Pinner Hill Golf Club was inaugurated in 1928, with one of the most prominent founders, Mr F. L. Griggs, becoming the club’s first president. The course is the result of the collaborative design/construction talents of J. H. Taylor and F.G. Hawtree and nothing much has changed with the layout since its inception.
Set on the side of a hill, hence the name of the club, the course measures 6,394 yards from the back markers, playing to a par of 71, with holes organized as two returning 9-hole loops. The back nine measures more than 200 yards shorter than the front nine, due in the main to a configuration that includes three par threes.
Feature holes on the scorecard include both the short par fours at the 2nd and 12th, the first of the par threes at the heavily sand-protected 4th, and the tough 398-yard 18th (rated stroke index 6), where the fairway crosses a rather intimidating watercourse less than 100 yards shy of the home green.
Pinner flies under the radar a little. It is tucked away on a private estate, with the clubhouse sitting at the top of the hill, and has a very imposing gothic styled Victorian clubhouse (sadly a little dilapidated now).
The course itself is no pushover, and is arguably the toughest in the area. This is largely due to the hilly terrain with many elevated and tricky greens. If you struggle playing with the ball above or below your feet, this is not the course for you! Due to the fairway undulations, you need to allow for a lot of roll on some fairways... in summer this can become a bit ridiculous in certain places if the fairways have been baked.
It is also a very quirky course. I find it easier to reach the green in 2 on some of the par fives (1, 5 and 10) than some of the long par fours (6 and 8). But par is an arbitrary number, if you think of all these holes as par 4.5 that is about right. 12 is very quirky: a short par 4 dogleg with a blind tee shot over the corner of the hill, as long as you make it over the top of the hill, the ball gathers down to the same point at the bottom of the fairway to leave you a wedge to a tricky two tier green hidden in the woods and set into the side of the hill. A downhill putt here can be treacherous, I've seen 4 and 5 putts on this green. 17 is even more quirky: a 240 yard blind par three to a tiny green, the tee shot needs to land on the fairway 40-80 yards short depending on the firmness of the fairway and roll on to the green. There is some skill in judging this, but no way to know where on the green the flag is, so proximity to the hole is largely luck... just needs a windmill to complete the experience.
There are two holes which I think stand out for the right reasons: the 2nd is a short par four over the brow of a hill. It's a blind tee shot, but at 310 yards with the ball landing on a downslope it is potentially drivable, although the green is well guarded by bunkers at the front. A lay up with an iron is therefore the sensible option for many, but your wedge approach must be perfectly judged to clear the front bunkers and grip on a slippery green which slopes front to back. It's easier when the greens are soft but an excellent test of strategy and clean ball striking. Then the 11th (parallel to the 2nd) is a very attractive par three of 160 yards. The long green sits on rising ground and is angled across diagonally, so that a left pin is much further to carry than a right pin. Large bunkers guard the front with woodland over the back, so finding the middle of the green is the safest option, but that can leave a tricky putt if the pin is tucked at the front or back - an excellent hole.
Overall, a challenging course with a strong finish in front of the clubhouse, but too many quirks for it to be a classic course.
First thing to mention is that the course at Pinner Hill is about 35 miles from my home and my first game here was in August of this year – what a mistake to have left it so long, as this is delight to play and one of the most enjoyable London border courses that I have played in a very long while. The big theme is a rolling course, with strong elevation change and so much variety from start to finish. Without getting too caried away, Pinner Hill has everything and all positive – short and long par-4s, short and long par-3s and testing par-5s.
The opening four holes give such a strong message right from the off; the 1st a downhill par-5 at 527 yards and such an inviting opening tee shot. A 307 yard over the brow of a hill par-4 is the 2nd then the 3rd hole is one of the tough par-4’s that is slightly uphill and 411 yards - this first four stretch ends with a good looking par-3 at 157 yards. That first 45 minutes on the course delivers in a big way; quality, variety and a lot of fun.
A constant at Pinner Hill is that the tee shots on all of the par-4s and par-5s are probably the easiest shots on these holes with pretty generous landing areas and then the difficulty increases the closer that you get to the greens (great design). Many holes have false fronts, raised greens and very strong greenside bunkering – all in all, this course and it’s quality has certainly has flown under the radar, for nearly 100 years!
When I look at the front-nine hole yardages, it really does seem that every style of hole has been covered – rarely seen.
The back nine starts with a similar hole to the opener, a par-5 that is a touch over 500 yards and also downhill – not exactly the same but similar. One slight observation on the 10th is that the fairway bunkering about 110 yards from the green, does need an upgrade.
The quality continues with a beauty of a 163 yard 11th – with four brilliant bunkers covering the front and left of the green. The 12th is a great example of a hole getting tougher towards the green; the hole is only 280 yards long and turns dramatically right – so it’s a positional tee shot that is needed, then a shortish approach to a raised green with a step through this is where the hole bites back – such a clever design and SI-8 for such a short hole tells a story.
So many holes became favourites after playing just once and if pushed, the 417 yard 14th is my standout. It is at the furthest point south on the course and once again, you should be able to get a drive away with not too much trouble, just avoid the lone fairway bunker on right side. I played my approach from about 180 yards to an offset green, with a false front and another step on the putting surface – bunkers left and right make this a tough but a real quality hole.
It comes as no surprise that Pinner Hill ends well; a couple of par-3s and two strong par-4s – easy to write about them all… The 244 yard par-3 17th – is blind (downhill), is too long and also a call-up hole – these three things should go into the mix and make me hate it! BUT I actually love it…. You do not see holes like this often, not sure about unique but ultra-rare.
If being honest, the 18th tee shot is the least inspiring on the course, slightly uphill and not easy to see the landing area – the look of the approach to the green is ok though and the pond around 110 yards short of the green shouldn’t be in play but who knows?
I would suggest that if Pinner Hill is easy to get to from where you live, do not hesitate to visit as the course exceeded expectations for me by a long way and the current county ranking of #10 does not accurately reflect what I know about the courses of Middlesex – I will be back soon.
a classic local course to me but worth checking out of you are in town, you know you've played it the next day as its a real up and down. top tip, the club fitter Kevin Redfern is one of the best in Europe, what he doesn't know about club making etc isn't worth knowing, check him out via the club website.
Hilly and uninspiring. Far better courses in the area
Leaving the noise of the main road down below and driving up through the posh houses around the estate gives you a feeling of exclusivity as you approach the course, but this members club is actually extremely welcoming to visitors. The course itself is a lot of fun to play, some very demanding holes and others that would be considered weaker in comparison, but sure help with your score! Not exactly a great course, but a nice gem in an area where many courses are prohibitively priced.
Standout holes for me would be the par 5 hole 5 (any slice will disappear down the slopes on the right, and the approach also needs to be very precise), the view from the tee of hole 11 really frames the par 3 and the challenges it brings, hole 12 is a quirky short par 4 with a severe dogleg right but a strong right to left camber on the fairway, so anything but a controlled fade will end up in the left rough much further away than expected, hole 16 is a beast of a par 4 for its length and the drop off areas around the green, hole 17 is a 220 yard par 3 that slopes severely downhill: use the contours and be lucky! Many other long par 4s as well make the course no pushover whatsoever.
My quibbles would be that some of the holes feel very similar to each other, in terms of direction and layout, and also two par 5s (holes 1 and 10) run parallel to each other down a strong slope, so don't play like par 5s and again fell very similar to each other.
Some of the views of London in the far distance are also very impressive (look backwards on hole 14, or was it hole 7...?).