Review's of Verulam Golf Club
Hard to Fault
Playing Verulam for the first time in December, I probably didn't see the course at its best. That said, despite the damp conditions, I loved playing here. The tees were in excellent condition, the greens were smooth and quick, and the fairways were well worth finding.
The course unusually only has three par 3's and three par 5's, and while there are lots of trees to been seen, mostly the fairways are pretty generous and allow you to go with the driver from the tee.
There were lots of lovely looking holes, my favourite was probably the scenic 14th where water comes into play down the right hand side from the tee, but the hole which sticks out is the 17th. The 17th is a short par 3 that gets played over a fairly busy back road. There's a net to stop you from hitting the cars, but still...
The clubhouse and the welcome, both there and in the pro shop, were excellent. I can also recommend the huge bowl of chips from the bar menu.
The round was purchased as part of the TSG partner club deal, and is an absolute bargain. If you get a chance then I totally recommend playing here.
Very friendly club/members and the clubhouse/facilities were superb. Disappointed with the course in parts. Half of the greens have been relaid which hasn't been done particularly well. The course feels cramped in places but some of the holes are very good. Had it not been for the county card discount would have been very expensive for what it is. Tee boxes are tired and the course is very noisey from the passing trains and traffic. Still reflecting on some of the better holes which were very good, particularly the back nine. Glad to have been there.
Lovely course, is a must go to
Ignore the entrance, this is a beautiful, well maintained course with some of the most interesting greens around, hard but fair. Course is well maintained and you wil be hard pressed to find better bunkers & the members are out repairing the fairways. Some holes have stunning views. Well worth going to experience this course
Found my favourite local.
Firstly,yes there is a train track running along holes 1&2 but it should not put you off your game-there is a famous golf course in Surrey that has a train track alongside of it.
Standing on the first tee there was a man walking back and forth across the fairway,as it happens he was filling in the divots from other players. I noticed this on another hole,never seen this before and it just goes to show the pride the club shows in the course. The course in itself was in very good condition.
Tee boxes-Yes there a few that are close to greens but you can get hit by a ball anywhere on any course.
Fairways-Nice and undulating with lots of roll on them and subtle dog-legs
The Greens-These are the funkiest I have ever played on. These run true without on bobbles and today they were quick. Some greens have subtle breaks and some have complete roller coaster breaks on them,these will test your putting ability.
The only minor criticism was the fence on the 17th Par 3. It does prevent you smashing a ball through a car window or possibly causing an accident but it should not interfere with your tee shot. You should not need to worry about it,life's too short for that.
Would I play here again??? Too bloody right I would!
I will leave here for now as I am entering into Brigitte territory.
The Home of The Ryder Cup.......
I stumbled across this course recently and was so inspired by the history, I thought I should play it before the winter sets in....
The first thing to note is how friendly everyone is at the club. On entrance to the Clubhouse, I was immediately greeted by friendly staff, who were quick to tell me where everything was - many other clubs could learn from this approach.
The Clubhouse is steeped in history and the reference to the once great 'Samuel Ryder' is everywhere. This was his home course and the agreement between himself, James Braid, Henry Taylor and Harry Vardon is displayed on the wall, setting out the rules of The Ryder Cup, along with the an 'almost' replica of the great trophy - The Samuel Ryder Cup - played by the members each year.
The course is beautifully presented and from standing on the first tee, you know the ground staff clearly care about the course:
The first few holes break you in gently and allowing you to get you warmed up with shortish but protected greens - which is when you know its going to be a good course. All the greens are in great condition and flat and true.
The rest of the course meanders through pretty woodland but surprising there is enough room on each fairway that good shots are rewarded. On the whole, the course is fairly flat but equally you will find yourself breaking into a sweat on the odd incline/decline from time to time.
My only complaint would be that there are only three Par 3's (rather than the normal four) and as such you don't get to test your short game (from the tee) that often.
