For the first time in almost 100 years, the classic English inland tournament course at Berkhamsted Golf Club will play differently this season.
But golfing purists needn’t worry: the club has simply ‘reversed its nines’ so that players returning after the recent lockdown can enjoy a stronger start and finish to their rounds.
The reversal is the only major change to Berkhamsted’s 6,683 yard Par 71 golf course since James Braid last redesigned it in 1926, upgrading the course from Willie Park Jnr and Harry Colt’s original designs.
Only Berkhamsted members can experience the re-routed golf course for now, with guest rounds starting on 26th April, but from Monday 5th July all golfers can visit the hallowed grounds and test their game on the historic England Golf Championship venue’s fine heathland turf.
Berkhamsted’s first is now a picturesque 194-yard Par Three over water to a well-guarded green – a much stiffer test than the gentle Par Four opener the club used to have.
The famously bunker-free Berkhamsted thus joins a short list of other notable English golf courses with Par Three starts, including Royal Lytham & St Anne’s, Walton Heath (Old), Southport & Ainsdale, Liphook, North Hants and Hayling Island.
From the 15th there is now a memorable four-hole closing stretch finishing with a dog-leg Par Four from an elevated tee with a tempting view of the clubhouse. It’s a spectator-friendly end to the round.
In other words, it’s now exactly how all 18th holes should be.
Club Captain Ian Carlile said: “For those of us who have been here for years, playing Berkhamsted ‘the wrong way round’ did initially feel strange! But our old 18th used to end way out of sight of the clubhouse, whereas the new routing now creates the proper amount of drama and atmosphere.
“Not only can people now enjoy a drink, some food and good company at Berkhamsted while watching others end their rounds –as is the case at most golf clubs – but also our final four holes are now highly distinctive, much more so than the original Braid routing from 1926” he said.
After a spectacularly successful recent irrigation project, visitors to Berkhamsted this season will also enjoy better playing surfaces including improved greens and approaches.
Additional touches of quality such as new growth around the tees, and all-new signage to help newcomers find their way around also contribute to the new welcome at Berkhamsted Golf Club this summer.
Elite golfers will get their first chance to try the revised layout in competition when the club’s famous Berkhamsted Trophy, the traditional season-opener for men’s elite golf, transitions to a gender-neutral event in 2022, after being postponed for two successive seasons owing to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Berkhamsted Golf Club is laid out on common land in Hertfordshire’s largest expanse of natural gorse and heather, with over five miles of bridleways and pathways running throughout the golf course and its huge 560-acre estate, full of natural beauty.
Situated on a densely-wooded hilltop above the medieval market town of Berkhamsted, the golf club is situated north west of central London, close to the western boundary of Hertfordshire. Easily accessible from the A41, five miles west of Hemel Hempstead and just 15 minutes from M1 Junction 8 (St Albans), Berkhamsted’s unforgettable 18 holes are a magnet for golfing connoisseurs from across Great Britain, Ireland and Europe.