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Review: Foxhills - Bernard Hunt Course
Posted by: Nick Bonfield on Wed 27 Jun 2012 - News/feature content for Foxhills Club & Resort
The Bernard Hunt course at the beautiful Foxhills Country Club has to be considered as one of the best and most enjoyable golfing destinations in Surrey.
The course is set within a large sports and leisure complex in a secluded area of Ottershaw, some 20 minutes away from Heathrow Airport. As you drive through the gates of the complex on a road carved through dense woodland, the beauty of the club is immediately apparent, no more so than when the 19th century Manor House comes into view.
The quality and class of the country club as a whole is reflected in the golf courses it possesses; the Bernard Hunt and the Longcross. The Bernard Hunt is a tricky test and a course that demands accuracy off the tee, with rows of trees, ditches and bushes waiting to collect any drive hit slightly off line. The rough can also be penal - depending mostly upon time of year and position - but it is scoreable if you are playing well and, more significantly, if you manage your way around the golf course.
As well as two 18-hole golf courses and a brilliant nine-hole par-3, there are multiple chipping and putting greens, a short game area, a driving range and numerous other facilities, such as tennis and squash courts, restaurants, bars and swimming pools. Foxhills doesn’t just offer a great round of golf but a complete day out. Be warned, however, if you don’t know a member, a day pass will cost somewhere in the region of £100.
If you are going to have a good round, you need to play some good golf on a front nine that presents some challenging long holes. The 1st hole is a downhill then uphill par four with a narrow fairway and encroaching rough on both sides of the fairway.
The 2nd is a short, dogleg par four, and the fairway is difficult to hold with a driver or 3-wood. Tee shots with woods must be moved from right to left, but anything leaked right will settle in a dense forest and anything pulled will end up in a ditch.
The 3rd is the first par-5 and, in truth, one of the easier holes on the course. Drives are played uphill to a generous fairway flanked by bunkers and rough. The green – around 30 feet below the level of the fairway – is reachable with a good drive. The putting surface presents the biggest challenge, with a steep back-to-front slope and several run-off areas.
The hardest stretch on the course is from holes four-seven. The 4th is a long par three requiring a long iron or fairway wood, before the difficult par-5 5th. Drives are played downhill towards a ditch dissecting the fairway around 280 yards from the tee. A good drive and the ditch should easily be cleared in two, but a drive that finds the rough could pose a dilemma. The hole slopes considerably uphill after the ditch, adding a good 20 yards to any approach shot hit to a green where only the top of the flag is visible. An excellent golf hole.
The 6th hole is a demanding par-4. Drives are hit significantly downhill, but must be hit extremely straight to avoid the ditch that intrudes into the fairway from both sides. From there, a long iron is needed to find a small green protected by trees, sand and heavy rough.
The 7th is another par-5, following a similar pattern to the 5th. After the ditch is cleared the hole bends left, and third shots must be played from far enough right to avoid a large tree on the edge of the fairway. The green is deep but very narrow, and slopes significantly from right to left.
The 8th is a medium length par three playing slightly downhill, and the 9th a short par-4 only requiring a mid-iron and a wedge. The green, however, is the smallest on the course, surrounded by sand and steep run off areas. Approaches must be pin-point accurate.
The tenth is a brutal par-4. Drives play downhill to a small piece of fairway, with anything left finding the hazard and anything right being blocked out completely by a huge tree. From the ideal spot on the left side if the fairway, a 200-yard, semi-blind shot still remains to one of the quickest greens on the course. Bogey is a good score here.
The 11th is a short, straight and relatively simple par-3, followed by the par-5 12th. The narrow fairway is flanked by huge trees, but a good drive and the green is just about in range.
The 13th is a relatively short par-4, with drives hit over a lake. A good tee shot should leave a mid to short iron to a fairly generous green.
The 14th is another par-5, the fifth on the course. Again, a water hazard comes into play, in the form of a pond around 20 yards in depth. A good drive and it should be easy to clear, but bad drive that finds rough could easily result in a wet second. If you clear the hazard, a shot of around 130 yards remains to a well-protected green.
Hole 15 is a good par-4. Drives must carry at least 200 yards to clear a water hazard and should aim to find the right hand side of the fairway, as anything on the left half will be blocked out by trees. Approaches are played uphill to the most undulating green on the course.
The 17th is a shortish par-4, but trees lie just off the fairway on both sides waiting to gobble up any errant drive. Approaches are again played uphill but demand complete accuracy, as anything short will find heavy rough in front of the green.
The closing hole is a brute of a par-4. Drives are hit over a valley to a generous fairway, but trouble lurks left, and anything leaked to the right will leave a third shot of around 300 yards. Even after a perfect drive, a long iron or fairway wood is needed to find an enormous green, but rows of dense trees will catch anything hit even slightly off line. One of the hardest par-4s I have ever played.
Overall, the course presents a good, fair challenge, set in lovely surrounding with some excellent golf holes. I would give Foxhills Bernard Hunt a rating of 4.2/5
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