Old Fold Manor Golf Club celebrated its centenary in 2010 and the golf course is one Harry Colt’s unsung designs. The club is located to the north of Barnet, just off the Great North Road, and the property is separated from the former Bridgedown Golf Club (now the Shire London) by the St Albans Road.
We wonder why Old Fold Manor Golf Club is not better known? The 6,451-yard course is laid out on the sand and gravel of an elevated, gently undulating site, which not only drains well, but also provides playing conditions reminiscent to heathland golf. Additionally, Old Fold Manor is an Open Championship Regional Qualifying course, so its credentials are crystal clear.
Viscount Enfield owned the land and originally founded the club in 1910, deciding to build a golf course on ground that saw battle during the War of the Roses. Today’s sporting contest on the site is thankfully more genteel, but you will require a solid game to conquer the Old Fold Manor scorecard.
The comparative yardages of the front and back nine are remarkably well balanced, but the front nine is where most golfers make a score. Six mid-length par fours appear on the outward half throwing up birdie opportunities for golfers who can keep it on the straight and narrow. The prettiest one-shot hole appears at the turn and hole 10 is also the shortest and easiest on the card. Measuring a mere 130 yards, it’s actually trickier than it seems and anything above the hole will require deft putting.
The 11th – a long par four – encourages the shoulders to be opened from its elevated tee, but perhaps the best hole at Old Fold Manor is the last. The home hole is another stern par four where only the longest or bravest hitters will take the green on in two shots. Water, in the shape of an ancient moat, guards the front of the green. Are you up for it?
In a County that is noted for its many fine parkland golf courses Old Fold Manor is certainly up there as one of the best and undoubtedly one of the most interesting.
This Hertfordshire gem has its varied and challenging greens to thank for the high interest levels that it creates. Working back from green-to-tee it is the putting surfaces that often dictate the strategy of each hole and in particular the pin location for that day.
Originally open heathland the 18 holes now feature many tree-lined fairways that make the wind direction less predictable. The yardage is 6,451 yards with a par of 71 although it should be noted that the SSS is 72. I imagine that the tricky greens are the reason for this because although the course doesn’t play that long it is essential that you keep your ball under the hole with your approaches.
A couple of modest two-shotters introduce us to Old Fold Manor; two of eight sub-400 yard par fours. The opener is largely forgettable but the second is an excellent hole and the green is our first indication that we’re going to have some fun during the round.
Indeed, there are some truly outstanding green complexes on the course, which held Regional Qualifying for The Open Championship from 2005-2010, but the real beauty is not just the quality but the variety of them too.
Historians may be interested in the fact that the Battle of Barnet (a decisive conflict in the Wars of The Roses) is thought to have been fought on part of the course in 1471. The member I played with advised that there used to be a plaque on the fourth hole to indicate this.
In summary, if you prefer your greens on the flat side and don’t enjoy the test or have the imagination that is required on more contoured greens then Old Fold Manor is not for you. But for me this is what brings the course alive and elevates it above many other venues in the neighbourhood.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Old Fold is an oasis of calm located on the border of London and Hertfordshire: only on one section of the course, around hole 8, do you notice that you are so close to busy, noisy London life. Tree-lined but never narrow, with draws and fades needed for different holes, spongy fairways that are lovely to play off, the real challenge here is the greens: fast and true, some obviously severe but others that are trickier to spot but no less devilish like the Par 3 14th. I wouldn't agree with some of the earlier comments about repetitive club selection at the start: if I hit decent drives I would usually be left with 9 iron, wedge, 6 iron, 8 iron, wedge and 7 iron on the first 6 holes. It's true though that the only long par 4s are on the back 9: despite being 432 yards from the tips, the dogleg right hole 11 plays much shorter with a downhill drive and approach, although a lake is on guard to catch anything right off the tee. Hole 12 goes back up the hill and is quite tight which makes for a long, difficult par 4, and then the last 2 holes as commented already are lengthy, hole 18 being a great finish with the moat 20 yards short and right of the putting surface. I loved this place when I lived in the area and can't wait to go back.
I think Old Fold is an under rated course. It's true that good wedge play is important, and the club selection is a little repetitve early on: if I hit decent drives I would usually be left with wedge, wedge, 8 iron, wedge, wedge, wedge on the first 6 holes. It's also true that solid putting and the ability to drive it well with a slight draw are also very beneficial... but then that is the case for every course!