Located a mere 20 miles to the north of the capital and close to leafy Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, lies Brocket Hall Golf Club. With two courses named after Prime Ministers who used to reside at Brocket Hall, the Palmerston is the new kid on the block, opening for play in 2000.
Designed by Donald Steel and measuring a whopping 7,080 yards from the championship tees, the Palmerston is a real test. The course winds its way through the undulating estate where majestic specimen trees, including hornbeam, beech and pines create a feeling of intimacy and pose as impressive hazards. Steel’s design philosophy was to provide a top quality course with the least possible intrusion on the site. We think he has exceeded his objective with the Palmerston course and it’s probably just as well, because this is top quality land.
Unlike the older Melbourne course, the River Lea doesn’t come into play on the Palmerston course. Instead, there’s bold bunkering to contend with and, of course, avenues of trees. Steel has created a thinking man and women’s course where the golfer is presented with options. Central bunkers divide the 3rd fairway and the 4th tempts the big hitters to drive left, over a small hollow and across the corner of the dogleg. The short par five 9th is also tempting to attack in two shots, but cleverly positioned greenside bunkers await anything but the best struck approach shot.
Your approach shot on the par four 12th must negotiate an unusual chalk face which lies some 100 yards from the green. This really is a delightful hole, which requires pinpoint accuracy from the tee.
Without doubt, Brocket Hall Golf Club is a classy and stylish place to play golf and the Palmerston course is a delightful contrast to the Melbourne. In many ways the Palmerston is reminiscent and just as good as Woburn’s Marquess course. Add in the famous Auberge du Lac restaurant and you’ve got a tasty venue.
Brocket Hall Golf Club (Palmerston course) was originally nominated as a Gem by Len and David and was added to the site on 22nd March 2005. The Palmerston course has since become a ranked course in our English Top 100. The original nomination comments from Len and David follow:
Len: “With its two championship courses and superb practice facilities Brocket Hall is a great set-up. I have played in excess of 300 courses including over 60 of those featured in the Top 100 and consider the Palmerston course at Brocket Hall to easily rank among the best inland courses in the British Isles.”
David: “Superb tree lined setting, long testing course with good risk and reward holes, stunning.”
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Average Reviewers Score:
Had the pleasure of playing The Palmerstone course with 7 friends on 4th Feb on what proved to be one of the very few non-downpour days so far in 2014. So wet has it been that most other courses in the area were closed, so we weren't sure what to expect. What we weren't expecting for sure though was a course that, other than the odd bunker, showed no sign of the appalling recent weather. Fairways were firm and the greens were as true and as quick as you'd expect in the height of summer. It really was quite remarkable; member's fees are certainly re-invested back into the club, that's for sure.
The course itself is a challenging layout, especially from the back tees. The opening couple of holes lack a little drama but force you to hit long and straight to make par. From there though you enter a succession of holes carved through the forest that are simply stunning and remind one of Woburn, the dogleg par 4 4th hole and sweeping dogleg par 5 6th particularly special. The nine ends with a reachable par 5 but with the green protected by spectacular bunkering you've got to be a special player to even think about going for it.
The back nine starts with a lengthy par 5 before re-entering the forest at the stroke 1 par 4 11th that demands a 250 yard carry just to make the fairway and afford a sight of the pin. The 12th, with the fairway and green separated by a small chalk quarry, is a simply stunning visual hole with the drive genuinely exciting, while the monster par 5 13th that runs along the old wall of the estate is as good a hole as you'll find anywhere, with the green framed by the tall trees. A long downhill par 3 followed by two tree lined par 4's are equally special before a short uphill par 3 sets you up for the finale, a double dogleg par 5 for which the final approach shot to a well guarded green affords views of the beautiful Brocket Hall, it's outbuildings and the broadwater that are such features of Melbourne Course.
Post round the food in, and views from, the clubhouse were cracking and the newly refurbished locker rooms all just added to a great experience. That's before we talk about the practice facilities which surely have to be amongst the best (if not the best) on offer anywhere in the country. This really was winter golf at it's very very best, up there with The Grove in terms of conditioning but all over it in terms of a course with natural beauty. Play it if you can.
