With two very enjoyable courses that are surprisingly different from one another, Essendon makes for an excellent golfing venue as Rob Smith discovers…

Essendon Country Club Course Review

Blessed with a characterful clubhouse and not one but two fine courses, Essendon Country Club enjoys a pleasingly rural location in the wilds of Hertfordshire. Think of the M25 as a clockface, and Essendon is five miles to the north of midnight.

The club has already been recognised by Golf England, and what is remarkable is that although the two courses are both parkland, they are actually very different in nature. Rather than a full account of all 36 holes, I have simply picked out three from each nine which will hopefully whet the appetite.

New Course

A quite unusual feature of the New Course is that almost all of the holes have two greens – effectively meaning that main greens can be in play all year, as well as offering the chance to play roughly the same hole in a completely different fashion on a different occasion!

The opening hole on the New is a fine-looking par 4 that sets the scene well

The New runs on land to the north of the clubhouse and the Old.

The par 5 fourth is a staggering 644 yards from the back… the yellows a mere 556!

Water comes into play regularly throughout the round, especially at the short 8th hole.

The lovely par-3 eighth – and no, there is nothing wrong with the photo, there was the oddest cloud formation

Par for the New Course is 73 and it is made up of four short holes and five par 5s.

The short par-4 fifteenth plays round (or into!) a lovely pond

There is a particularly strong finish with water lining the closing two holes – the 17th, an attractive and tough par 4…

Seventeen is another attractive dogleg, this time right to left

… and the 18th, recently lengthened to a challenging par 5 with new bunkering.

The New closes with a fine driving hole that has recently been lengthened to a par 5

Old Course

The Old dates back to 1976 and was designed by Fred Hawtree.

The par-3 second is played from an elevated tee

Once again the par is 72, but this time there are five par 3s and five three-shotters.

The green at the long sixth is well-protected

The 8th is a longish par 4 which somehow I managed to birdie, thus proving that miracles do happen.

It takes two good blows to hit the SI 1 eighth in regulation

My favourite hole on the entire complex is the long 10th on the Old which is played from an elevated tee, calls for a long drive and a very accurate approach.

The par-5 tenth is a gem, strategically and visually

There are three par 5s in four holes at the start of the back nine, and two short holes in the last four with the 15th another where length varies greatly depending on the tee.

Hole fifteen is played over a water hazard

Beware of the beautiful specimen tree that guards the 16th fairway and the diagonal bunkers that protect the 17th green, and the course finishes with a manageable short hole that will offer the chance of a birdie.

The final hole on the Old Course is an attractive par 3

The holes I have included are not necessarily the best, they are simply a cross section based on the photos I took on the day. Nor do the photos or indeed my words explain accurately how different the two courses are. I think there is only one way to find out for yourself!