If ever there was an example of bunkering on a golf course that elevated the layout from being good to excellent Effingham must surely be it. This is almost exclusively thanks to the work of leading golf architecture firm, Mackenzie & Ebert, who recently enhanced this classic Harry Colt course with truly spectacular results.
Played over chalky downland terrain on a large property the bunkering brings the course to life; both on drives and approach shots. It’s a long time since I’ve been as impressed with a bunker scheme on a golf course as I was at Effingham when I visited in early June 2019.
The clean and simple, though rarely straight, outlines to the hazards have a real sharpness to them which are visually impressive, especially with the near-white sand making them really stand out. They are also extremely well placed strategically from the tee and merge into the wonderful green complexes exceptionally well.
The playing corridors are generous at Effingham with long wispy grass – which was quite playable from on my visit – acting as a buffer before you may reach the established woodland.
The front-nine loops around arable land in a huge circle. There is a real sensation of space and isolation as we tread the opening loop. It’s possible to get off to a fast start with a par-five opener followed by two short par-fours but from there on you must play some good golf if you wish to make a score. The back-nine is a little more condensed but is still golf on a big scale although the firm turf ensures it never becomes a slog.
One of the things I enjoyed here was that on many drives you had a perception of where you were going but you couldn’t always see where your ball ended up. This is due to the rising and falling downland where Colt has routed the course to leave the golfer with a sense of anticipation.
The entire consistency of the bunkering, and the course itself for that matter, is one of Effingham’s trump cards. Because of this selecting any stand-out holes is not easy but likewise there are no poor holes either.
I personally enjoyed the short seventh, wonderful ninth with its diagonal fairway bunkers, and the 13th – another par-three with a brilliant green which pinches in halfway up it. And although not directly related to golf I must also make mention of the magnificent house (!) adjacent to the 17th tee on what is another fine hole.
The putting surfaces were conditioned immaculately and had a lovely pace to them despite my round being played in the evening after some heavy afternoon rain. There are some good contours on them which simply elevate this course further in my estimation. I also strongly suspect that the course plays well for 12 months of the year. And with fantastic views of London and the Chilterns there is very little to dislike at this true Surrey gem.
Although Effingham isn’t an especially tough course it is perfectly challenging and can play to a top yardage of 6,800 yards with a par of 71 and a SSS of 73. Regional Qualifying for The Open was held here between 2016 - 2010 and I’m sure this is a course we will hear a lot more about over the coming years.
You should also make time to sample the food and beverages on offer in the delightful Georgian clubhouse which also acts as a stunning backdrop to the 18th hole.
Following a 4:00am alarm call we’d already driven for more than six hours and covered over 350 road miles before boarding a ferry at Oban sailing to Lochboisdale.
The Halifax Golf Club, often better known as Ogden, is a course that divides opinion.