If Northamptonshire County Golf Club was located closer to London, it would not only be well known, but also a regular ranking contender for our English Top 100.
Originally nominated as a Gem by Paul, and added to the Top 100 website in January 2008, Northamptonshire County has now been awarded a coveted ranking position. 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.”
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 heat 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.
Northamptonshire County Golf Club at Church Brampton is a big, bold and at times intimating heathland course that provides one of the sternest inland tests in the country.
It’s a venue that seems to go somewhat under the radar, even within golfing circles around the Midlands, but can and does hold its own against most of its peers.
It’s not a heathland layout in the mould of those on the sandbelt South-West of London; there is very little heather to be found here, however, there is firm, sandy, well-draining turf and an abundance of gorse. So much so in fact that coupled with lots of other shrubbery and trees it feels very claustrophobic, at times overly so.
A number of the tee-shots have limited visibility and although this adds to the overgrown feel I quite like the intimidation factor that this presents in a similar way to Alwoodley Golf Club in Yorkshire.
On many of the holes you are asked to work your ball from left-to-right and often into the lie of the land. As a consequence this can make the course play even longer but there is such an onus on being on the fairway it is imperative that you don’t try and force it around here.
If the playability factor of Northamptonshire County improved, by clearing out a lot of the undergrowth, I think I would rank this course much higher. As it stands I was still very impressed by my first visit to this fine club and hope to make it an annual visit.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.