An intimate gem of golf course with a pleasing mix of heath and park

East Berkshire

East Berkshire Golf Club

Date Reviewed
October 22, 2021
Reviewed by Ed Battye
Planning a round of golf in late October can be a dicey affair, especially in my home county of Yorkshire where the vast majority of courses are built on heavy soil or clay, so it was very refreshing to discover when venturing down south how well East Berkshire played at this time of year.

More than 20mm of overnight rain had forced the closure of the course the previous day, therefore, even more credit must go to this short yet taxing venue which will no doubt often get overshadowed by its illustrious neighbours.

The course, located at Crowthorne and designed in 1903 by Peter Paxton, is ranked fifth in Berkshire by the Top 100 golf courses website and I think that is about right although one could argue, depending upon what mood you are in, a quick jaunt round here could be a more enjoyable affair than that at fourth placed Bearwood Lakes.

What you will find here is a 6,240 yard, par 69 course over gently undulating terrain which guides you effortlessly through the 18 holes. Short green-to-tee walks and an absence of long rough means you can expect a two-ball to be round in well under three hours.

I personally preferred the front nine, perhaps because it plays 400 yards shorter and there are more birdie chances, but also because the holes seemed to flow really well one after another. After a modest start the third is a superb hole where you must favour the left-side for a better angle into a sloping green tucked around the shoulder of an escarpment.

The fifth, 'Garnett's Gem', is a wonderful par-three with a green complex that is first-rate. The eighth is another strong hole with a lovely green and bunkering and the front side closes with another excellent one-shotter "Freddie's Grave" - that tells you all you need to know!

The back-nine starts strongly with a brute of a par-four before giving you a chance to recover at the reachable par-five 11th, the only long hole on the course. Hole 12 is probably the weakest driving hole on the course but the hidden green makes up for that and whilst the next felt a little out of character to the rest of the course it requires a good blow with a long iron to reach the green 213 yards away.

Then it's back to the good stuff. The 14th bends nicely round a depression whilst the elevated drive at the next is a thrill and takes you back to the clubhouse. But don't despair the enjoyment doesn't end there as we still have a little loop of three to play at the end.

I was fond of both the short 16th and 416-yard 17th and although I can't say the last is a great finishing hole it has my total respect because it needs to be played well to have any chance of a par. My drive was tugged a little left where my only (slim) chance of finding the green was with a boomerang hook which had to start (and almost finished) on the car park!

A lot of the greens have quite narrow entrances and then widen towards the rear. There are some wonderful, yet subtle, borrows too and I though the putting surfaces were a real strength of the course. The greens are nicely bunkered too but the main hazard you will find here are some of the natural streams and brooks that run throughout the property.

I was impressed with East Berks and that is to say I obviously didn't see it at its best towards the end of the season either. I'm sure when it is faster-running and the heather is in bloom it will be absolutely majestic. I may just pencil myself in for one of the two 36 hole open competitions The Club run each year.

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