Golf Course Review of Thorndon Park Golf Club
Thorndon Park Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: High quality parkland golf
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.0
Essex is a county with many golf courses but it is not really renowned for having any venues near the top of the pyramid when it comes to discussing the best of golf in Great Britain.
I’m ashamed to say this was my first ever round of golf in Essex but it would appear that Thorndon Park, designed by Harry Colt in 1920, is the needle in the haystack.
Hidden away on some lovely golfing turf close to Brentwood a round here delivers some of the best park golf you will find in England.
As with most courses of this nature there is a lot of sedate stuff going on but there are flashes of excellence throughout the round too which more than merit a quick detour off the M25.
Covering almost 250 acres the site is actually an ancient deer park and the rolling nature of the property provides for some fine holes at this established private-members club.
Green sites at the seventh and 17th are particularly pleasing to the eye, as well as your golfing imagination, whilst the fourth and eighth also make for wonderful approach shots. The Palladian mansion of Thorndon Hall acts as the most wonderful backdrop to the final hole and adds to the sense of nobility.
From the tee the course is relatively straightforward. There are a couple of blind drives and a similar number that crest a gentle hill whilst the heroic tee-shot over water at the third is the most exciting. A word of caution at the fourth- where one must lay-up short of an angled stream - would be to take even less club than you initially think because everything feeds down towards it.
The cross bunkering at the 13th is quite unusual and a little out of place compared to the rest of the hazard placement. There’s no sense in trying to carry them from the tee and I suspect they’ll mostly catch out shorter hitters with their second shot although there is a double punishment there because there is also a large bunker on the short, right-side of the fairway.
The set of short holes don’t feature close to the top of Colt’s best but they are all varied; a heavily bunkered green at the second, a deceptive two-level green at the fifth, an uphill approach to a small putting surface at the 12th and a demanding shot over an attractive pond at the 15th.
Meanwhile, the pick of the par fives is the ninth; a hole that slithers over the landscape through an avenue of trees towards an angled green. This hole, and many others, reminded me very much of King’s Lynn in Norfolk.
Everything adds up to a par of 71 and a yardage of 6,511 from the white tees.
The greens, though recently hollow-tined and lightly sanded, held enough interest and despite heavy overnight rain the courses remained firm; it was noticeable that a lot of drainage work had been undertaken on the approaches to some greens. It jury obviously remains out as to how the course will play in winter but the signs are promising.
Like most inland courses there are far too many trees encroaching on several holes nowadays and whilst the course pleasingly retains good width for the most part it would be even better should a lot of the clutter be removed to highlight a variety of specimen and unusual trees. There are many examples but the rising eighth in particular would be a glorious looking par-four if there were much less timber.
All considered I enjoyed my round at Thorndon Park; it was especially nice to see the ball get such a big and high bounce on the fairways. The £80 green-fee is a bit over priced but I suspect The Club neither seek nor require much visitor play.
From a golfing perspective (heading down from the North) I’d always recommend driving round the M25 in an anti-clockwise direction towards Surrey but should you find yourself on the East side of the London Orbital I can think of few better places to play.
Club Website: www.thorndonparkgolfclub.com
Tournaments: Open golf competitions at Thorndon Park Golf Club.
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