Open since the summer of 2013, Centurion can be found in St Albans not too far from the junction with the M1. The name reflects historical associations with the Roman era. Centurion’s ethos is all about making members and guests feel special. That starts from the moment you take the clubs out of the boot. The new clubhouse is more hotel and boutique than golf venue and, while that made me feel very slightly self-conscious as I bowled into the shop to pick up a souvenir ball marker, there’s no denying it oozes quality.
The upstairs restaurant, Galvin at Centurion, is the latest venture of Michelin-starred chefs Chris and Jeff Galvin. I can confirm the sausage sandwich was very agreeable.
One of the more unique touches was in the comfortable locker room, where bottles of spirit were sitting in many of the member’s individual stations. Out on the course, you’ll encounter a clear contrast. The opening five holes weave their way through pine woodland before the course moves into an open setting – defined by tall wispy grasses and changes in elevation.
A return to the woods provide a natural bookend as you conclude your round and it’s hard not to be inspired as you wander through those elements of course architect Simon Gidman’s plan. The change, however, from the almost claustrophobic woods to what is essentially a wide-open space is nothing if not striking.
After setting your stall out with accuracy and care early on in the round you must adopt a different tactic to prevail in this new environment.
Centurion’s halfway house, which is more restaurant than hut, is ideally placed flanking the 8th and 10th tees. You can have a pit stop and then another before you attack the back 9 or you can order on the 8th and pick it up as you swing back round.
With the course not the usual two loops we see in so many new designs, it is a very clever feature. Several sets of tees also allow you to play to your ability rather than be round pegged into a golfing square hole.