speaking, there have been few major alterations since H. S. Colt designed the layout on a site acquired from Earl Spencer.”
Originally nominated as a Gem by Paul, and added to pages of the Top 100 platform in January 2008, Northamptonshire County was ranked for the first time in our 2016 English Top 100 and it's undeniably Northamptonshire's premier layout. Paul’s original nomination article follows, which paints a very pretty picture of this relatively undiscovered centurion.
“Northamptonshire County Golf Club borders the Althorp Estate and is set in the village of Church Brampton. It is a very traditional course and although parkland in style, it has a heathland feel to it. Designed by Harry Colt in 1909 and standing the test of time very well after a bunker layout change in 1947 by James Braid, the club is now extending the course further with many new tees opening in spring 2008 to lengthen the layout to over 6,700 yards.
The course is rather unique with three extra holes – designed by course architect Cameron Sinclair – added to the front nine layout giving players who are looking to play only nine holes the option to play 7a, 8a & 9a, which return back to the clubhouse leaving the 18-hole circuit clear after the first six holes for those playing a full round. These new holes have a feel of Woburn about them and are well worth playing if you fancy 27 holes in one day. The greens are very true with some very difficult pin positions available and the whole course is always well presented.
For many years now the course has been used as a regional open qualifying venue and has staged the British Girls Open Tournament and recently the PGA Seniors Club Professional Championship. The club itself is very friendly and the members are very courteous towards visitors with a good selection of food available in the clubhouse.
This is a course with a very good pedigree and offers a great golfing challenge any time of the year as it drains very well during the winter months.”
This is such an underrated course, should be in the top 50. Probably the most playable, fun and scorable course I have played.
Everything is there in front of you, no tricked up holes so first time you play it you can enjoy it.
I was there just last week. It’s a lovely course and a welcoming club. I think top 50 is bold though. Ipswich and Ferndown are currently 49 and 50 in the rankings which are both excellent heathland courses. I’d personally struggle to say that Northants County is on a similar level to those. Which courses in the top 50 do you think it’s better than?
I don’t usually like playing golf in a buggy if I can avoid it. Considering I was only a month on from a knee operation and the 40 degree heat on this record breaking day in July, It was probably the safer call. Brave, stupid or naive are just a few words that could be used to describe us pulling up into Northamptonshire County’s car park with the intention of playing some golf. With the course absolutely deserted and a handy water tap we kept looping back to, we were set for a rather (un)pleasant round of golf.
The course had recently held open qualifying and it doesn’t take a scientist to see why. I’d go out on a limb and say it’s not one of the most visually stunning courses you’ll play if you were to compare it with the likes of say Hankley Common. However with this being said I found it one of my favorite tests of golf. The sheer difficulty with length and strategy is the order of play and certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. Opting to play from the white tees, I can’t think of many courses I've played that offer a tougher opening two holes. That sets a precedent that the course abides by for the duration of the round. Birdies are hard to come by and pars are difficult to hold on to. No less than 6 par 4’s over 430 yards and a 232 yard par 3 added into the mix, you’d think the par 5’s ease off a little. But the second was 550 into a two club wind and the 18th you either have to be brave or stupid to hit the big stick on.
I really appreciated the tactical element of the layout. Even with the long par 4’s, clever bunker positioning, fairway undulations and the roll out with the dry fairways allows for you to not automatically be reaching for the driver. I found myself hitting a 2 or 4 iron on holes over 400 yards without a massive issue and I'm not a massive hitter.
The routing I do find a little quirky, even though it was my second visit to Church Brampton, I found myself hitting a tee shot off the 8th tee after the 3rd before dad kindly pointed out we needed to find the 4th hole! Maybe we missed the signs but it could’ve been a little more obvious that we needed to drive past the 8th and then 17th tee before finding the 4th tee tucked away. Northants is quite a long walk due to the layout and it had me questioning if it could’ve been thought out more efficiently. A fair walk after the 4th, 9th and 14th, the latter of the two having to walk under the trainline before coming back on yourself a few holes later. There are also a few holes in which it was a noticeably long walk from the green to the white tees which is probably some of the further I’d seen on my top 100 journey so far.
I don’t think I could necessarily pick a signature hole here out of the 18. I feel that can be perceived as a negative in some cases but all 18 holes here are strong and provide a good and fair test of golf. The yellow tees are quite different in length from the whites (500 yards) which ensures accessibility for all levels of golfer. I do look for that when visiting a course as I think it’s an important factor, especially with the difficulty from the whites.
