Hadley Wood Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Rob Treanor
Hadley Wood Golf Club received exceptionally positive feedback from Golfshake members in 2018, scoring well across all reviewing categories and coming top nationally for Hospitality. The team dispatched Ambassador Rob Treanor to dig a little deeper into this venue’s winning formula.
Hadley Wood is a par 72 championship course designed by one of the game’s greatest architects - Dr Alister MacKenzie. First opening for play in 1922, the club now hosts events such as Open Qualifying and County Championships. Located amidst beautiful parkland in Hertfordshire, the course resides on a ridge which sweeps down through undulating woodland towards a handful of pretty lakes.
The large Georgian mansion, which is used today as the clubhouse, has striking views down onto several holes, offering a tempting preface to the round. Classy, traditional wooden lockers adorn the changing rooms, creating an air of luxury and exclusivity; in keeping with the five-star service the venue provides. It almost goes without saying that a club of this calibre has extensive practice facilities which include a grass bay range, a chipping green and extensive putting green.
Front 9 Overview
A gentle, downhill opening par five eases golfers into the round before the pace begins to quicken. MacKenzie’s ethos in design centred around making a course fun to play, meaning holes regularly offer a variety of strategic choices. A generous fairway on the second belies the green’s false front which happily rejects anything short! A pretty hole; the severity of the slope on the green makes putting a challenge so staying below the hole is essential. Investing in a course guide can help to plan ahead for the playful, visual trickery.
Whilst often challenging, the course is not set out to unduly punish the golfer or to make life deliberately awkward. The par 4 fourth is an excellent example of MacKenzie’s work. A straightforward dogleg left, there is the temptation to carry over the woodblock from the tee if feeling bold, though a straight long iron carries far less risk to find the middle of the fairway. A trademark raised plateau green with two undulating levels awaits the approach shot, guarded by freeform bunkers, which almost resemble fingers in their shaping. The runoff at the front of the green and gradient between the levels requires a skilful shot to find the optimal part of the green.
Back 9 Overview
MacKenzie harnessed the best of the available scenery in all areas of the estate. Even at the most low-lying point of the course, the par three 10th has an intimidating double carry over water which is both stunning and fearsome! The lake shouldn’t really be in play (though some of my playing partners managed to prove otherwise), but the brook and bunkering to the front will ensnare anything short. If you can keep the demons in your mind at bay, executing a decent long iron will set up a good start to the second half of the course. The greens at Hadley Wood have been sculpted and crafted to the highest specification, of which the 12th is probably the pick of a very fine bunch. After an immensely satisfying downhill drive from up near the clubhouse, the second shot is played slightly uphill to a raised, two-tiered green. The gradient is severe enough to reject balls which find the wrong area, though for TV style drama; landing long of the flag and watching the ball gradually creep back down towards it is a very satisfying sight indeed!
The fairways at Hadley Wood sweep grandly around ancient woodblocks; this land was previously a royal hunting ground and has lost none of its imposing majesty. Both the 13th and 14th make the most of this grand scenery, as they meander around mature trees and traverse up and downhill towards the greens. This variety in aspect and the affect the undulations have on both stance and ball position continue to make the course interesting, thought-provoking and immensely enjoyable.
The 17th is a delight. This pretty par three is played over a valley to a green framed by the woodblock beyond. There is a decent gradient on the green to contend with, which means that playing to the front and leaving an uphill putt would be ideal. Bunkers and a (now familiar) runoff area lie in wait to punish anything that doesn’t reach the green, so beware!
Hadley Wood is an outstanding facility. The course is sublime, though the club goes out of its way to make the experience about more than just 18 holes. The unique and impressive clubhouse is utilised to create a retreat where golfers can relax and enjoy the scenic surroundings. The club made a decision to recruit a highly skilled food and beverage team from a nearby country house estate, which has paid dividends judging by the quality of the food on offer.
There are many different areas to relax and enjoy good company, including a light and airy bar, outdoor terrace and even a snooker room. We visited during the weekend of the Masters and there were a few sore heads amongst the locals following a communal late night viewing in the impressive TV room. This venue has an air of a country club to it, but with a refreshing welcoming atmosphere of inclusivity whether a member or not. This unique attitude and culture which is embodied by the staff resulted in Hadley Wood achieving top marks for Hospitality from Golfshake members in 2018. This five star service has definitely been sustained into the 2019 season!
This is a true golfing feast. Hadley Wood has been designed to satisfy a golfer’s every wish and the independent feedback the club continues to receive from Golfshake members demonstrates the team are doing a superb job of delivering. If you haven’t experienced the excellent golf and outstanding service this club provides, this should be right at the top of your to do list!
• Breathe in the beautiful views but be alert to the clever course design, such as false fronts.
• The greens are quick and slick meaning putting uphill keeps the heart rate down.
• Stay for lunch - the food is outstanding!
Overall Rating – 9
Course (Conditions) - 9
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 9
Course (Green Condition) - 10
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 9
Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 9
Practice Facilities - 9
Friendliness/Hospitality - 10
Pace of Play - 9
Value for Money - 10
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