26.04.2018 - 02:17 Uhr

Apart from my career as a journalist, (the income from which would hardly keep me in golf balls) I do have a few other interests in life that help me pay the bills. It was during a recent business trip to UK that I found myself with some time on my hands, in the vicinity of North London. Not being the type of person to waste any free time, I set out to find a suitable golfing partner and a nearby course that would be available to play. My old chum Steve was happy to spend half a day in my company again, and together we made our way up to Cockfosters, and the Hadley Wood Golf Club. I had never played this course before, but I remembered an acquaintance many years ago telling me of a fine day he once spent there.


The club is remarkably easy to find being situated just a couple of minutes from junction 24 on the M25 orbital motorway. On the way you will pass some splendid homes, which gives one an idea of the desirability of the area. As we drove into the car park, a beautiful sight awaited us. The clubhouse was originally an old mansion, and has been lovingly kept up by the members. The view over the course was absolutely magnificent, with mature trees and rolling fairways stretching down away from the house. The course was originally laid out over a large private estate, and you would never dream that you were just 10 miles or so from central London.

Hadley Woods was obviously an old English private members club in the tradition of Stoke Poges or Sunningdale. I turned to Steve and remarked that we would probably not be welcome to play, coming in off the street. Anyway, off we went to the Pro Shop to see if we could plead for mercy. Peter Jones, the Head Pro, could not have been more welcoming, and immediately put us at ease. Not only were we welcome to play the course as visitors, but he assigned one of his staff to show us the locker rooms, and clubhouse facilities. We had not bought any handicap certificates with us, but Peter kindly accepted our word that we were experienced players. The green fee was normally £40 (very reasonable for London) but Peter reduced this to £35 as they were top-dressing a couple of the greens that day. As it turned out I birdied both of the affected holes, so I offered to pay Peter double the normal green fee if he could arrange to have all the greens top-dressed the next time I played there.

The course was originally designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie, the renowned architect who was responsible for many fine courses, not least of which is the Augusta National (home of the Masters Tournament). Hadley Wood is a fine example of MacKenzie's work. He used the existing contours of the landscape to carve out some wonderful flowing golf holes. The fairways are for the most part generous, and well defined, but the trees and the rough will punish any shot that strays. There are some beautiful gentle doglegs which reward shots that are well shaped, and some well-placed bunkers that have to be negotiated. The greens were true and receptive. Playing at just 6303 yards (about 5800meters) off the member's tees, the course is not long by modern standards, and some of the fairway bunkers can now be carried by longer hitters using the latest generation of drivers. But as we all know, the longer you hit, the more risk of a mistake being magnified. This course really hurts you if you leave the fairways - there is normally no way you can go for the green out of the trees. It came as no surprise for me to learn that Hadley Wood is an Open qualifying course. We thoroughly enjoyed our game and I will definitely return to the course next time I am in the area.

It is always so refreshing to find such a wonderfully designed course, maintained in excellent condition, at reasonable Green fees, that welcomes the visiting golfer. I can recommend this course to anyone visiting the London area. Overseas visitors are very welcome on weekdays. Weekends are only possible if you play with a member. You would be advised to call in advance to ensure a tee-time is available.

Hadley Wood Golf Club
Beech Hill
Barnet
Hertfordshire EN4 0JJ

Pro: Peter Jones - PGA Class A Professional
Tee-times: call 0044 81-449 3285
Web-site: www.hadleywoodgc.com

Recommended Hotel:
West Lodge Park. A lovely Country House hotel with a good restaurant just 1000 yards from the Golf Club

Reservations: 0044 208-216 3900
Web-site: www.bealeshotels.co.uk