Best Golf Courses In Hertfordshire

When looking for the best golf courses in Hertfordshire, the following selection should make for an excellent starting point

Moor Park - Best Golf Courses in Hertfordshire
The fifteenth green on the West Course at Moor Park with the amazing clubhouse beyond
(Image credit: Andy Hiseman)

Situated just to the north of London, then by size, Hertfordshire is actually one of England’s smaller counties. Surprisingly, it is still home to around sixty golf clubs of all shapes and sizes including one in Golf Monthly’s Top 100 Courses of the UK&I, and a couple more in the Next 100. With the understandable exception of links, it is home to parkland and downland golf, courses that have hosted Tour events, and a great mix of old and new. Beginning with the three top-ranked courses, the following is a selection of the very best golf courses in the county.

The Grove

The Grove - Hole 6

The approach to the par-5 sixth at The Grove

(Image credit: The Grove)
  • Location Watford
  • Founded 2003
  • Architect Kyle Phillips
  • GF Round £99-£199
  • Par 72, 7,152 yards
  • Contact The Grove (opens in new tab)

Just moments from the M25, this modern but fully-mature Top 100 parkland course boasts a very rich pedigree and is one of the best golf courses in England. It was designed by one of the game’s finest contemporary architects, Kyle Phillips, and has already hosted both a WGC event, won by Tiger Woods, and more recently the British Masters hosted by Luke Donald. There is great variety all the way with bold, impressive and refurbished bunkering as well as encounters with water at the superb par-4 3rd and testing short 4th. It is kept in wonderful condition all year round. The hotel’s sumptuous accommodation is complemented by fine dining from a mouth-watering menu using home-grown ingredients.

Read The Grove course review

Ashridge

Ashridge Golf Club - Hole 9

The approach to the beautifully-sited green on the par-4 ninth at Ashridge

(Image credit: Ashridge Golf Club)
  • Location Berkhamsted
  • Founded 1932
  • Architect C K Hutchison, Guy Campbell & SV Hotchkin - Tom Simpson
  • GF Round £90 Mon-Wed, £100 Fri
  • Par 72, 6,678 yards
  • Contact Ashridge Golf Club (opens in new tab)

The beautiful and peaceful design at Ashridge benefitted in its early years from the creative genius of various architects including the great Tom Simpson. This is a genuine oasis away from the hurly-burly of the modern world, with the course beckoning to you from the modern and perfectly positioned clubhouse. The opening pair of holes descend gently along a wide valley, easing you into your round, and there is then great variety with the front nine closing with a picture-perfect, short par 4 played to a green that is tricky both to find and to read. The back nine has perhaps even more variety and joy, with the 16th the prettiest of five diverse and intriguing short holes. Ashridge is rightly in the list of the UK & Ireland’s Next 100 Golf Courses

Read full Ashridge Golf Club course review

Berkhamsted

Berkhamsted Golf Club - Hole 7

Looking back from behind the green on the seventh hole at bunkerless Berkhamsted

(Image credit: Andy Hiseman)
  • Location Berkhamsted
  • Founded 1890
  • Architect Willie Park Jnr, Harry Colt, James Braid
  • GF Round £90 (after 15:00 Fri-Sun)
  • Par 72, 6,368 yards
  • Contact Berkhamsted Golf Club (opens in new tab)

The characterful course at Berkhamsted dates back to the 1880s and its commonland setting accounts for the club’s original approach of creating a design that preserved the heathland, making use of its mounds, hollows, gorse and heather. James Braid followed this principle when he revamped the course in the 1920s, since when little has changed. With no sand bunkers on the course, several holes call for a shot to be played over Grim’s Dyke, a huge defensive earthwork, and the course offers golf in as natural an environment as you will find anywhere.

Read full Berkhamsted Golf Club course review

Centurion Club

Centurion Club - Hole 18

The final green on the par-5 closing hole at Centurion Club is very well protected

(Image credit: Centurion Club)
  • Location Hemel Hempstead
  • Founded 2013
  • Architect Simon Gidman
  • GF Members & Guests Only
  • Par 74, 6,756 yards
  • Contact Centurion Club (opens in new tab)

Architect Simon Gidman was given the remit of revising his original specification and building a course of championship status by developing greens with greater and more dramatic contouring, adding and revising bunkers, and creating greater length. The result is a very distinct mix of tree-lined and more heathland and undulating holes. Relaxation is very much the name of the game at Centurion where the emphasis is on making sure that members and their guests feel truly at home. Play when you want to, eat what you like, wear what makes you feel comfortable, and come and go as you please. The Centurion Club is one of a new breed. 

