Played by NCG: Centurion Golf Club
Reason for a Centurion Golf Club review
I was attending a publicity day for the charity Golfing4Life, which supports young elite golfers by ensuring their ambitions are not limited by financial constraints. For more information, visit golfing4life.com.
Where is it?
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.
What to expect
Outstanding service for a start. 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.
My game, to the anguish of my scorecard, seemed to thrive more among the pines.
My best bit
For six holes, I enjoyed a career day. It’s not often I can say I was matching quality players shot for shot but, a third of the way through, I was level par gross (I play off 11) and ahead of three youngsters whose combined handicap did not break scratch.
The woodland setting of the opening few holes really got my juices flowing and, with greens soft and in perfect condition, you could fire at the pins without any thought of finding trouble.
My finest moment came at the par 3 4th. Weighing in at 140 yards, I hit a perfect 7-iron to no more than a couple of feet and sunk a birdie putt.
What to look for…
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.