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 1928 James Braid was paid 21 guineas by Sir Francis Whitmore to design a new 18-hole course. Since then, the Orsett Golf Club has gone from strength to strength. Most of Braid’s original design is evident on today’s supremely challenging heathland layout.
According to the authors of James Braid and
his Four Hundred Golf Courses, “By following the contours of the land,
Braid carved narrow fairways out of the gorse and heather, and compensated for
them by creating big greens. He also installed a large number of bunkers,
favouring his double crescent shape on the fairways.”
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.
Very good course and certainly best in the area. Greens and fairways are always in brilliant condition. Standout holes for me are the 6th and 12th which play in the gorse-covered valley. Hard to beat.
Although Essex is rightly regarded by many as one of England’s poorer golfing counties, don’t be fooled as there are a handful of very good tracks waiting to be discovered. For my money Orsett is right up there with Thorndon Park competing for the number one position. In recent times the club has done a lot of work rivetting and building new bunkers as well as introducing an impressive gorse planting programme which has improved the heathland character of the course. You will need to be a straight hitter to score well as the gorse will devour many wayward shots. Having said that, the fairways are in the main fairly generous and if you plot your way around rather than just blasting away you may well be rewarded. The majority of greens are fairly flat, with the odd exception, but are well defended with some clever bunkering. Most holes on the course are very good but the 6th, a wonderful short par 4 and the 12th, a very attractive par 3 would be my two favourites. The run of holes from 14 to 17 are more parkland in nature but the challenge is not diluted because of it. The last three holes are all tough and a cracking finish to a very fine golf course. Well worth a visit and expect a friendly welcome. Brian W
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.