Feature Essendon Country Club
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook
Set in the heart of the Hertfordshire countryside, Essendon Country Club (formely known as The Hatfield London Country Club) offers its 800+ members and visitors alike pure golfing delight. With two 18 hole championship length golf courses, a 9 hole pitch and putt as well as grass practice areas, hot spa and sauna, warm friendly bar and a members' dining area, Essendon really stands out as one of Hertfordshire's very best.
Essendon features two courses that Matt played on the same day. The Old Course is a mature undulating parkland course with tight tree lined fairways and natural hazards and the New Course is unique in the fact that 16 of the 18 holes has two different greens allowing for the opportunity of different lengths and difficulty. See how Matt got on.
The long drive from the main gate to the carpark, passing through a section of the course really whets the appetite. It's not quite Magnolia Lane but it will most definitely set the juices flowing.
A very warm welcome received in the pro shop/reception. A small but well stocked selection of golfing accessories and some reasonably priced branded garments are available for all visitors.
A second friendly welcome will be received when you head up to the starter's hut and you will be pointed in the direction of the correct first tee depending on which course you have the luck of playing.
The Old Course
The two par 3's (five in total) that will really stick out are the 2nd and 18th.
Whilst playing down hill, the 2nd hole I'm sure could ruin a score before it has even got going.
Playing a full 200 yards to a narrow green with a bunker short right waiting to catch anything astray, its could really be a brutal hole to tackle so early in your round.
The 18th is of similar length, 213 yards, again downhill but this time bunkers on either side of the green at the front and the false back if your long. Club selection is key depending on the wind direction to ensure a steady finish.
Incredible variation amongst the par 4's on The Old Course. Ranging in length from 340 yards to 432 yards every one will have something different to offer.
The 7th is a demanding tee shot over an intimidating pond. The 8th approach will be long and tough into a well guarded green. The 14th, the shortest, is attackable - as long as you dont find yourself in the well positioned bunker which in out of sight from the tee and the 16th, the stand out hole due to the tall powerful looking oak tree which proudly sits in the middle of the fairway is a thing of beauty.
The par 4's in the main are demanding, but you will enjoy every single one of them!
Three par 5's in a four hole stretch 10, 12 and 13 could potentially make or break a score.
Whilst not massive in length 465, 517 and 474 respectively each one will offer a different challenge.
The 10th tee shot, over the large pond, is OOB right. The 12th green (doubled green with the 3rd hole) has, in total, four tiers to it. Though three would possibly come into play on the 12th you wouldn't fancy the putt from top to bottom if you had the length to get on in two!
To finish the trio, the 13th, again varies. Whilst longer hitters might fancy this in two, the mortals that will be laying up leaves a decisions to make, Short of the ditch running across the fairway will leave a longer, uphill (and blind) approach to the green. If you want to take this option out of the equation then make sure you have enough club!
The New Course
The stand out of the four par 3's has to be the 8th hole. One of the two holes on The New Course with just the one green (the other being the opener) the 8th is unique in the sense that it plays with two different tee boxes.
As close to an island green as you get this beauty will play downhill into a short and wide green from 99 yards or long but narrow from 146. Both will make you think about the correct club before even taking the wet stuff into consideration.
As all the holes on The New Course can play to different length the best thing about them is that there is a 'Good' or 'Bad' green. The approaches will always be different and placement from the tee will be key depending on which green is the target.
Long drives will be required on 6, 7, 10 and the mammoth 18th. Whilst irons might be the smart play on the 5th, 14th and 15th to stay away from danger.
The 7th has a fair amount of water to cover from the tee if you want a shorter second shot, and the 17th into the left hand green has to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing approach shots in Hertfordshire, let alone the course.
The 12th stands out for its length, all 580 yards of it, but also similar to the 16th on The Old Course the tall large impending oak tree hanging around in the middle of the fairway will probably become an obstacle for most second shots making a five a good score.
The 4th hole, however, is a golfer's dream. 573 yards is long. Not PGA Tour long but it's long. As the hole play downhill away from you during the summer months this could be a massive risk or reward hole as anything straight will bound on and on and makes the hole very reachable. However, water is lurking, waiting to gobble up anything short so club up and be bold!
The courses at Essendon are both as close to perfect as you'd find. Rarely would you visit a club with two 18 hole courses of such high quality and playability all year round. A mention must go to the green staff who clearly work tirelessly to keep the courses in perfect condition. I'm led to believe each course has its own green team and the competition between the two teams probably spurs them on to making both immaculate.
The starters and marshals definitely add to the experience and keep play moving. On this note I wanted to mention something that I had never experienced before at any golf course. Clocks on every third or forth hole are set to the accepted pace of play, so if you are keeping the correct pace every time you come across a clock you should see the time showing as your original tee time.
The food and drink on offer were of high quality, as we took our seats a member of the bar staff came to us to take our order! I can't remember the last time that had happened. Not only was the food good it was also reasonably priced which can be something of a rarity at such a establishment.
The entire place oozes class.
Essendon offers excellent playability all year round. The New Course, with its doubled green option, will probably hold up better in the winter but both courses will still be in exceptional condition.
I would grab every and any chance I could to get back and do it over and over and over again.
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|Essendon Country Club (Hatfield London)
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