Brocket Hall Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook
Just 22 miles from Central London - the 540-acre estate grounds at the stunning Brocket Hall plays host to two formidable golf courses each offering a different test to golfers of any ability.
The Melbourne Club, which is what the membership and golfing facilities are more commonly known as, uses the natural undulations of the landscape, the River Lea running through, and the woodland area which features heavily to create what must be considered two distinguished championship courses.
The impressive backdrop of the Hall itself, which dates to 1760, is one of a number of impressive buildings that are dotted around the estate that all play their part in making the experience at Brocket Hall what it is.
The two courses are named after former Prime Ministers - who both lived at Brocket Hall.
As well as two championship golf courses, the excellent academy and practice facilities, the venue also features a number of dining options, luxurious accommodation, meeting facilities, and is a perfect venue for weddings, parties and other social events.
Golf concierge is located in the golf car park where you can get checked in and collect any snacks, drinks and essentials needed for your round. It's worth mentioning that there is also a separate professional shop located in the main building where you will also find a relaxed bar to grab a snack or other refreshments before heading out to play.
The academy area is also well worth a visit, where you can hit some balls to loosen up or make use of the three different chipping greens with varying slopes and bunkers.
There are also two different putting greens for each course, both are located close to the 1st tee and starter huts where you can get to grips with the pace of the day.
Front 9 Overview
The opening couple of holes set somewhat of a tone for The Melbourne Course. Whilst the 1st isn’t crazy long, the severely sloping fairway falls away from left to right and is sandwiched between the Hall on the left and the Broadwater Lake (which the River Lea runs through) on the right. I would think any type of shot that is fading (for a right hander) will be coming close to the water regardless of where it lands. Then you face an approach shot into one of the smaller greens on the course that is also littered with bunkers and the lake still running up the right.
The 2nd plays directly over the lake, from the white tee it plays 190 yards from an elevated tee down to the green, but at just 160 yards to carry the water there is a bit of wriggle room for anything that isn’t struck perfectly. But it's stroke index 4 for a reason!
The water is back in play on the 4th - but more on that later, before you play the second of the front 9 par 5s that might be reachable for some at just 480 yards, however, the 11 bunkers that sit between tee and green will need to be negotiated with before you can think about making a birdie.
The 8th is a great dogleg from left to right where the approach shot plays down to a green that slopes severely from front to back, if you take too much on from the tee you could leave yourself an awkward downhill lie on your second shot, before the front 9 rounds itself off with another great par 3 that again drops down from the tee to a long narrow green meaning 30 yards could be added to the hole depending on where the pin placement is. Some stunning views from this tee box too.
Back 9 Overview
At 456 yards - the par 4 11th is statistically the hardest hole on the course. And boy was it tough into the wind too. The narrowing fairway protected by large bunkers either side means two good hits and you’re still not guaranteed a putt for a 3. Without doubt a really tough hole where a 5 might even be a good score.
12 and 13 offer some respite, however. You can cut some of the corner over three bunkers on the 12th to shorten the dogleg that runs left to right - and at 338 yards, the 13th is another great chance to have a bash and get one as close to the green as possible, as long as the extremely large bunker on the right is avoided. It’s an inviting second shot into a fairly flat green - a really good chance for birdie.
After the long par 3 14th, the 15th hole moves right to left from the tee and felt like the only hole where a good draw shot is ideal to keep it away from the fairway bunkers on the right. Another undulating green awaits your approach shot too and keeping your ball below the hole will be crucial.
Like the 4th on the front 9, I will talk separately about the 16th a bit further down, and after playing up slightly on the 17th, one last spectacle awaits for you on the 18th.
The finishing hole is fantastic. A 520-yard par 5 playing down the hill with scenic views of the lake and the Hall in the distance. A well struck tee shot down the hill will leave a good chance of hitting into the green in two - BUT you must carry the water and the green sits the other side of the lake surrounded by the trees.
Regardless of the outcome of the second or third shot (depending on whether you go for it in two), instead of having to walk around the lake, the unique small mini boat will ferry you from one side to the other in about a minute or so giving you some time to soak up the finish, surroundings and experience before putting out and heading off up to enjoy the drink you have probably deserved.
Both fairways run adjacent with the River Lea as that flows away from Broadwater Lake. From the tee both fairways play towards the water at the end, but this is probably not in play except for really long hitters on the 16th, while at the end of each fairway on either side sits a green - but instead of playing into the green in front of you, you play to the right on the 4th and left on the 16th meaning both approach shot cross over the lake adding that extra something to each hole. I thought the way these holes have been designed and laid out was a superb addition to the course and the 360-degree views as you walk over the grand bridge from one side to the other also add that extra something. They really are so much fun.
The Melbourne is a fantastic golf course. I think it has everything, long and short par 3s, par 4s and reachable par 5s. It has the grand Hall, it has the water, it has scenic views, elevation changes, and the boat ride at the end to boot.