I mustn't forget to mention some of the great views (not promoted well enough on their website) including the superb 11th Par 5, which displays 'The Abbey' in all its glory. Ps. Verulam is the roman name for the city of St.Albans.
Finally, it's worth noting that we played at 1pm on a Sunday afternoon and we had the course to ourselves. We finished at 4.30pm (Yes, 3 1/2 hours!!) and that was with a four-ball ahead of our two-ball, who we never caught!
All in all, a great clubhouse, a great course and great history - I can see this being a regular on the TSG rota. Looking forward to going back already!
Not just a winter course
I reviewed this course after a couple of rounds in the winter. It's on chalk so it drains well which makes it great when it's muddy elsewehere.
I went back this week to play a summer round and I have to say it's a fantastic course and a great club. Unlike my other winter favourite (Gog Magog) it is actually improved in summer and the greens and fairways were in terrific condition.
There are two driving ranges and the pro shop offers free fitting sessions with a GC2 launch monitor. There is no obligation to buy the clubs they fit you for.
Can confirm that the bacon baguettes are still worth the price of the round on their own.
Unfortunately because of the recent wet conditions three of the holes played were to temporary greens; spoiling the potential enjoyment of the course; and a 'carry only' policy was in place. That said the course layout was varied and enjoyable with some challenging tee shots and the greens were protected by deep bunkers. The course off the yellow tees was not overly long but positioning on the fairways for the best lines of approach was essential. The greens played were generally big, firm and in good condititon but there was lots of late movement adjacent to the holes; timid putting was not conducive to good scores. Putting uphill was a big advantage.
The course contained one of the quirkiest holes I have ever encountered; ie the tee shot on the 'short' par 3 17th hole has to be launced from a high tee position over a busy public road; protected by high netted fencing and to carry a hedge row a couple of metres short of the green which if not cleared is an 'out of bounds' result. A potentially very intimidating tee shot. The green slopes significantly from back to front so extra club is recommended to make sure you get over.
The course will play totally differently in dry summer conditions!
Unfortunately the club didn't have a course planner available to purchase because of a bunker remodelling project; which was a big disadvantage first time out on the course.
The above said the experience was enjoyable and I look forward to get an opportunity to play it again under best condititons.
The clubhouse welcome and pro-shop service was excellent; good food also.
Pleasant Surpise, the Home of the Ryder Cup - in downtown St. Albans
Easy to find (although not very well signposted, this is one of those remarkable surprises - from the midst of an industrial/residential area this is a pretty unassuming entrance to a good challenging course.
Thre's not a lot of hardstanding for visitor parking and you need to acquire the entry code from the pro shop before you can get into the clubhouse. Not a bad idea though as it means every casual visitor is 'booked in'. Clubhouse hospitality - warm as expected, and I have to agree that the Bacon baguettes are good... The amusing thing is that the waiter advises - in a mock falsetto tone - that the ketchup is just over there - to the left of the Ryder Cup... NOTE.. No catering or bar services are currently available on Mondays.
To the course though.. good practice areas and a practice putting green that was a true reflection of on-course condition (fast and a bit snakey).
layout is 'interesting' crossing a minor road on more than one occasion... but it it a nice looking course, well kept fairways, excellent (challenging) greens and nothing to dramatic by way of rough. Some well established trees made this a pleasant walk (no trolleys on the day we played) There are some 'blind holes' where local knowledge is a good thing - definately an advantage to play with a local.. Sineage was pretty much OK and it was difficult to get lost.
There are some feature holes on this course - most unusually the 17th where you can get to play over the road..it might be wise to check Golf care insurance - the passing vehicles are a little off-putting, but take one extra club and give it a hit.. the sloping green may bring it back to the hole..
The 18th plays very long - into the wind and it's a par 5 where 4 good shots might leave you short of the putting surface...
Bunkers, well kept and easy to escape.. some water around but not enough to distract..
