Glorious, exclusive, delightful...
As you drive through the lifted up barrier of the Harleyford Estate, you know you are onto something very private, exclusive & beautiful. A late afternoon deal rranged by TSGer Nev S. tempted me to go & play golf at Harleyford, even after a hard day gardening at Chiswick House & Gardens in full sun and a large hat.
Situated a few minutes from leafy Marlow town, the golf course is situated in a vast estate which houses exclusive luxurious wooden properties which one can hardly see from the course itself, as it is so well planned. All you see is the vast countryside all around. I believe there is a marina to keep one's boat securely moored, as the river Thames meanders not far away. On the estate somewhere, there is also a large 18th century listed Georgian manor house.
The course is very nicely designed (Donal Steele)using existing trees & local vegetation where a variety of birds can be seen, as well as deers seen by us on the 16th. I believe the course sits on chalky ground as it was very dry despite recent rain, the fairways are wide with lush grass, kept short, hardly any divots, the 1st cut is fine and the rough will hide your ball should it end up there, so you can say goodbye to it.
Although the fairways are very wide, there are some tight places to deal with, some big oak & pine trees which Nev managed to find a few times (sorry Nev, but I thought you were going for an Olympic record - well you won a Gold medal!). Lots of interesting holes, in fact every hole has its attraction, whether it be down hill, sloping right or left to raised, tiered, ondulating greens which were hollowed & sanded today (26 July 2012), still very fast and very difficult to master as we found out, even a Par 3 in regulation could give you a 3 putts, Yak !!!
Some holes seem flat and easy, but there are not as the approach to the greens needs to be delicate because of their shapes. Huge bunkers well placed with lovely white sand, making it easy to get out, should you ball travel in it (mine did a few time). Gorgeous dog legs (7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, 14th and 18th), really well planned with sloping fairways and today the ball could run miles should your Tee shot accurately land on the short green grass. No water comes into play (only 2 or 3 empty streams).
Some up and down but overall not a strenuous walk as the vastness of the course & magnificient surrounding countryside takes your breath away in a calming way, a very tranquil beauty. Two holes (5th, 10th) have a watch tower by the Tee boxes, the 10th also has a mirror perched on a post so one can see the sloping fairway & the large oak trees ! Yes Nev...
A truly gorgeous half way hut with vending machine,Ladies toilet at the back, a pretty seating area with bright flowers pots, baskets. I believe that one can pre-order food at the 6th and collect at the hut.
Favourite holes,I shall only name a few:
7th Par 4, dog leg, sloping down, not extremely long (from the Red Tees), but very inviting, if you get your Tee shot correct , the ball can run a long, long way.
12th, stunning raised Par 3, truly spectacular seen from Tee box or from the green which is encircled by a chalky backdrop with a dry chalky ditch (red posts), 3 large bunkers in front of green and a dry stream ! In the background one can see a Folly which stands by the 14th/15th.
14th Par 4, a very interesting dog leg, with the Folly at the 90 degree angle, dry moat in front, so could not really go and investigate the inside.
Members seems friendly and relaxed. A friendly, well stocked Pro shop. Pro shop, Clubhouse is a very attractive building, well laid out cosy terrace with nice hardwood seating/table overlooking 18th green and the 1st tee in the distance. Stunning Ladies changing rooms downstairs which one accesses via a lovely wooden staircase. All modern fittings combined with classy woodwork in green tones.
Did not stop at the Clubhouse as we finished late but there are several well designed bars with large TV screens, glass cupboards housing trophies, nice seating. The Car Park is huge. I managed to park on a Members bay(!) as I thought it was for anyone, but it was not a problem apart from the fact that as I was walking to the boot of my car, my right foot fell in a very deep hole (20/25cm deep) which gave me a big surprise/shock but not physical damage, otherwise I would have been airlifted to Maidenheal Hospital and Nev would have had to play golf without my company.
There are Public footpaths around the estate. A large open practice area well kitted out with yardage flags, chipping/pitching nets. The practice putting green is by the 1st Tee and it does reflect the greens on the course. All the greens were hollowed, sanded making the putts trickier, well that is my excuse.
Put this course on your list "to play courses" and you wont be disappointed, you will want to return.
One more thing: on my way home, along the A404(?), I was delighted to see a combine harvester (John Deere or Claas ?)in full action and for me a true country girl, it meant Summer with long balmy evenings, immense skies with twinkling stars, just delightful and brings back memories from France...
It was a lovely long day.
That is if you managed to read all, hope it gives the right picture!
A touch of class!
The moment the barriers go up to let you onto the estate, you know that you could be in on something special. By the time you come out you're certain of it.
This is one wonderful place to play golf. There's a warm welcome in the pro shop, there are gorgeous holes, a fabulous clubhouse, some excellent practise facilities, and a changing room that's a big step up on a lot of courses.
Favourite holes (forgetting the scores I put down on my card!) were the downhill 7th and the scenic par 3 12th, but really, there are no real letdowns here.
The fairways are generally wide, but the greens will make sure that you have to work to get good scores.
My suggestion is go and play Harleyford, you won't be disappointed.