Whilst I think it’s incredibly annoying to see statements along the lines of ‘if it were nearer London it would be ranked higher’ we do have to understand the reality. And that is that Northamptonshire County Golf Club could make a charge for the top 50 if it was 100 yards further south. Definitely one to come and visit and get your own take on.
Northamptonshire County was one of the first top 100 courses I'd ever played with me now being at 47 at 24 years old. Come and follow me on my adventure for pictures and discussion! https://www.instagram.com/ginger.golf/?hl=en-gb
100 yards?? Lovely review.
Oops, miles!! Thank you
Hi Josh, full disclosure – I haven’t played Northamptonshire County although you’ll be pleased to hear it’s on the shortlist for our Ganton and Woodhall Spa visit. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting point your raising that is indeed often claimed. My view on this is that some courses do suffer in terms of their rankings due to their remote locations. The contrary also happens with remote courses being disproportionately hyped, their locations and the journey towards them adding to the exclusivity of the experiences. Most panels will simply have an unconscious bias because statistically the majority will reside and play the majority of their golf in populated regions. They are able to study these courses more thoroughly and frequently. But does this mean that a Northamptonshire County cannot make a charge for the top 50 by definition? I wouldn't say so – any Colt and Braid adept would be excited to play such a golden age layout, which, let’s realize this, is already ranked in the top 5% of England’s golf courses! Therefore I see plenty of opportunity for NC to expose its full ranking potential. It may be a longer and more difficult process for some courses, but I believe quality will be recognized sooner or later.
A last is that some clubs do not even want to attract more visitors and national/international acclaim. They prefer to keep their courses to themselves and the people smart enough to discover them. I will report back to you as soon as I’ve played NC and hereby vouch to advocate together with you if I agree with you on its rating!
I knew before coming to the course, how good it was and how highly rated golfers viewed this course. I have to say that it’s even better then I could have imagined, this was my first taste of this county and this course had only made me want to explore the area more.
The round of golf was incredibly enjoyable with a few stand out holes like the 2nd, it is challenging but a stunning par 5 and the 18th which green has the most picturesque views of the stunning club house. The fairways were some of the best I have had the pleasure of playing on and gave me a Woodhall spa sort of feel. The greens were in competition state and as you will see in my photos, after a big snow downfall the greens and fairways drained very fast and after two holes there no evidence of the snow left.
In conclusion I do believe this course should be higher on the England top 100 list and can see why this course is considered a must play for golfers around.
Nice layout kept in good condition when I played a few years back. As the description says, if it were in a more prime location, it may attract more attention, as I'm sure it's a better layout than the likes of Hadley Wood in N London but that is sat at the end of a road of million pound homes!
I wouldn't put it up on my list of favourites but it certainly is a pleasant course and one I'd like to visit again.
The first day of winter golf and the putts needed whacking and two extra clubs were required on green approaches.
I would have scored well around Northamptonshire County if I had managed to do both consistently but the course is so well manicured it is easy to forget that it offers no run at this time of the year.
This is a problem because many of the holes demand accurate and powerful driving in order to open up three-point possibilities.
I tried to plot my way around but that tactic only had limited success because I couldn't reach enough targets in regulation.
Oh, and I also found too much sand. There are plenty of devlishly-placed bunkers at Northamptonshire and they were akin to magnets for my little white ball.
I am a fan of quirky holes which are not in abundance here but there are a couple. The short fourth has a blind tee-shot over gorse, leading downhill to the green and the 9th was the first time I have seen a red light at the tee to denote that people are still putting. I resisted the obvious temptation to try to smah the ball the full distance.
The 18th is the Northamptonshire's coup de grace - a gorgeous par five which leads towards the handsome clubhouse with bunkers awaiting errant shots in front of a huge green.
There is great attention to detail here, with soft Tarmac tracks protecting the course and preventing confusion because there is quite a distance between some holes.
However, there are too many not-so-memorable long par fours for me to make it among my favourites.
Of course, I say that with the caveat of indifferent weather and the Covid restrictions which curtail the full experience.
It was also great value at £50 with a county card.
Northamptonshire County GC is located in the quiet little village of Church Brampton, set amongst some stunning houses. It has a quaint feel to it and this is accentuated as you walk into the lovely clubhouse to receive a warm welcome from staff and members alike.