This is a course worth coming back to in the summer months.. when a little more roll might make it a bit easier... This is one of those courses that rewards conservative - middle of the fairway play.. with opportunities for long-hitters to give it a go on some holes.
Altogether a very good course, and deals are there to be made.
Pleasant Course, but....
A pleasant enough course, quite challenging in places and the much publicised warm bacon baguettes were indeed very good. Lovely view of the Abbey down one of the par 5's. Greens are very quick and undulating. Thoroughly enjoyed the company of our merry band on the day. However, I personally found a few niggly issues with the Club:
1. If you arrive after a long drive you cannot get into the building to use the facilities until you have checked in at the pro-shop to get the door entry code.
2. The car park is signposted Members, Ladies & Visitors. In this day and age Ladies should be fully acknowledged as Members.
3. The high quantity of rail traffic on the Midland Main Line thunders past a number of the holes. Add to that the nearby busy roads and many of the holes are a less than pleasant experience.
4. The 'Over the Road' hole is a bit of gimmicky nonsense. Check your golf insurance is up to date before you play this course!
5. A significant number of tees are very close to the preceeding green and some are positioned directly behind the greens. This is off-putting when playing into some greens and rather dangerous while standing on the tee. Our closest call was about 20 feet away as a ball whistled in from the group behind.
So, so special..... AND steeped in history!
Why play Verulam? Because of its steep history, its remarkable winter playability, its friendliness all around and its awesome freshly baked baguettes!
Originally a 9-hole designed in 1905 by civil engineer Ernest Phillips but within 6 years, James Braid re-designed Verulam to the present 18-hole where some of the greatest in golf have played including James Braid himself, J H Taylor, Harry Vardon, Abe Mitchell (coach to Sam Ryder) to name a few....
The course drains well as it's built on chalk so winter play is enjoyable, the greens are exceptional, even when scarified they are true and firm, with very subtle undulations (yes I got the correct spelling this time) & shapes.
The bunkers are “S” shape, some very steep, very well kept with plenty of lovely sand, NO standing water. The fairways are in great condition, the 1st cut is also fair. The layout is attractive due to the numerous trees, a good woodland management programme, the natural landscape with its ups & downs, the River Ver, the rural surroundings. There are exceptional views of St Albans Abbey/Cathedral, of the town itself too.
The 1st tee Par 4 will probably fool you into thinking it is going to be an easy round but as reach the long 18th Par 5 with its treacherous approach with numerous bunkers, 9 on L & R of the fairways and another 12 or more guarding the magnificent green, you realise that you need your precision instruments to score well & keep focus. Each hole is unique, one needs flair & finesse more than mighty powerful drives, though useful on the intimidating 15th and a few others.
There are 2 criss-cross holes, so beware, read the notices. The 10th hole can easily be missed, especially so if you chat to your playing partner or video their swing!! A railway line is fairly near some holes but not too distracting, there is a “Road Hole”, the quirky 17th.
14th Par 4, a great signature hole, dog leg right with large expanse of water acting as a magnet on one side and lots of tall trees on the other side. I must admit that being a “Leftie” playing from the Red tees, the hole is not so intimidating.
15th Par 4, probably the most intimidating hole, a large bank to carry, so a very blind Tee shot. One does not see anything else but this bank, so just take your best shot & hope. Today (7.1.2015) it was very windy, the clumps of trees on the right were making weird creaking noises, it sounded a little ghostly. I think Steve R. Was wondering when it was going to stop..... We both had our best/longest/straightest drive on this hole (some 300yrds/200yrds respectively, well nearly.......) to the middle of the fairway that slopes right & left to an undulated green with protective mounds on either side.
17th Par 3, over a very tall fence protecting a busy “B” road, a thick hedge guarding the short fringe & the green. Although the Tee box is raised, very off putting from the Red as you are so near the road and the passing cars are constantly in your peripheral vision, imperative to be extra confident with the correct lofted club.
