Located in the village of Radlett, a mere 15 miles northwest of London city centre, the course at Porters Park Golf Club has hosted Open Championship Regional Qualifying in the past, which gives a good indication of the quality on display at this lovely Hertfordshire track.
The golf club was founded in 1899, when a golf course was set out within the grounds of the Porters mansion house, which was then owned by MP Grace. The Porters property also boasted a cricket pitch within the grounds, laid out by by the renowned WG Grace. Three years later, the land was sold to Cecil Raphael, who became the club’s President and Patron.
to the book
by Mike Berners Price, Raphael “performed the dual role of
benefactor and dictator for twenty years until 1923 when he offered
the club the opportunity to purchase the course and clubhouse for
The author continues: “Unfortunately, funds were not available and the land was purchased by Middlesex County Council. Shortly afterwards, Raphael resigned from the club when his sons were asked to pay green fees while playing on the course.”
We don't know for sure who originally laid out the course, but according to The Golf Course by Geoffrey Cornish and Ron Whitten, Scottish professional Cuthbert Butchart either designed or redesigned the course. Indeed, Butchart listed Porters Park as one of his designs in an advert published in the German Golf Federation yearbook of 1911 alongside other courses, including his most famous creation, West Hill.
The course was used during World War II for crop production and anti-tank obstacles by the 10th and an old pillbox by the 14th can still be viewed today. C.K. Cotton became the club secretary in 1945 and he’s credited with a number of course improvements during his short tenure.
Past members at Porters Park include Peter Townsend, who became a junior member in 1959 then went on to participate in both the Walker Cup as an amateur (1965) and the Ryder Cup as a professional (1969 and 1971) before eventually becoming Captain of the PGA in 1994.
Today, the course can be stretched to 6,529 yards, though the par of 70 for this distance is two full stokes less than the standard scratch score from the back markers so don’t expect an easy walk in the park if playing from those tees.
A round here starts with five par four holes, the toughest of which is the left doglegged 4th, played across the brook that runs through the course to a three-tiered green which is well protected by three large, menacing bunkers.
The 448-yard 8th is another fine par four on the front nine, where the brook comes into play again and a little gully eats into the right side of the fairway as it climbs gently uphill towards a blind green perched on top of a ridge.
On the back nine, the par three 14th is the pick of the short holes, with a back-to-front sloping green positioned behind the brook, while the 472-yard 18th provides a strong finish to the round as the tree-lined fairway narrows considerably on its way to the home green.
Neil Coles & Associates recently consulted at the club and the design firm oversaw a bunker renovation.
I played at Porters Park for a number of years as a member and enjoyed my time there. The course in the summer is usually in good condition and the greens can get very quick.
It's not the longest of course (but who needs that anyway) but you will have to play well to shoot your handicap. It starts out seemingly easy with a short par 4 which I like very much. I have, however, topped my tee shot onto the 18th green on occasion but no other golfers were injured. After the first, the course starts to show some teeth with long par 4s on 3 and 4. The par 3 6th is very tricky to play (perhaps too tricky?) but a great challenge. People say that the par 5 10th hole is a bit weak but I think it's a fun hole. I'm not too fond of the par 5 13th with OB all along the left hand side. A scene of many lost balls.
The closing holes at Porters are strong ones with 16, 17 and 18 all posing a good challenge. I think 18 is more a par 5 but it makes for a very good closing hole.
You will have a lovely time at Porters, it's well worth playing if you're around the area. David and Peter in the pro shop are good guys too.
I took our School Golf Society, made up of former students, parents and staff to Porters Park in October of this year. There had been torrential rain over night and the start had to be delayed. However we were very well looked after with bacon rolls and coffee and were given regular updates. The ground staff worked tirelessly to sponger greens etc. When we did get out the course was in fantastic condition despite the weather and we all enjoyed a beautiful and challenging course. This was followed by a great lunch. Peter Marshall and his team took really great care of us all day.
Played this course many times and whist it is not a long course it is a course that is hard to score well on because of its hills and hazards. A ditch runs across the course coming in to play on 8 holes which punishes bad shots or bad club selection. The greens are quick and the bunkers are excellent. There are many challenging holes especially the par 4 18th being over 430 yards with a very challenging green which has a 10 ft dip in front which will help to make high scores. Other long holes include (Par 4s, 3rd, 4th, 8th, 11th, 16th) This is a magnificent course and in my opinion is one of the best in the county if not the best.