Firm, fast running and extremely enjoyable

Luffenham Heath

Luffenham Heath Golf Club

Date Reviewed
March 5, 2015
Reviewed by Ed Battye
I arrived at Luffenham Heath Golf Club on a beautifully bright and mild March morning after a pleasant and stress-free two hour drive.

The car park was empty, the course was clear and I was an hour ahead of my allotted tee-time; every lone golfers perfect scenario.

And then disaster struck!

Imagine my disappointment when registering in the pro-shop and being told that the course was currently on temporary greens (holes cut in the fairway) and they would only return to the normal ones once a light top dressing had been applied to the putting surfaces. The staff were very apologetic and quickly offered a discount off my green-fee, however, I declined and opted to play two rounds instead; the first one to the temporaries and the second to the normal greens later in the day.

It was a good decision because I got to walk the course twice and despite the top-dressing the proper greens were superb; firm but receptive, quick and true. A real credit should go to the head green-keeper and his team.

It’s a fine piece of land that the course is routed over. The opening holes use the terrain especially well and then after playing a few holes on flatter ground the undulations return for the closing stretch.

Despite its name the course isn’t really laid out over heathland, certainly not nowadays. There is plenty of width for the playing corridors but should one venture a little more wayward you are likely to find thorny bushes, scraggly trees, brambles or gorse with very little chance of executing a recovery shot…. at least pain-free!

In my opinion the strength of Luffenham is in the par fours. There are a series of high quality two-shot holes and rarely a straight one amongst them. Many of the holes dogleg or curve significantly and this makes for good strategic golf.

The first, at just 360 yards, is a good getaway hole before you play arguably the best hole on the course. The second hole requires a left-to-right tee shot in order to maximise distance and also to thread your drive between two fairway bunkers that appear to be much closer together than they actually are. You must then play over a large depression to a green nicely positioned and guarded by bunkers on both sides.

The third and fourth holes play as two medium-length par fours. The former is played right-to-left and uphill whilst the latter is left-to-right and has a lovely falling approach shot to a green well below you.

The seventh is also a contender for being the best hole on the course. It is visually appealing and whilst it may be the eye-candy bunkering that many remember it is the green complex that impressed me the most with several swales, hollows and ridges as it rises from front to back. It’s a feature I would like to have seen more of during the round, especially on some of the shorter holes. Generally speaking the greens are relatively flat with just subtle slopes, although I can imagine they will become nightmarish (in a good way) if you are the top side of the hole in the summer months.

There isn’t a sniff of a weak hole at Luffenham Heath and no two holes are the same, just a series of very good golf holes.

There are only two par fives on the par 70 course and both present birdie opportunities but are not without their perils either. Fairway bunkering must be avoided on both and should one manage this there is further trickery to avoid closer to the green; a gathering swale to the right of the sixth and the awkwardly angled entrance to the 18thposing the main threats.

The set of short holes are sound without being exceptional. The 17th is perhaps the most memorable with a dropping shot played to a tricky green defended by humps, bumps, hollows and bunkers.

Overall I was very impressed with the golf on offer at Luffenham Heath and it’s a course I will try and return to in the summer when the course is no doubt playing even firmer than it was in March.

Being in a one-ball I caught up with a few groups of members (and their dogs) during my second round, all of which waved me up immediately and were happy to chat about their course as I played through. It was clear they were very proud of it and so they should be.

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