The Proshop is fairly large, offering leading brands in equipment & clothing for Ladies/Men and a most friendly welcome awaits visitors. Men/Ladies/Juniors sections seem to have a busy calendar with various competitions including a yearly “Sam Ryder Trophy.” Ladies changing room are very pleasant with all the necessary lockers, showers etc...
Large Car Park on your right as you drive in. Nice chipping/sand practice areas. Open driving range but with some covered bays. Practice putting green is by the Clubhouse, the 18th green, on the way to the 1st tee. A good idea to practice as a good reflection of what to expect.
The Clubhouse has two bars + The Ryder room + The Abe Mitchell room for receptions, meetings, Sunday lunch etc. The Members are most welcoming & smiling. Memorabilia is housed in the Clubhouse in locked glass cabinets including a replica of the Ryder Cup, the Ryder Trophy, Sam Ryder’s own putter made by George Brews, clubmaker @ Royal Black Heath, 3 hickory clubs used by Abe Mitchell (Sam’s coach), his scorecard signed by Sam Ryder. There are paintings on the wall, various golf books on display too. The Captain Chair donated by Sam Ryder is still in use but cordoned off when no meeting in place, it sits in the middle of the 1st bar.
For the golf/history addicts amoung us, here's a brief summary ...
We know James Ryder as the founder of the Ryder Cup. He was a wealthy business man (Seed merchant of Penny packets) with a vision. He started golf late in life (at 50) due to ill health, practised for 1 year in his garden, then joined Verulam GC, was made Captain within a year of joining.
Sam Ryder rescued the club from financial difficulties too, he was a fair and liberal man who contributed so much to the life/the people of St Albans, a compassionate man who helped the needy, a benefactor to many local causes.
Sam Ryder was respected and loved by many, was a great father too instilling the love of reading books, literature, music & travel to his children and he spoilt his 3 daughters on their 21st birthday. He was also a worshipper, loved life and was full of humour. We must not forget the role of his brother James who also greatly contributed to golf @ Verulam. Both made sure that the status of the professionals got recognised & promoted to better things at a time when pros were not allowed in the Clubhouse! And there;'s a lot more to read in the many books published on this extraordinary man & his brother.
I think TSGers would enjoy a round at this historic course, perfect for winter play & where visitors are genuinely made to feel welcome. I am thrilled to bits to have experienced the course, learnt a little more about its history. Verulam was on my list to play for a long while.
Thank you Steve R for posting the game and for the video that will certainly help me improve my golf. A great day!
Great course, lovely people
I decided to have a crack at Veralum after working out that it's the closest course to me located in the chalk belt just north of London which means it ought to drain better than my local courses. Unfortunately the first time I played it was below freezing and the ground was completely solid so it wasn't possible to test the drainage theory. Anything that landed on a green bounced 30 feet into the air and off the back. Quite entertaining but not good golf.
The course was interesting enough for me to go back a week later and it's a really attractive course with no duff holes and a couple of really standout features (such as the chasm on the 15th).
There are two ranges, a chipping area and a practice green.
The staff are the friendliest I've ever encountered at a golf club. The bacon baguettes are amazing, the bread is still warm from the oven. The pro and his staff were in the bar chatting to us after the game and the members we met were all very smiley and welcoming, the total opposite of some clubs where their first reaction to visitors is to check for dress code infractions first and ask questions later.
At £20 a round this is great value. Oh, and the Ryder Cup was born here.
Home of the Ryder Cup
As the home of the Ryder Cup, it is a little more pretentious than it should be, but for all that a good test of your abilities. The course is in pretty good condition, probably a few more divots than you would hope for, but that is down to the wet weather. Greens were pretty quick today, thankfully it rained overnight, otherwise they would have been a nightmare. Bunkers were in good nick with ample sand, the rough was ball and a bit height, but absolutely penal if you went beyond. 4th time of playing and it is improving, I suppose they have had over a hundred years to get it right, but they are still learning! All in all not bad at all.