Routed over gently rolling terrain – once a deer park and part of the Ancient Manor of Enfield - a round at Hadley Wood serves up a delicious treat of golf that fits well in this company.
Designed in 1922 by the famous Dr Alister MacKenzie as you would expect there are several strategic holes, some excellent green sites and an abundance of stylish bunkering.
There isn’t a great deal to write home about in the first four holes although the downhill par-three third is an attractive one-shotter to a green that falls away from you slightly.
Things start to get tasty at the fifth with a truly wonderful green site benched into the hillside whilst the short seventh is simply stunning. At just 141 downhill yards you play to a narrow reversed, three-tiered green which is heavily defended by sand and framed with a lovely backdrop of water and wildlife. The flag was located on the front tier on my visit and trying to land your ball on this tiny section into the wind felt like an impossible task; of course one could play sensibly for the fat of the green and face a testing putt.
The ninth is just too long to be driveable but is a nice short par-four measuring 338-yards to end the front side.
I’m not sure if the routing has been altered over the years but I’m almost certain that MacKenzie wouldn’t have made the golfer trek from the ninth green across the second fairway to the 10th tee. However, once we get there we are greeted with another fine par-three, this time over water, to an angled green with a bail-out area to the left. Once again there are several bunkers to dodge.
The 11th is a bit of an uphill slog as we return to the clubhouse on the highest part of the property but the remaining seven holes ensure the rest of the round is exciting with some really fun holes, save for the final hole which is inevitably back up the hill, albeit a solid par-four.
The 12th is a lovely downhill hole with an approach over a ditch to a fantastically contoured green. The 13th and 14th are back-to-back par fives and there may just be a hint of Augusta in the former. Green complexes at both are exceptional.
The next two are shortish par-fours but well protected around the greens and the 17th is a simply beautiful looking short hole, once again handsomely ringed by sand.
Laid out in two loops – of 11 and 7 holes - the course plays 6,517 yards from the back tees, in the classic four par-fives and four par-threes configuration and lives up fully to its par 72. Few holes at Hadley Wood feel the same and there is a reasonable width to most holes despite the tree-lined nature of the course.
Presentation was first-class on my visit in mid-August although the greens must have been hollow-tined in the previous fortnight with dents still present and this did take a slight shine off putting. That said, the main defence of the course is the contoured and sloping greens. Even on my visit getting the wrong side, and leaving yourself above the hole, immediately placed you in three-putt territory.
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.