I played this for the 2nd time last week as I found that it was one of the those courses that requires a 2nd look before reviewing. The course was presented in good condition with true greens. Its not a difficult test of golf even from the back stones. I think this is more to do with keeping it easier for corporate golf and general speed of play. Fairways are generous and on many holes you could land plane ! That said, there are some good holes, especially the first 6 with some holes through tall pines, well sculpted and picturesque. The back 9 is not as picturesque but there are holes which can give you some trouble if you dont choose the right club off the tee and stay on the right side of the hole. Overall, For the price bracket it is in (4-ball special price worked out 80 quid per person) I think the value is ok and well conditioned. Plus, you have access to possibly the finest practice facilities in Herts.
Played the Palmerston in late April, and when many golf courses are struggling for the condition of their course with the long winter, the Palmerston was in very good condition. There were some parts that had been effected by the vast amounts of water we have seen, but they were few and far between. The greens were in good condition, and ran very smoothly. I was impressed by the variety of the par 5's and the wind made gauging distances with the natural undulation tricky. I would go back and play it again, trying to remember all the places i went wrong previously.
Played both the Palmerston and Melbourne on 23/09/11 for my brothers birthday. Whilst both courses were in immaculate condition, the Palmerston is the clear star for me. The first is a little nondescript, but the rest of the course is a joy, tree lined, secluded (road noise on a couple of holes aside), plenty of elevation changes and the greens were superb. To compare to other UK courses I have played, for me the Palmerston is far superior to the Belfry and the Forest of Arden, slightly better than the Duke's and the equal of the Duchess at Woburn. A word of caution, if you're a mid or high handicapper like me, then this is probably too much course for you, but you will have a fantastic day regardlless. I must also mention the service, which is superb (as you would expect for the money!). The starters on both courses were great, and special mention to James in the pro shop. The practice facilities are the best I have used.
Played here in a society at the end of November, it was a very chilly day - just before the snow hit the UK. We had good breakfast, the starter was very helpful and friendly, in fact the service all round was excellent - as was lunch later that day. The course has a enjoyable variety of holes, especially if you like tree lined fairways. It's hard to believe this course is only 10 years old, as it sits so well in the landscape, it's an outstanding example of sympathetic course design. As others have mentioned the 12th is a very interesting hole with a small 'quarry' in the middle of the fairway to make you choose your club with care The only negative I would mention is bit of road noise from A1 on holes 4 & 13 on the east side Not quite as good a course as Bearwood Lakes or the excellent Druids Glen, but a glorious parkland course none the less, and good experience, I would definitely play it again.
played in late June 2010 after two weeks of sunshine and zero rain - this course was holding up much better than its sister. If you can play just one course here please please avoid all the gimicky water holes and go and play this one. Forget the first two holes, after that each has a little something different and challenging (disclaimer treelined fairways are my personal golfing fetish) There are a lot of of comparisons with the Marquess at Woburn - well i played that last week and from a PLAYING perspective I can understand and fully back this up (this course is prob 90% for me personally) but - AESTHETICALLY - seriously ?? not for me, fairways were patchy with mutiple blobs of grasses and lumps, bumps and looking a shade sorry for themselves. purely to look at, no way its near the quality of some of the rivals mentioned in other reviews - but whatever floats your boat !! great course and a pleasure to play - greens are very naughty , superb quality.
Played here after heavy rainfall but the course drained fantastically well, particularly the greens, you wouldn't have thought it had rained at all. The course itself didn't quite live up to my expections after reading most of the previous reviews on here. There are of course some stand out holes such as 4th,6th,12th and 13th, but also many fairly standard holes. The greens were extremely true and fast for the time of year, but were diseased and looked visually poor. I think the Melbourne course here is superior in terms of excitement and quality of holes. All that said it is still a very good course all in all.
I played the Palmerston this weekend. i have waited to play the course for some time and when the oppertunity arose to play i jumped at it. i must admit i was very dissapointed. maybe it was because of the bad weather we have had recently but the course does not appear to be particularly well maintained and the greens were not great. we did not take advantage of all of the facilities so i cannot really make a judgement on them. the staff however were very good. i will try the course again and hope that i am proved wrong but once again i can only say that the course is at best a good course not what i would consider a great course as your albatross rating would suggest.
A shame that you did not have a great experience. My feeling that it is more down to the time of the year to be honest. I have played a number of decent UK courses in 2010 and they are all looking sorry for themselves - the longest winter for 30+ years has not been kind. If you get to go back to Brocket Hall in the summer, you'll rate the course differently I think, thanks.
