The region stretches from Henley-on-Thames and then north-east to Marlow, Amersham, Berkhamsted, leapfrogs over Luton and finishes in Hitchin. A drive in the countryside will take you through villages like Hambledon and Aldbury with traditional brick and flint cottages. If you visit one of the village pubs expect a fire, a dog and muddy walking boots by the door. These two Victorian towns are a good base from which to get out there and play some golf. They?ve clung to their character, holding out against urbanization to keep some old skool charm.
The heavily wooded Chiltern Forest near Aylebury offers awesome value. Little Hay, a fifteen minute drive from Berkhamsted, is popular municipal course in good shape and has a variety of testing holes. Booking a tee time at the weekend is a must as it gets busy. On the same road, Boxmoor, is a tough nine hole layout with an 80 foot drop from the tee to green on the 9th.
If you want to splash the cash, Ashridge (pictured) in the heart of the National Trust estate is beautiful. Deer dash across the dense wooded fairways, able to nip out the way of any low flying golf balls. Last year the course was an Open qualifier, but if you manage to stay out of the woods, you?ll probably score well. The 14th has a tough sloping green, with a lipped bunker directly behind, so make sure your second isn?t too strong.
And if you find that bunkers can ruin an otherwise decent score, get yourself a tee time at Berkhamsted Golf Club, a short drive from Ashridge. The course doesn?t have any bunkers ? easy. Well, no actually. Gorse comes into play on most holes and you?ll need to make a few scary carries. Don’t bother looking your ball if you don’t quite make the fairway- it?s a potentially painful and fruitless task. The 18th isn?t for the faint hearted either, as it requires a carry over a road.
If you follow the canal south of Berkhamsted you?ll pass through The Grove, which is one of the best new courses anywhere. Keep your cool on the greens as the ball has a tendency to glide past the hole and into the distance. The course, designed by Kyle Phillips of Kingsbarns fame, is in immaculate condition – long and challenging. The hotel which was only completed last year has some top quality facilities. In nearby Watford Top Golf is worth a visit. More than just a driving range your ball is micro-chipped so distances can be measured.
In the Southern Chilterns bird lovers will enjoy Harleyford and Temple near Marlow where Red Kites soar above the fairway. Part of the beautiful Harleyford Estate, Harleyford is a Donald Steel designed course meanders through parkland, featuring large greens. Look out for the temple by the 15th tee, and finish your round with a drink in the bar, which has an interesting mediaeval theme.
Where to Stay
Stocks (01442 851 341; www.stockshotel.co.uk) is a Georgian mansion in the heart of the Chilterns and a short walk from the pretty village of Aldbury. Rooms from £75. The Grove (01923 807 807; www.thegrove.co.uk) is a new hotel with a stunning spa and excellent restaurants. Rooms from £240. For Berkhamsted try The Kings Arms (01442 886 595) rooms from £65 or The Penny Farthing (01442 872 828) rooms from £55. For Marlow the best hotel is the Compleat Angler (0870 400 8100) golf breaks from £248pp. Visit www.thecompleatangler.com for details of more places to stay in The Chilterns.
Where to play
Tel: 01442 842 244
Green Fees: £43. Visitors Mon-Fri only, subject to availability
Tel: 01442 865 832
Green Fees: £37-£45. Visitors after 11.30am at the weekend.
Tel: 01442 833 798
Green Fees: £14-18.
Tel: 01923 807 807
Green Fees: £45-£130
Tel: 01923 222 045
Green Fees: £2.40-£4.80 per game
Tel: 01442 242 434
Green Fees: £8-£10. Visitors welcome anytime, but call to find out tournament times.
Tel: 01626 816 161
Green Fees: £30-£65
Tel: 01628 824 248
Green Fees: £30-£55