The enchanting Ashridge Golf Club is set amongst thousands of acres of National Trust-owned woodland. The scene is set as you drive to the clubhouse. The long approach road takes you through parts of the ancient Ashridge estate, giving you a fleeting glimpse of the 8th and 9th holes between the beautiful mature trees (more about the 9th later).
Founded in 1932, Ashridge was originally designed by Sir Guy Campbell, Major C K Hutchison and Woodhall Spa’s Colonel Hotchkin. Around 1939, Tom Simpson made a few minor but significant changes. These architects made perfect use of Ashridge’s gently undulating land and inherent natural beauty. The great Sir Henry Cotton was club pro in the late thirties and during his time at Ashridge, he won the 1937 Open at Carnoustie.Alex Hay was also another famous Ashridge pro, staying here for twelve years from 1964.
Par 3s are very strong at Ashridge, with prominent bunkering providing clear definition from the tees. There is a noticeable split between the front and back nine (par 35 & par 37) and the inward nine plays significantly harder than the shorter par 35 outward nine. Accuracy, rather than length from the tee, especially at the turn, will be rewarded and mistakes will invariably be punished.At first glance, the greens at Ashridge appear fairly flat, but do not be fooled as there are many subtle borrows, leaving you questioning your eyesight. These greens are very tough cookies to read. The only minor criticism is that there is currently only one genuine three shot hole (15th) and that, too, is relatively short. The plus side is that there are birdies on offer, but the birdie opportunities are likely to be short-lived. Ashridge is in the process of extending two par fives (5th and 13th), by approximately 50 yards each.
Ashridge was one of the very first private clubs to pioneer “society days” by welcoming groups of visiting golfers; the club continues this approach to the present day. Societies are treated as day members and many groups return year after year because a warm welcome is guaranteed. The club does not insist on visitors using the red and yellow tees. The whites can be used if desired, leaving the choice to the player and not the club.There are three starting points (1st, 10th and 13th) all within 50 yards of each other, close to the new clubhouse. These loops of holes make up the “clover leaf” shaped layout of the course and provide a number of options for players not wanting to play a full round.
Probably the most memorable hole is the par four 9th (stroke index 7). It’s not a long hole, measuring 337 yards from the yellow tee but the drive is to a blind landing area and the approach shot must carry across a valley to a kidney-shaped plateau green below – four is a great score here. This hole is affectionately named ‘Cottons’ after the great man.
We played Ashridge in early February 2004 after the most awful snow and rain but the course was in good condition and still looked a perfect picture. The freshness of spring and the autumn colours at Ashridge are breathtaking.Oh, and keep an eye out for the deer. They have life membership and a habit of grazing to the right of the 17th hole.
We will let Bernard Darwin bring Ashridge to a close: “The romantic and traditional names have not been lost. Witchcraft Bottom and Nob’s Crook, Thunderdell – a wood of splendid beeches where blasted trunks bear witness to its evil reputation; Princes Riding – a long avenue with a stately monument at the end of it; were there ever more thrilling names? Today they have been transferred to appropriate holes upon the course, and the holes are worthy of the names.”
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Average Reviewers Score:
Ashridge enjoys the benefits of a luxury that (other Hertforshire) courses such as The Grove lack: time to bed in and mature. This is greatly enhanced by the mature woodland around the course adding to the tranquillity of its rural setting. The result is a course with a strong identity and cohesive feel although on the front nine I was struck by similarities with Hindhead’s welcoming valley fairways and the delightful aesthetics of Worplesdon. The course layout offers a variety of starting points around the clubhouse so the friendly starter allowed me to commence play from the 10th to save time. The course has a good mix of flatter and undulating holes with greens that are good to putt on even in October: no doubt helped by the heat wave of late summer 2011. The green settings are also well considered with the 14th a standout for me with its multi-tiered putting surface tricking the eye from a distance, with a left side pin placement – hard by a greenside bunker, and a steep run-off – likely to reduce the likelihood of par. Ashridge is enjoyable because tee shots do not require a do or die approach so driving ability will not necessarily determine one’s final score, so players of all levels can tailor their approach to maximise their score. The fairways are generous so losing a ball should be infrequent, but approaching from the correct side is important. Approach shots require a mixture of precision and good strategy. If starting from the 1st, the 17th and 18th holes will provide a tough finish for the first-timer, due to the need to pick the correct combination of line and distance. I can see why Ashridge has commanded a higher ranking in the past.
A truly wonderful setting and a great venue for a society day, as your score is likely to be flattered off the yellow tees. This is a very pretty course with a gorgeous modern clubhouse and we had a warm welcome from everyone there, and they do a rather good lunch. The greens were in very good nick and pretty fast, in fact the whole course was in great shape, especially the tee boxes which were immaculate, these guys really take care of their course. There are also excellent practice facilities here. One of my playing partners was allowed to bring his dog with him, and I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny summer's day than walking around this lovely parkland course with deer aplenty to see.
After playing here I am surprised that this is rated at no.58, for me it isn't as good as many of the courses that are ranked below. Its very short of the yellow's and the par 5's are reachable in 2 with an iron approach shot so good for scoring! On our visit the greens were poor very slow and not true and the welcome we received wasn't the best in the clubhouse. Some nice holes the best being the 9th and 18th in front of the lovely clubhouse. It was a nice course to play, but for me its punching above its weight.
