North Hants was founded in 1904 and has been shaped by the distinguished likes of James Braid, Harry Colt and Tom Simpson. Its greatest claim to fame, though, in modern times at least, is that this was the course that Justin Rose grew up playing. It is also the home of the famous Hampshire Hog amateur scratch event that always draws a high-quality field. Located near Fleet, on the M3 corridor, North Hants is on the western edge of the sand belt that cuts through Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire and is a blend of heathland and parkland.
James Braid was credited with the original design of the course in 1904 and he described it as “most sporting and interesting”. In 1913, the course was re-shaped by Harry Colt and was further modified by Tom Simpson in the 1930s. Donald Steel was asked to alter three holes in 2001 and the course measures 6,475 yards from the back tees.
It opens with a long and testing par 3, well over 200 yards, and those starting with a par are in a minority. The first obvious highlight comes in the shape of the par-5 3rd. The fairway slopes from left to right and it takes the strongest of tee shots to bring the green into range, not least because there is a lake to navigate. It’s a genuine three-shotter for most.
Like most courses in this part of the world, there are few flat holes at North Hants. Happily, in recent years many trees have been felled and the heather encouraged to return and this does give a more open vista. True heathlands should never involve tree-lined corridors of fairways.
The par-4s at North Hants offer pleasing variety but a recurring theme is gentle side slopes so it often feels as though you only have half a fairway to aim at, putting a premium on good driving.