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Berkhamsted Golf Club

This club is famous for… having no bunkers

If you’re more comfortable in the sand with a bucket and spade then a golf club, Berkhamsted might just be the course for you
 

Bunkers – the curse of the amateur golfer.

So easy for the professionals, so damned difficult for the rest of us.

Anyone who has ever been enjoying a good round and then wedged their ball into the face of a trap will know the feeling of despair that comes over in a wave after finding the dreaded fine stuff.

Two or three thrashes later and that’s the temper gone – along with the scorecard.

Unfortunately for us, bunkers are a fairly central and pivotal part of golf course architecture.

Or are they?

At one Hertfordshire course, there is not a grain to be found. Berkhamsted is a bunker free zone.

Berkhamsted Golf Club

Found quite high up in the Chilterns, this course has been here since 1890 and changed little since James Braid loaned his talents to it in the 1920s.

In fact, not only are there no bunkers at Berkhamsted, there are modern no man made hazards either. No artificial lakes, no dug out ravines.

That’s not to say, though, that there aren’t obstacles to overcome. Gorse, heather, bracken and trees provide the usual challenge, alongside something a bit more unusual.

The Iron Age Grim’s Ditch, a lengthy trench thought to have been constructed in about 300BC, and passed through Berkhamsted, can get in the way if you are not careful.

Remnants of the ditch can be seen on the common and mounding is said to run across the northern part of the course and through a number of the holes.

Berkhamsted is not the only course to cope without liberal amounts of sand. Dollar, on the slopes of the Ochils in central Scotland, and Royal Ashdown Forest’s Old course are just two further examples.

But this natural test of golf, which has been laid before countless numbers of promising players in the Berkhamsted Trophy, is a charming experience.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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