The Berkshire Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Kevin Heggie
On one of the hottest days of 2021, playing 36 holes of golf as well as tucking into a three course carvery doesn’t seem like the best of ideas, but the experience presented by The Berkshire challenged that view to its fullest.
Sitting in an area which is dripping with world class courses, The Berkshire is approaching its centenary, having been founded in 1928. It consists of two courses, the Red and the Blue, laid out by esteemed architect Herbert Fowler, both of which feature in the top 100 courses in the UK. As you would expect from a heathland course in this area, the turf is firm and springy, and drains well throughout the year. As we sat staring from the patio area enjoying a pre-round bacon roll and drink, the sense of excitement and anticipation in getting to play on courses which have such history and pedigree was tangible.
Lying on slightly higher ground than the Blue, the design of the Red throws convention out of the window, and comprises of six par 3s, six par 4s, and six par 5s. The 5s in particular are gettable, with even a short hitter like me having an eagle putt on the 3rd. These short 5s mean the course presents some scoring opportunities for most, but if the 5s are ‘easy’, the short holes fight back. A number require a forced carry of reasonable distance over heather, demanding a well-executed shot or else bogeys await. Throughout the layout, heather is never far away, framing holes and halting wayward shots if you miss the generous fairways and greens, providing a lottery as to whether to try for the green or just wedge out to safety.
A final word on the Red (and Blue for that matter) must go to the putting surfaces. In hindsight I should have spent more time on the putting green before heading out, as they were rapid, and pure. Putts which looked good from six feet out could (and did) easily roll out another six feet past the flag, making many a golfer including myself look foolish!
The Blue is seen by many as the harder of the twi courses, and certainly throws down the gauntlet from the very 1st shot, with a 200-yard par 3 over a swarth of heather, with anything short or right bounding away from the green and left likely finding a bunker. I did not find it as eye catching as the Red, although the front 9 still provided an enjoyable golfing experience. The course goes up a level when you get to the 9th, turning a corner up and taking you back up to slightly higher ground (and the welcome sight of the halfway hut). The heather is certainly more prevalent from here on in, including a challenging par 5 fairway with a zig-zagging ditch to avoid (the 11th), and a back to front two-tier green placing a premium on distance control (the 12th). Respite comes in the form of the short par 3 13th, framed by heather and bunkers and giving a great view across the estate.
The home stretch is the hardest across the two courses, consisting of five par 4s weaving through the heather and back towards the clubhouse. The 16th stands out here, with a bunker waiting to catch drives, and then a ditch in front of the green ready to gather balls short of the green.
Facilities & Hospitality
Alongside the two courses, The Berkshire provides great facilities to help make a great day of golf. The pro shop is well stocked with some great looking merchandise, and the changing rooms provided one of the best power shower experiences I’ve enjoyed (after each round!). The service from the bar and restaurant was excellent, and despite the hot weather, the air-con meant the excellent three course lunch was well received.
It is no surprise that The Berkshire hosts some of the best amateurs each year via the Berkshire Trophy for men, and the Astor Salver for women, the quality of the courses ooze class. As such, The Berkshire is rightfully positioned as a premium golfing destination, with two amazing courses (for me, the Red just shades it over the Blue due to its fun factor), ready to thoroughly test your golfing skills complemented by great off course facilities. If you are looking for bucket list golf experiences, you really should be putting these courses on your shortlist.
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|The Berkshire Golf Club
from 75 reviews