I've been fortunate enough to play this course dozens of times since its 2000 opening. Whilst this still demands long straight driiving, its also requires great concentration on the greens where the lines are often optical illusions caused by the superb design. The old maxim of aiming for the tree because you never hit anything you aim at doesn't work here as the one behind is larger still. There a fine welcome back in the clubhouse where the facilities are second to none.
what a delightful course and with some of the best practice facilities in England. The design was naturally flowing with the undulation of the land and there was quite a bit of slope from tee to greens. Its better than Wentworth Edinburgh, Woburn Marquess and Stoke Park Club.
I agree it's a better course than Stoke Park but can't agree it's better than the Edinburgh and Marquess.
03 October 2008
I haven't played Marquess but I agree its better than Edinburgh. Palmerston has natural undulation throughout the course whereas Edinburgh only has for part of it. Palmerston is prettier as well.
14 November 2008
I played Palmerston in November 2007. It was in immaculate condition. I can honestly say it is a splendid course, tough but fair, and ranks in my top 20 ever played.It is an oasis of tranquility too.
Overall, the Palmerston is one of the best new courses that I have played in the last couple of years, and better than the Melbourne. I would rate it in the same league as, but, probably, slightly behind the Edinburgh at Wentworth: in my opinion, both courses are excellent but they have a few weaker holes, unlike, say, Bearwood Lakes, which has 18 excellent holes. However, it is better than the Buckinghamshire. Many people have compared it to Woburn although I suspect it is most like the Marquess, rather than the Duke’s and Duchess (the only ones I have played). It has touches of the Duke’s and Duchess (although with less of the heathland feel) when in the more wooded parts of the course between 3-6 and 12-16, but it is not as intimate or pretty as either overall, although it probably has them beat for conditioning. Also, the course runs alongside the A1M, which provides a lot of background noise in parts, and it is also this area that provides the best holes. Holes 8-11, and the first, are easily the weakest and are of a different feel, more open and parkland, to the rest of the course. The 18th and 7th are also parkland in style, but are better holes.
Without doubt, the course was immaculately presented. This has been one of the worst years in my memory for getting courses up-to-scratch in the early- to mid-Spring season, when many courses are usually emerging from winter much improved during April and with plenty of colour and growth. This year has been a stinker and, talking to many people and reading lots of reviews, and by my own experience, very few courses were in good nick at this time (25 April). Both courses at Brocket were certainly exceptions. The greens and their surrounds were almost velvety in texture and extremely true and consistent. Likewise the fairways – they were a touch long but beautifully consistent and carpet like, and better than most courses at their peak. The greens had been tined and prepared several weeks earlier but they were already smooth and instilled a lot of confidence.
There are some really strong holes on the Palmerston course, the pick of the bunch being par 4s 2, 4 (SI2), 7 and 12 (a really unusual crater-type hollow awaits if you are too long off the tee or mess up your approach). Holes 15 and 16 were also nice tree-lined holes in the lower part of the course, although I am struggling to remember them as they were very similar. There are 2 very nice par 3s, the 5th and the 14th, both being very similar downhill holes facing the same direction, although 14 is the longer. I thought the other two par 3s (8 and 17) were quite average. Two of the best holes on the course were par 5s: 6 and 13. Hole 6 goes uphill and left at the top before falling down into the valley and rising back up to a raised green: positioning is crucial throughout, as the hole is also cut from the forest, and will punish any errant shot. The 13th is one of the most intimidating, long and difficult par 5s I have played, which is reflected in its SI3 rating – I think it was the most difficult hole on the course: the drive and approach shots are very tight and at over 550 yards even from the yellow, you can’t afford to play too cautiously if you want to get up in three; with a well-bunkered approach, I can’t see too many people reaching in two.
The course is a good challenge and is well designed with plenty of variety with some quite strategic holes. The bunkering could have been a touch more strategic (or intrusive) to tighten things up a bit but, overall, a very fair and varied challenge that will reward good, straight, golf. The setting of an ancient aristocratic estate lends itself to creating a special aura or ambience. While this was certainly true, I didn’t get the same sense of occasion as some places when driving in, for instance Stoke Park – although this is a better course than Stoke – or Wentworth. It is a long drive into the estate with plenty of speed bumps; you pass several buildings and estate cottages and it takes a while to wind your way through to the walled car park – it is then a further trot past the on-site car valeting service to the court-yarded pro shop and entrance to the club house.
