Golf Course Review of The Berkshire Golf Club (Red & Blue)
The Berkshire Golf Course (Red & Blue)
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: 36 holes of excellent heathland golf in a secluded setting
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.4 (Red), 4.2 (Blue)
A full day of golf (and lunch) at The Berkshire is one of life’s little luxuries and definitely worth saving up for.
Here you will find 36 holes of excellent heathland golf that is played over some wonderful land with many memorable holes amongst a tranquil and secluded setting.
I recently played both courses on the European Amateur Golf Tour so not only did I get to experience both courses in their best condition but also under competitive conditions.
I had previously played the Blue course many years ago so it was nice to be reacquainted with this excellent layout that enjoys some delightful holes, especially on the back nine, and makes a more than solid partner for the superior Red course.
Some people are in fact split on which course they prefer but I thought the Red was a clear notch above its sibling; both created in 1928 by Herbert Fowler.
The best holes on the front nine of the Blue are the opening par three, played over a heroic carry of heather, and the tricky short par four ninth where an approach from 100 yards is often preferable to one from much closer to the lofty green. The holes in between are all solid and require plenty of thought and positional play but lack the undulating ground that the rest of the course has and which brings it alive.
The run of holes from the 11th onwards are really what define the Blue in my eye. They are all energetic holes and there is more going on over this closing stretch than what has gone before it. The 11th is a lovely s-shaped par five whilst the next is one of few holes on the entire property that is played across a side slope and also has a fascinating two-tiered green; high at the front and low at the back.
After a good looking par three a stretch of five par fours, none remotely the same although a right-to-left shape is required on four of them, take you back to the splendid clubhouse.
The Red really picks up where the Blue left off but takes the quality of the holes to another level in my opinion. Arguably the first and last holes on the Red are its worst two but they are both solid holes in their own right. The par five first works well as an opening hole but the last, a smedium length par three, is not a great finisher.
However, between holes two and 17 you are treated to some of the finest golf you will play on the Surrey/Berkshire heathlands.
As you might expect on this superb piece of terrain the par threes, of which there are six, are all very high quality with the second, tenth and 16th the best.
Unusually there are also six par fours and six par fives. And it is this equal distribution of par that helps dictate an exciting tone throughout the round. None of the three-shotters are overly long and as a result even the modest player will be presented with some birdie opportunities. The par fours offer a good variety with a few medium length holes and a couple of longer ones. The sharp dog-legging sixth, the exacting eighth and the uphill curving 12th stood out for me.
The Red course is arguably more scoreable than the Blue and has slightly more width from the tee but this is negligible in the grand scheme of thing. The design and set-up of both courses add to the appeal for an enjoyable day out as opposed to a demanding and mentally draining slog over 36 holes.
As I said earlier I much prefer the Red course but there’s no denying you have 36 holes of high quality heathland golf. However, if you could cherry pick the best 18 holes from across the property you would have a truly world-class course… but I’m inclined to think the way it is works just perfectly.
Two rounds of golf at The Berkshire is certainly one of the finer things in golf. It doesn’t quite match the sparkle of a day at Sunningdale but it’s not too far behind.
Club Website: www.theberkshire.co.uk
Tournaments: Open golf competitions at The Berkshire Golf Club.