The fairways in places are fairly wide meaning it's playable for golfers of all abilities and whilst the greens are fairly large, they are also undulating which I think is a great combination, and the course drains really well meaning it should be playable all year round.
The greens themselves will catch one or two out, especially the slopes - missing in the right places will be crucial.
As a single figure golfer, I always try to look at courses through the eyes of players of all abilities and I think higher handicappers will also really enjoy this course - maybe the water will come into play but that’s all part of the fun.
Overall, I really rate The Melbourne, I think it complements The Palmerston very well with a different type of test - and more importantly one that will be enjoyed by everyone lucky enough to play.
Front 9 Overview
Whereas The Melbourne feels a bit more open with more scenery and landmarks to take in, The Palmerston Course takes on a slightly different feel for most of the layout.
Whilst the 1st goes against this slightly with a bit of an open feel, at 380 yards playing slightly uphill, you will need a couple of good shots to get your round underway successfully.
As early as the 2nd hole you feel tested. 400+ yards with a narrow tree lined tee shot gives an early sense of what is a more demanding test from the tee. Again, this will require a couple of very good shots to get it close to the green and as you play the 3rd - which is a lot shorter in length and really frames well from the tee - the trees become more prominent surrounding the entire hole.
Another superb - yet daunting - tee shot is waiting for you on the 4th as the hole moves from right to left, but also falls away from fairway to green so you will be looking forward to a bit of respite on the par 3 5th.
The 6th is a stunning par 5 with the fairway playing slightly uphill before you face a second shot where the green won't be in play for most, but is inviting on the eye, and while the putting surface sits level with where you are playing from, the fairway drops down before rising back up in spectacular fashion.
The front 9 finishes with a par 5 that feels gettable - but the bunkers short of the green are fairly hidden and will need to be carried in order to give yourself a good birdie chance.
Back 9 Overview
Back-to-back par 5s at 9 and 10 meaning, depending on the wind direction, one of them will probably be reachable. The 10th offers a nice opportunity to open up the shoulders and really give it a rip off the tee as this is quite comfortably the widest fairway on the entire course. The fairway does slope from right to left and it will more than likely be a three shot hole for most players, but the further left you go with your second shot the flatter the lie, however that also means you are playing up to the green and the distance is difficult to judge.
The 11th is a brute, again playing uphill with a couple of fairway bunkers to the right-hand side of the fairway on the brow of the hill making you want to hit over them, but it will take a good hit to keep them out of play. Very tough hole, especially if it is playing into the wind.
The next few holes are back in the dense wooded area, and the 12th gives you no room for a miss. The fairway plays down from the tee but does also run out around 250 yards before you have to play a second shot over a crater like dip that sits between fairway and green.
The 15th and 16th go back to the tight feel from the tee, both playing around 390 yards and both playing slightly uphill. 15 moves slightly from right to left, 16 the other way, and both holes are protected by fairway bunkers on the dogleg side and a greenside trap protecting small greens. A couple of great holes.
A par 3 awaits at 17 where the green is slightly blind and slopes all around meaning the tee shot - whilst not of significant length - need to be precise before heading to the par 5 finishing hole.
At 550 yards, the 18th is a fitting finish and epitomises what has gone before it. Tight tree lined tee shot that falls away from the fairway which whilst narrow, feeds back into the middle from both sides. This might leave you a slightly blind second shot so make sure you are hitting on the correct line as the tree close to the middle of the fairway keep you second guessing.
A nice wedge into a wide but narrow green might offer up a chance of a final birdie. But 5 is still a good score to finish.
I felt The Palmerston was a harder course. A lot more challenging from the tee and the greens felt smaller and harder to find.
I think you could definitely plot your way round this course but you really need to have your strongest game from the tee in order to do so and anything offline is likely to 'hit and drop' not leaving you too many chances other than getting it back in play.
The greens, whilst fantastic, felt a lot more subtle in places making them tricky to read and hole putts on.
I'm not saying you won’t enjoy this course - far from it - but I think higher handicap players may enjoy it more by playing from the forward tees in order to give themselves a few different options from the tee and more chances to hit greens or scramble should fairways be missed.
The way the course is sculptured from its natural surroundings is a real quality feature of a well-designed golf course and this certainly fits that mould.
The condition is great, the land felt more natural and strikes me that it would drain extremely well offering up good golf all year round.
Overall, The Palmerston - as I said about The Melbourne - really complements the other course. It’s a different test but another really fun one where you have to be on your game to score well but it shouldn't affect enjoyment levels.
I found myself asking the question - if I were to head back tomorrow and had to choose from one of the courses to play again which one would I pick? I know the answer for me but would love for anyone reading this to go and try both and make that decision for themselves.
Course (Conditions) - 9
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10
Course (Green Condition) - 9
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8
Club Facilities & Clubhouse - 9
Practice Facilities - 9
Friendliness/Hospitality - 9
Pace of Play - 9
Value For Money - 8
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|Brocket Hall Golf Club
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