Renowned for its firm fairways and quick greens, Luffenham Heath is a real thinking-man’s course and requires accuracy and good ball striking throughout the round. The rough is thick and hard to escape and only shots from the short stuff are likely to hold the greens, which puts a premium on straight hitting. It is remarkable how often Harry Colt and prime tracts of English heathland came into contact with each other a century or so ago – and the Golden Age designer’s legacy remains to this day in the shape of special courses like Luffenham Heath.
‘Multum in parvo’, or much contained in a small package, is the motto of England’s smallest county, Rutland. The same description works perfectly with Luffenham Heath, by some distance its finest course.
Since Colt’s layout opened in 1911, it has been modified by James Braid, between the wars, and then superficially, according to the club, by Cameron Sinclair, Donald Steel and CK Cotton.
Most recently, some 15 years ago, Martin Hawtree was called in to add new tees, rebuild the bunkers and extend a couple of greens. The result is that ‘little’ Luffenham Heath is actually quite meaty these days: it measures 6,560 yards to a miserly par of 70.
Luffenham’s strengths are its style and its variety: few holes are flat, at least until you reach the middle section of the course, and the run for home is a riot. The 2nd is an early stand-out, climbing gently, traversing a dip and then eventually settling on a very speedy green that slopes from back left to front right.
Another highlight of the front nine is the 7th, with its raised green built into the slope. Once you reach the 16th tee, it’s time to prepare for the final stretch. This is a long-ish par 4 down the hill with bunkers right to catch the fading drive.
From an elevated tee, the 17th unfurls below you. It’s a tough, long par 3 – well bunkered and at the mercy of the wind. Finally, Luffenham closes with a fine par 5 that has decided many a match over the years. Better players will fancy their chances of a closing four but at over 550 yards it is a hole that must be respected.
Just a few miles away from Luffenham is the handsome and historic town of Stamford, as well as the A1. Visitors would be well advised to take advantage of both its excellent transport links and also Stamford’s accommodation and restaurants.
All in all, this is a great spot for an overnight golf trip.