Golf at Orsett dates back to the late 19th century when several locals caught the Scottish golf bug and laid out a few rudimentary holes on Mucking Heath, which is located in the wonderfully named area of Mucking and Fobbing. Records are sketchy, but in 1898 the recommendation was to form a golf club and, in 1899, a 4-hole Orsett Golf Club was born.
In 1929 the great James Braid was paid 21 guineas to remodel and extend Orsett to a full 18 holes. Since then, the club has moved from strength to strength and most of Braid’s original design is evident on today’s supremely challenging heathland layout.
Orsett is set on the northern banks of the Thames and the wind tends to funnel up the estuary making playing to handicap a serious challenge. The county of Essex is not blessed with ideal golfing ground as the majority of the county is largely made up of heavy clay, but the course at Orsett Golf Club is set on pleasantly undulating heathland terrain.
The course opens up with a medium length par five and, with two further par fives on the outward nine, there are real birdie opportunities available for the big hitters. Sandwiched between the par five 5th and 7th is the wonderful signature short par four 6th which is set in a sunken valley which was formerly a sand quarry where sand was extracted for filling James Braid's early bunkers. With just one par five on the inward nine, you need to make your score going out as coming home – especially 17th and 18th – is invariably played into the prevailing wind.
Orsett is certainly one of the premier courses in Essex and consequently is used as a Regional Qualifying track for the Open Championship. Many trees and bushes have been removed over the years in an attempt to retain the heathland status quo and we think it’s essential to continue this work because Orsett is undoubtedly a rare sandy jewel in the Essex mud.
Orsett may be the best course in Essex, but that’s not necessarily a huge compliment as there only a few commendable courses in the whole county. Orsett plays like a seaside course in places and from the 7th the views from the high ground serve as a gentle reminder that you are playing golf close to the stark, cheerless and industrial Thames Estuary. The short par four 6th is perhaps my favourite hole which, depending on the wind direction, can be reached with a good drive depending on how much of the right to left doglegging hole you are brave enough to take on. I’ve played Orsett a couple of times and think that the design is good and the ground ideal for golf. The greens are invariably in good nick but the general condition of the tees and surrounding areas was a bit on the side of scruffy. Overall a good course that could be No.1 in Essex.