Hertfordshire is not necessarily known as one of England’s most blessed counties when it comes to golf but Jack Nicklaus II has done a fantastic job in creating an American-style championship parkland course at Hanbury Manor. Opened in 1991, Hanbury hosted the men’s English Open and women’s European Open several times in the 1990s and is renowned for the speed and quality of its greens. Regardless of the time of year, the putting surfaces seem to be better than anywhere around.
The course is very much laid out in two halves, though one thing both parts have in common is plenty of water. It begins on open, sloping land with an intriguing and drivable short 4 which has a choice of fairways should you choose to lay up.
It’s obviously very welcome to have such an outstanding hole so early in your round, but it almost seems a shame that this hole does not arrive later in the test, when the state of the match, or your scorecard, might influence your decision to stick or twist.
The back nine is flatter than the front side and meanders around the hotel amid lots of mature woodland. This older part of the course is based on an original nine-hole design that was the work of Harry Vardon.
When the pros played here the scoring was often very low – and this is testament to the presentation of the course and quality of the greens. Needless to say, the five-star Marriott hotel offers fantastic accommodation.
Regardless of the time of year, the putting surfaces seem to be better than anywhere around. The course is very much laid out in two halves, though one thing both parts have in common is plenty of water.
2nd 560 yards, par 5
Played downhill from the tee, there is the temptation for the bigger hitters to give your drive that little bit more and bring the green within range in two. But with water short and right and plenty of bunkers, whether coming in with a wood or a wedge the green is notoriously difficult to hit and hold as it is set at an angle to the fairway.
13th 414 yards, par 4
The tee shot is the easier part of the hole, but the further you can hit it the less intimidating the approach is to a thin, long green with water to the right. Make a par here and you can feel very happy with yourself.
17th 496 yards, par 5
Another risk-and-reward par 5, it offers a late chance to redeem your scorecard. The fairway is pretty generous so open your shoulders and there is no reason you can’t look at attacking the green in two – the only problem being that doing so can result in finding another watery grave.
01920 487 722