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?
This course flies under the radar a little, but has a fantastic set of green complexes that provide variety and interest (and a few frightening putts in summer!). There is a real mix of greens tilted front-to-back, back-to-front, left-to-right and right-to left. The 2nd is a lovely bowl shape, the 6th is an upturned saucer. The 9th is a wide target, the 10th is a postage stamp ringed with bunkers. I could go on, but you get the picture: the greens are the highlight, and they are usually in lovely condition too.
The other feature of the greens at OFM are that on most holes they are designed to allow the golfer to run the ball in. When the course opened in 1910, the land was open heathland and favoured the ground game. A century of tree growth and today the course plays more like a parkland, with softer turf and more target golf. It would be fantastic if the club could invest in a tree clearance programme to improve drainage and return to the original heathland playing characteristics with the gravelly sandy turf.
In terms of investment, the club has recently upgraded the practice facilities (which are excellent) and used landfill to contour some holes. Although this has been done to protect the road boundary it has reduced the quality of the 6th and 8th holes. They have both lost their strategy off the tee which is a shame.
I mentioned strategy off the tee – it is a real feature here, with subtle doglegs it rewards golfers who can shape the ball. I like the fact that driver is always an option, it’s just not always the best option! The 2nd is a perfect example: off the tee there is lots of room out to the right, although fairway bunkers catch a weak tee shot, but this provides a poor angle into the green. A draw down the left opens up the approach to the green, but this means flirting with the tree line and water hazard. How far left dare you go?
Harry Colt knew what he was doing, and there is a lot to admire at Old Fold. I would have given this 4 balls in the past, but the recent course alterations drag it down to 3.5 - however with tree clearing and renovation this could easily be a 4.5 ball course.
Is this course a bad course? No. The greens were fantastic, quick, true and extremely undulating, a two putt was never a guarantee and it was definitely a day to lag putt everything rather than getting aggressive with the putts as my playing partner found out to his peril.
Other than that though, it's just your standard golf track. No special holes, nothing offensive. A short course, but by no means easy as the tree line and OB stakes (houses are VERY close to some parts) make it play tight and enforce you to take your medicine when you get out of position.
A good place to practice your putting, but if I was in the area and wanted a good game, I'd go to it's neighbour at the Shire.
Very nice “members’ club” course and what I saw of the facilities it all adds up to a nice place. The course has an air of quality and still mentions it’s former hosting of Open Qualifying in years gone by.
I don’t mean this negatively but despite the quality I didn’t feel there was anything to be wowed about … it is just a very nice course and club, which I would happily play again and even join were it not for an M25 commute.
I seem to be saying this a lot, but I have played harder SI 1’s than the par 3 third. Perhaps the 11th is the closest to a signature hole sweeping down and around a lake with a fairly slippery green whilst the 7th is an attractive par 3 along with the short par 3 bunkered 10th.
The par 4 18th plays tough - with the “moat” in front of the green meaning you have to lay up to be safe unless you get a big drive away.
Well worth a visit, very pleasant.
314th course played in England and 452nd worldwide
You seem to be saying it a lot because SI is not a ranking of difficulty: https://www.todaysgolfer.co.uk/features/golfs-bigg...
As an illustration, I'd say the 11th, 12th, 17th and 18th at Old Fold are all tougher than the 3rd.
Yes I know, but - and this obviously not anything to do with OFMGC - why have an SI system in place supposedly designed for match play when in fact a far higher percentage of Club competitions are played using Dr Frank’s stableford scoring system ?!
Surely the solution to avoid all these issues is to make common practice what only a handful of Clubs do and have TWO sets of SI, one probably on the card as it is the by far most commonly used, which ranks the holes in order of (calculated from past results) playing difficulty from 1 to 18 and then for the occasional match play events have a slip available to match players, like a pin position sheet, which lays out the match play SI ?
To continue as most Clubs do, mainly using a system for one form of the game which is calculated for a lesser used form of the game, is like putting with a rescue club because although you need a putter on almost every hole you have a club designed for easy long distance which you may use on two holes per round but that someone has decreed you must use to putt with on every hole !?
Really lovely course, played yesterday in great condition, not long and quite wide so perfect for those new to golf but also challenging for those who are confident drivers as risk reward can be high. Good club facilities too,definitely worth a round.
I played here in a scratch tournament against Old Fold Manor team and was amazed at this little Gem in Hertfordshire. I didn't know much about it and was very surprised at how good it was. I don't know if they made the greens extra quick for the scratch tournament, but WOW! I havnt played on greens that quick in a LONG time. I thought it was a brilliant test of skill, the layout was good greens were some of the best I have ever played although im not sure if that is the case from week to week.
I look forward to getting back here to visit sometime soon!
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!