The club house was nice, although it did feel a little bit on the corporate side and none of the staff were particularly chatty or welcoming, which contrasts with, say, the reception my party received at St George’s Hill where the Marshall/ Starter welcomed us over coffee and outlined the plans – times/ layout/ payments/ sandwich selection for lunch/ tips etc. Nevertheless, it was not bad, just not as special as it could have been. The food – breakfast/ lunch and dinner – was OK/ not bad, but again, nothing fantastic. The one place I thought looked really special and gave off a real sense of style and occasion was the highly acclaimed Auberge du Lac restaurant, which sits on the banks of the river opposite the clubhouse and in-between the bridge where you drive in and the bottom of the 18th hole on the Melbourne, near the ferry – it is the most delightful looking building, formerly a 17th century hunting lodge – doubtless the meals are not cheap! The visitors changing rooms were small with few lockers and not very appealing compared to what you might expect, but were functional with showers and towels provided.
Overall, our visit lacked the personal touch in the clubhouse and the pro shop, although the starter was friendly. In conclusion, the course is well worth playing if you get a chance, as they don’t take casual visitors, only societies. At a guess, in my experience, it is not a top 100 course but a ranking of around 150-200 in GB & Ireland seems about right, maybe slightly higher due to its exceptional conditioning. PN, Wokingham.
Played the Palmerston last week for the first time, one of the best golf facilities i have played anywhere, the course itself is a fair but tough test for all standards even higher handicappers, off the back tees it feels very playable for 12 and unders.
The greens are very receptive and putt true if you can read the subtle lines, it does have some elements of Woburn and will give some tricky stances, use a buggy with the satelite yardages screen for the full experience.
I've played Wentworth, Sunningdale, Woodhall Spa. Show me a better parkland course than this. It is exceptional and you just can't believe its a young course. Its carved out of the woods with great quality undulating fairways and beautiful greens. Get there if you can play it. This course will be famous. And you heard it here first!
If you like tree lined fairways you'll love this course. Tough approach shots into the greens made all the more difficult due to the undulations in the fairways. Better players will probably perfer this course to the Melbourne. There are more hills on this course than the Melbourne so if you are lucky enough to play both courses in one day, play the Palmerston first and enjoy a more leisurely game on the Melbourne in the afternoon. One word sums up the Palmerston however: Quality.
Billed as the second and newer course at Brocket but this could easily be the pick of the two for some. Very Woburnesque in places (which is always a plus point) and also very fair. Undulating fairways of Augusta proportions make the buggy option the best way to get around. The par 5 6th is a cracker of a hole, treelined dog-legging left to a raised green. There are many ‘wow’ holes on the course that will stay in your mind for years - Playing golf Brocket Hall is a treat of the highest order.
Why do I like it so much? For a start it is in a beautiful setting - some holes lined by majestic pine trees, or mature beech, hornbeam and sweet chestnuts, and others with commanding views from the high points over rolling Hertfordshire countryside and woods. Each hole is very individual and varied - uphill, downhill, dogleg right, dogleg left and only two holes on level ground. The greens are undulating and with a multitude of possible pin positions the shot on to the green is always challenging. One could never get bored playing it. And it’s a fair golf course, which will reward you when you play the right shot.
What's nice about the Melbourne and Palmerston courses at Brocket Hall is that they are both very different in character. The older Melbourne is more open with 4 holes playing over the river with the Hall itself very much in view. The Palmerston on the other hand has a number of holes carved directly through the forest, giving it the feel of a course that's been around for 50 years or more. On both courses, the different tee positions help to change the nature of the course, and with the elements coming into play, it's unusual to find yourself playing a particular hole in exactly the same way as you did last time. Both courses are generally in very good condition with no winter greens, and barely any winter tees, so its always a true test.
I have only played the Palmerston course and I have to say that it is good...very good in fact. In many ways it's reminiscent to the Marquess course at Woburn. Everything about Brocket oozes quality, it's a stylish place that comes highly recommended.
Not played the older course but the new Palmerston is fantastic. Some amazing old trees are on the course and when I played it a few months after being opened on a wet April day the course was immaculate. Membership here is serious wedge but considering what you can pay for a day's golf at some places this is almost tempting. Up there in my favourite ever parkland courses.