Golf at Northwick Park, now known as Playgolf London, opened in 2005 with the ‘Majors’ course - a six hole configuration of full-size replicas of famous holes from around the world. There was a great deal of momentum and energy during this time and ‘golf in an hour’ was born.
After three years the six holes developed into a conventional nine-hole golf set-up which is why Northwick Park became eligible for selection as a GEM.
Obviously this is not a regular golf venue and we imagine that the format may be a little alien to golfers who frequent golf courses with a more traditional design. Our advice is to try it as the actual quality of the golf is very high indeed. Copies of holes from Oak Hill, Riviera, Ganton, The Belfry, Royal Birkdale, Royal Troon, Walton Heath and two from Augusta National are all here and, as mentioned before, the quality is evident on every single hole.
In April 2008, the course was set up for "PowerPlay Golf", which was being hailed as golf’s answer to Twenty20 cricket. The PowerPlay format is a 9-hole ‘risk and reward’ game with two flags (a hard black and an easier white) on each green. Stableford points are awarded as normal, but extra points for birdies or better are earned when playing to the black flag.
PowerPlay has been trialed around the world but it has so far failed to capture the golfer's imagination
I really enjoy playing this course and believe that if the greens were taken care of better, this would be a real gem.
The course is only a par 29 with 7 par 3's and 2 shortish par 4's. The holes are all based on famous golf holes.
Pity about the condition though: greens are not taken care of by players who dont repair pitch marks, Bunkers are never raked (some dont even have rakes, Fairways are weedy and the tee areas are decrepit.
Still enjoyable getting out and finishing 9 holes after work in under 1.5 hours.
I've watched the emergence of this course over the last 20 years. Back when I was a kid, the land the course sits on was football pitches and a pitch and putt. It took a long time for plans to come to fruition after issues with landfill, but the course opened in 2005 to great fanfare and the new concept of 6 holes or golf in an hour. I was one of the first people to play the course and I remember being blown away by the quality on offer: not just the high quality design and investment in construction and drainage, but also the superb conditioning and customer service.
These high standards could not be maintained. Over the past 10 years a range of changes have been made to ensure the commercial viability of the facility. Although necessary, each change has diluted the quality on offer. The original 6 hole concept included 2 “double holes”, so in effect there were 8 holes already. Adding an additional hole and billing the course as a 9 holer made sense, but the additional hole is weaker than the others, and the double holes now feel a little cramped with an awkward routing.
Ultimately, in this part of London suburbia, the demand does not exist for a top notch championship quality short course. It seems serious golfers prefer the challenge of 18 holes when they take on a championship quality course, there’s something about the ebb and flow of a round. However, a short course appeals to casual golfers, and Northwick Park has had success attracting occasional golfers and those new to the game. But this demographic isn’t prepared to pay premium prices for manicured perfection, so management has cut its cloth accordingly and the course conditioning is no longer superb, and even looks a little scruffy. It’s still good though, far too difficult for most people who play there, and well worth it if you only have an hour or so for golf.