There are plenty of stern golfing tests for you to try in Essex. We take a look at nine of the best.
The Best Golf Courses In Essex
Your mind may not immediately think of Essex when looking to create your next golfing trip but that really shouldn’t be the case.
With some truly epic courses in its borders, we have taken a look at nine hidden gems that you need to try.
Related: Golf Monthly’s UK&I Top 100 Courses
Situated one hour outside London, the Warren estate dates back to the Roman occupation of Britain. It is now an 18-hole golf course with one of the most charming period clubhouses in the country.
When the land was developed into a golf course in 1902 it was initially a 9-hole course but when the estate changed hands in 1934 it was extended.
The stand out holes on this course are the 9th and the 13th. Both are par 4s but will test your game in different ways. The 9th measures 439 yards off the white tees, but only big hitters will get there in two as it is up a steep hill. A blind shot to the green increases the challenge further making it comfortably the toughest hole on the course.
The 13th is a short par 4 that is reachable from the tee for long hitters. 300 yards from the white tees, and 271 from the yellows, makes it very tempting to go for the green in one. You will still need laser accuracy though as bunkers guard the green to the left and right.
Set on the northern banks of the Thames, Orsett golf course is one of the premier courses in Essex. This is testified by its status as a regional qualifying course for the Open Championship.
Due to its location you can expect blustery winds around the course that can make it play completely differently from day-to-day. Rather than the typical clay-based courses in Essex, Orsett is set on sand which gives excellent drainage to the course and means than even in wet conditions the course remains in excellent condition.
The signature holes at Orsett are the 6th and the 12th. While the 12th is a par 3 that only measures 147 off the back tees, the green is surrounded by seven bunkers that will happily gobble up your ball should you miss the green.
The 6th is a hole which offers the classic risk/reward shot from the tee. A drivable short par 4 measuring 319 yards from the back tees. Many big hitters will be tempted to get there in one provided the wind is blowing in the right direction. It dog-legs from right to left and if you are brave enough to take the tiger-line you can get there.
Stoke by Nayland – Gainsborough course
Opened in 1972 the Gainsborough course at Stoke by Nayland is a relatively young course. Set up near the Dedham Vale area of Essex it is an area of natural beauty which makes playing the course a pleasure.
The course measures over 7,000 yards and is a challenging par 72. Most who play the course will remember the 10th hole as the best on the course. A 418-yard par 4, you tee off over a lake before playing your approach to the green over the same lake that you teed off from. It is followed by a tricky par 3 that plays over 200 yards uphill that tests your long iron accuracy and length.
A luxury hotel, health club and spa were added in 1999 making it a good place for a weekend stay-and-play and its sister course, the Constable, is also a very nice track that is capable of testing all standards of golfer.
Designed in 1920 by Harry Colt and Charles Alison, Thorndon Park is a lovely parkland gem to enjoy. Always in pristine condition, the fairways are wide enough to unleash the driver on several occasions but it is penal enough that any errant shots will be punished.
The 18th century mansion looms large on a few of the holes which gives the course an English feel to it. In particular, the 18th hole in which you hit straight towards the mansion gives a stunning backdrop to your final few shots of the day.
In terms of specific holes, 3, 4 and 5 are a nice stretch. The third is a par-4 measuring at 402 yards with the tee shot requiring an accurate drive. Water left combined with trees right create a stunningly pleasing aesthetic to the hole. Four’s tee shot provides a risk-reward scenario for the player. Go for it over the water to leave a short iron in, or lay-up and leave a tricky mid-iron? The choice is yours.
Finally the fifth is the shortest but also the tightest of the par-3s with the two-tier green making club selection vitally important.
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Chelmsford Golf Club was founded back in 1893 however the current course location only started being used from 1924 after Harry Colt designed the layout.
It may only measure just under 6,000 yards off the back tees, but don’t be fooled into thinking that makes it easy and there for the taking. With many of the holes set across the valley, the yardages are often deceptive and given how open the the land is, the wind can also play a part here.
Its signature hole according to the members is the fourth, a short but tough par-3 that has a heavily sloped green.
An undulating parkland course, Colchester was founded in 1907 and James Braid is the man behind the design here. Officially opened in 1910, Braid played an exhibition match against JH Taylor to celebrate the event, however at the time it was just a nine-hole course. Nine more were eventually added in 1938.
The front nine is where the scoring can be had because the two par-5s make the par 36 which gives you some chances at making birdies. Whereas the back-nine increases in difficulty with five of the par-4s measuring over 400 yards. The closing two holes, 17 and 18 are particularly strong.
Back in 1894 the decision was made by the Whitehall Golfer’s Club to bring golf to the area of Romford and from that point on, Romford Golf Club was created. (Although it was known as Gidea Links back then).
The original layout was created by George McIntosh but in 1896 James Braid became the head professional and redesigned several parts of it. The course has been a venue for Open Championship Regional Qualifying on six occasions which just shows the reputation and difficulty of the course.
After a relatively simple start to the round, the fourth is the first real test of your game. A 477-yard par-4 off the back tees, and often playing into the prevailing wind, the longer hitters have a distinct advantage here, however most should be happy with a five.
Toot Hill Golf Club is another undulating parkland course that would be worth your time. There are some truly stunning holes on this par-70 that opened back in 1991, none more so than the spectacular par-3 12th hole with is TPC-Sawgrass style island green.
Home to the South East Region Open Qualifier, Abridge was first designed in 1962 by three-time Open Champion Henry Cotton. Set in 240 acres of Essex parkland, the course itself offers some beautiful views as well as some of the finest greens in the area.
Another distinguishable feature of Abridge is its own ‘Amen Corner’ which stretches from the 10th to the 12th. All three holes are potential card-wreckers with out of bounds lurking on the left-hand side throughout. The 10th and 11th both play uphill which makes them significantly longer and the 12th, at 448-yards off the whites, yields very few pars.
All in all, Abridge offers a stern test of your golf game.
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