I have to agree in the main with your comments - although when i have played it i have always been impressed with the welcome. For me if you are in the area the best courses are Moor Park and Berkhamsted.
10 May 2010
I disagree, I played here for the third time a couple of weeks ago and the condition of the course was fantastic. It is one of the best parkland courses for £25 around. Looking forward to playing it again on the 5th.
25 July 2010
Perhaps Ashridge gives a false impression to society and other visitors... a shame they cannot experience the course from the black tees when the wind blows - then 4, 12 and 14 are cracking par 4's and the par 5's show their teeth. All the par 3's are transformed into real tests and when the greens are at medal speed. slow is not the adjective to use, although the language may become florid when you `de-green' ! A fantastic course.
16 August 2010
I agree...this course is very very beautiful, but when we played last week, the greens were impeccable!!! For me though, the welcome was not great....the pro shop was fantastic and Pearce (the starter) was a brilliant bloke, but the club Captain was a very rude man indeed, (he was the guy shouting at us for holding his game up; it seems we should have ignored the fact that we had a couple ahead of us who had lost their ball, therefore holding us up) and who then complained about us to the starter, probably in the hope of getting us removed from the course. Great course, but we certainly won't be spending another £130 for the pleasure of being abused on the course by a self important upstart of a gentleman (pa!)
18 July 2011
I think we met the same guy as David! Ruined our experience!
What a cracking course, probably the best parkland course I have played. I played here on Saturday morning with a member for £25, the greens were quick and true and the course was immaculate, the quality of the sand in the bunkers was very high. Highlight of the day was when we were playing our second shot on the 5th and eleven deer ran out in front of us and sprinted down the fairway in single file and back towards the tee, not a sight I'd expect to see on the golf course!
The course is set in a National Trust estate and you can see the castle and a tree lined walkway up to the Bridgewater Monument from the 16th tee. The clubhouse is fantastic and when you drive in you can tell you'll be in for a treat.
I especially enjoyed holes 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 12, 16, 17, 18. BB.
Ashridge is a great course. Very mature, interesting holes, a reasonable length off the whites all though I was able to reach all the par 5's in two so no very long holes. (Anyone else find courses seem very short of the yellows these days)? The par 3's are of a good length too. Often you find a couple fitted in at 120 yards of something.
It is a peaceful and quite course with some nice views and some lovely properties to view as you go round. The course makes good use of the gradient available which is nice to see.
Only gripe would be with the greens. To be fair there weather the day before was appalling and we were warned that the greenkeeper was not able to do his usual work on them. Even so I found the pace to be inconsistent throughout the round. They are on the whole quite flat too. No very large borrows anywhere, just subtle breaks.
Nice clubhouse too and lunch was excellent.
Overall not amazing but a lovely old school golf course its well worth visiting if you get the chance.
The course is situated in a beautiful location with an impressive clubhouse and very warm welcome from both staff and members. The course is very well designed and we found it in excellent condition, in late July 2008, except for the greens which were a little woolly and slow. Unfortunately, and like many ‘traditional’ golf clubs, as visitors we were only allowed to play from the yellow tees. As a single figure handicap player I do find this very frustrating and it detracts from the overall enjoyment of the course especially when all the members around us were playing off the white tees, whilst hitting six irons into par 5’s does wonders for your score it makes a nonsense of the hole design. Ashridge is well worth a visit and it is unfortunate that it has caught my general rant on yellow tees and visitors.
The greenkeepers at Ashridge know how to present a classic course! The bunkers are beautifully rugged, in the style of the original designers and the turf is always firm and keen. Some of the more famous clubs in England could learn a lot from these guys. As for the course, it's charmingly graceful and fits the land like a silk glove. Best holes: 2,4,5,6,9,11,12,13,14,17,18
Played this course in July 2007. From the moment I turned into the drive I knew that Ashridge was something special. The clubhouse was superb, offering good facilities and excellent views of the course, there were also more than adequate practice facilities before stepping onto the course. The course was in fabulous condition from Tee to Green and then once on the greens they were found to be true and fast. The course is tree-lined and offers a stern test of your golfing ability, it is not a simple grip it and rip it course. Once off the course the clubhouse offers excellent food, all in all I had a truly fabulous day at Ashridge and I challenge anyone not to say the same.
Ashridge is one of the most beautiful golf courses I’ve played and it blends nature and golf together in an agreeable manner. The course itself is not the sternest test, nor is it especially strategic but it’s fun and sheer enjoyment for the average golfer and low man alike. There’s a hint of the Surrey sandbelt courses here but with very little heather as the trees have taken over. Key to scoring well is accuracy off the tee as the trees are predominant and will quickly result in a dropped shot. A lovely selection of par threes are eclipsed by the short par four 9th which is peerless. I’ve played here on a number of occasions and each time deer have been roaming the fairways. They seem very brave, especially when I’m standing on the tee! Ashridge is as pretty as a picture and is best experienced in late spring when the rhododendrons are in full bloom. The setting is quite simply gorgeous.
What a delightful course, so expertly laid out to take full advantage of the terrain and superb countryside. In my mind no one hole stands out more than the rest because they are all of such a high standard. The clubhouse was lovely and we were given a warm welcome, sadly lacking at other 'traditional' clubs. Highly recommended.