Quaint though is not the word I would use to describe this course. It’s a brute! 6721 yards from the tips, only two Par 5s and 8 Par 4s over 400 yards. It’s set up for tour golf and for a more fun and tactical day out, the yellows may be the preferred option here, unless you’re a player who loves to reach for the big stick on half the holes.
The course starts with a stiff 454yards Par 4 (not exactly a warm up) and then meanders through a set of reasonable but uninspiring tree-lined parkland holes. The course starts to warm up from the 7th onwards. A drive from a tee box located by the reservoir over a slight valley for an uphill approach. This is followed by a fun short par 4 (thank God!) and then the best driving view on the course from the 9th, looking over an old farmhouse that the green lays just short of.
The best stretch of holes then lie the other side of the road from 10-14, before you are met with a decent Par 3 over a stream to signal the closing set of holes. The 18th is a lovely finishing Par 5 in front of the clubhouse that offers closing birdie chances.
The course conditions were good throughout and although I can’t comment on the greens as they had been hollow tined that week, I am assured by a friend that these are one of the course’s best assets.
There are some lovely holes here and whilst I can see why it was a New Entry in the latest edition of England’s Top 100 rankings, I’d say it’s correctly positioned in that ‘tricky to place’ section from 85-100. But if you come here, have Weetabix for breakfast and wield the big stick like a Jedi.
For all photos of reviews, please follow Chris’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/top.100.golf/
I have played Northamptonshire County a few times over the years and have always found it a good parkland course. It has a tough start with a straight but long 454yard par 4 followed by an equally straight par 5 . The short 3rd is a nice looking par 3 and a good par 4 follows and these are my favourite holes on the course; strong par 4's at 5 and 7 and an interesting short par 4 at 8 follow. Holes 10-14 are the other side of the railway line and for some reason (and unlike other reviewers) when ever I play these holes I don't enjoy them as much as the rest of the course. Once you return over the railway line the finishing four holes are good with a nice par 3, two strong par 4's and a fairly narrow par 5 to finish. I haven't played any other of the Northamptonshire courses to compare it with, but for me I'd put it behind Little Aston in terms of parkland courses I have played and some way behind a number of heathland courses. A good course (not great) and worthy of a day out so suits a 4 ball rating for me.
Is this the most underrated course in England, possibly. To not get into the top 100 makes a bit of a mockery of the top 100, because not only does this deserve to be in the top 100, it is actually far better than many of the courses that get in the top 50 in my opinion. It is long, but playable and there is a good range of holes, with the par 4 4th being a particularly good hole. The best holes are however the far side of the railway bridge, with the stretch from 10 to 13 being up there with any of the courses on this list. The course has like many done a vast amount of tree clearance which has improved the course, if it had been down to me at the back of 13 and 15 where the trees have been completely removed, I would have left two or three trees to add to the character of the holes. Overall a great course in a great location and a very smart clubhouse. Underrated, definitely, and just looking at the reviews on this website, it needs to enter the top 100.
"if it was closer to London it would be a regular top 100 contender".....what bias...surely where a course is located has no bearing on if it should be a contender or not; talk about a North South divide....Anyway what are my thoughts. Fantastic course in the same bucket as places like Notts, Fulford, Sherwood Forest etc etc and therefore should sit comfortably inside the Top 100 in England. I feel it has no weak holes and it is an excellent par 70 test of golf where, classically you think a short 130 yd par 3 will give you a respite, but it does not. If you keep driving up and down the M1 past J16 take the time to turn east for about 10 min and go an play.
I returned to Northamptonshire County Golf Club after a gap of just over three years - this is a course that I loved more or less on arrival back in 2015. It was an easy 5-ball ranking then and that is still true now, probably more so. The club are investing on the course with some great looking updated bunkers plus in the always needed woodland management/tree clearance program on heathland - views across the course and now so much better and that extra light and air that hits the course can only help.
A beautiful sunny February day helped enjoy the course which looked a picture so early in the year especially after the beating English courses took during the 2018 heatwave. Over the years I have played many English courses in the first quarter of the year and the greens here on the County course played the best ever for me; very true, pretty quick and the subtle borrows making balls react as though it was the height of summer.
I mentioned my favourite holes in the posted review below from 21/10/15 and they remain the same but the collection of all of the holes offer so much variety and so much fun throughout the round.
I think on and off the course there is a very positive attitude to making the member and visitor experience first class and I recommend the County course here at Church Brampton in a big way - I can only see positive opinions from golfers that play here.