Read full Centurion Club course review

Brocket Hall

Brocket Hall - Melbourne Course - Hole 4

The fourth hole on the Melbourne Course at Brocket Hall with the sixteenth green across the water

(Image credit: Brocket Hall Golf Club)
  • Location Welwyn Garden City
  • Founded 1992
  • Architect Melbourne, Peter Alliss & Clive Clark - Palmerston, Donald Steel
  • GF £95-£150, check with club for details
  • Melbourne - Par 72, 6,616 yards
  • Palmerston -  Par 73, 6,820 yards
  • Contact Brocket Hall Golf Club (opens in new tab)

It’s a tough call to say which of the fine parkland courses at Brocket Hall is the better of the two. The Melbourne was the first to open, thirty years ago, and has one of the most distinguishing features in English golf; a pontoon to take you over the lake to the green on the closing hole. It has plenty of strong holes and is situated on beautifully manicured parkland inspired by Capability Brown. By contrast, the Palmerston runs largely between stately pine and oak and is more about keeping the ball straight. It opened for play at the turn of the Millennium and makes for a perfect complement to the more dramatic Melbourne. As to which is better, let’s just call it a score draw!

Essendon

Essendon - New Course - Hole 9

Shadows across the ninth green on the New Course at Essendon

(Image credit: Essendon Country Club)
  • Location Hatfield
  • Founded 1976
  • Architect Old, FW Hawtree - New, Landscape Design
  • GF Round £47.50-£65
  • Old Par 72, 6,351 yards
  • New Par 73, 6,506 yards  
  • Contact Essendon Country Club (opens in new tab)

Blessed with a fabulous old clubhouse and two fine courses, Essendon Country Club enjoys a surprisingly rural location. Although the two courses are both parkland, they are remarkably different in appearance and so offer something for all golfing tastes. The Old was designed by Fred Hawtree, while a very unusual feature of the New is that the majority of the holes were built with alternative greens. One of the best holes on the site is the long 10th on the Old which is played from an elevated tee before snaking its way to a partially hidden green. This is a wonderfully relaxed and modern club with much to offer.

Read full Essendon Golf Club course review

Hadley Wood

Hadley Wood - Hole 10

Looking back over the green on the short tenth at Hadley Wood

(Image credit: Hadley Wood Golf Club)
  • Location New Barnet
  • Founded 1922
  • Architect Alister MacKenzie
  • GF Round £95wd
  • Par 72, 6,517 yards
  • Contact Hadley Wood Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Less than two miles inside the M25 but still enjoying a peaceful and surprisingly rural location, Hadley Wood is undoubtedly one of the leading clubs in Hertfordshire. Its very attractive parkland course has ten holes on the clubhouse side of a grand lake, with the other eight - holes two to nine - on the other. To be more accurate, it’s actually 8½ as the fabulous short hole that opens the back nine has a back tee to the south of the lake. There are several of the signature Alister MacKenzie tiered greens, and a number of very strong par 4s including the 5th and 12th. The Georgian clubhouse is also very impressive and Hadley Wood makes for an excellent golfing day out.

Hanbury Manor

Hanbury Manor - Hole 17

The green on the strong par-5 seventeenth at Hanbury Manor with the lake, closing hole and mansion beyond

(Image credit: Hanbury Manor)
  • Location Ware
  • Founded 1990
  • Architect Jack Nicklaus Junior
  • GF On Application
  • Par 72, 6,678 yards
  • Contact Hanbury Manor Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Variety is the spice of life, and one of the appealing features at Hanbury Manor is that the course has two quite diverse loops of nine played over contrasting terrain. One is traditionally British, and the other was designed by an American almost ninety years later. In fact it is now more than thirty years since Jack Nicklaus Junior added what is now the front nine, a few years after what was originally the home of the Hanbury brewing family was developed into a luxury hotel. Substantial Changes were made at the same time to Harry Vardon’s 9-holer, including the introduction of USGA greens which are a strong feature throughout. With its hybrid course offering real variety and fun, Hanbury Manor is an excellent venue for societies, corporates, and those seeking enjoyable golf with all the trimmings.

Read full Hanbury Manor Golf Club course review

Harpenden

Harpenden Golf Club - Hole 11

A trio of bunkers protect the green on the short eleventh at Harpenden

(Image credit: Andy Hiseman)
  • Location Harpenden
  • Founded 1894
  • Architect FG Hawtree & JH Taylor
  • GF Round £70wd, £80we
  • Par 70, 6,430 yards
  • Contact Harpenden Golf Club (opens in new tab)

The club originally occupied the land and course now enjoyed by its near neighbours, Harpenden Common, but moved to a different site less than a mile away just over 90 years ago. Here, they play over a slightly more undulating and very pretty parkland layout designed by Hawtree and Taylor. It opens with a quartet of challenging par 4s before the shortest hole on the course, a par 3 of 151 yards from the back tee. You return to the clubhouse after the tough par-4 12th before a further loop of six that includes the final short hole at 16 followed by the second of the par 5s. This is a very fine, traditional members’ club.

Harpenden Common

Harpenden Common - Hole 18

The view from the clubhouse balcony back down over the par-3 closing hole at Harpenden Common

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Harpenden
  • Founded 1931
  • Architect Ken Brown
  • GF Round £45, Day £55
  • Par 70, 6,074 yards
  • Contact Harpenden Common Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Harpenden Common was founded in 1931 although golf had been played on the common way before then. This sociable club has evolved greatly since, especially thanks to a major upgrade in 1996 under the guidance of local man, Ken Brown. The former Ryder Cupper is a true local with a long-standing relationship with the club and he has gently and subtly moved the course with the times to create a very enjoyable test where the gorse in Spring is an absolute picture. In such a location, the green fee also represents very good value. In 2022, it was featured as one of Golf Monthly’s 100 Hidden Gem golf courses of the UK&I.

Read full Harpenden Common Golf Club course review

The Hertfordshire

The Hertfordshire - Hole 15

The short fifteenth at The Hertfordshire calls for precise distance control

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Broxbourne
  • Founded 1995
  • Architect Jack Nicklaus Junior
  • GF Round £50
  • Par 70, 6,266 yards
  • Contact The Hertfordshire Golf Club (opens in new tab)

The Hertfordshire is a course of two halves based around the impressive, 18th-century Broxbournebury Mansion. It was designed in the mid-1990s to fill a gap in the market and although it has a relatively gentle front nine, there are still some good holes here such as the two shotters at seven and eight. Pleasingly, it is a course that generally improves all the way, with the best saves for the closing six holes. These include two par 3s over water, a strong par 5, and three tough par 4s that are all interesting and memorable.

Moor Park

Moor Park - High Course - Hole 8

The eighth hole on the High Course at beautiful Moor Park

(Image credit: Moor Park Golf Club)
  • Location Rickmansworth
  • Founded 1923
  • Architect Harry Colt
  • GF High Course £105, West Course £70, Day £150
  • High Par 72, 6,717 yards
  • West Par 69, 5,833 yards
  • Contact Moor Park Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Harry Colt designed both courses at Moor Park in 1923, the championship-standard High and the sporty and very entertaining West. The High has staged many notable professional and amateur events, and although shorter, the West is just as much fun while a little more forgiving. Another highlight is the remarkable clubhouse, a 17th-century Palladian mansion decorated with fine art throughout. In an area packed with good golf, Moor Park offers an excellent 36-hole day out.

Old Fold Manor

Old Fold Manor - Hole 18

The closing hole at Old Fold Manor, a par 4 of 438 yards from the back tee

(Image credit: Old Fold Manor Golf Club)
  • Location Barnet
  • Founded 1910
  • Architect Harry Colt
  • GF Round £60 Mon-Thu, £70 Fri-Sun
  • Par 71, 6,399 yards
  • Contact Old Fold Manor Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Nestling just a couple of miles inside the junction of the M25 and the A1, Old Fold Manor is a Harry Colt design that was used for regional qualifying for The Open from 2006 to 2010. In Colt’s day, it was very much a heathland course, but nowadays most of the rumpled fairways are separated by trees. This is a course of strength-in-depth rather than signature holes, and opens with six straight mid-length par 4s. It’s a tap-in short of 6,400 yards from the white tees and renowned for its excellent but tricky greens.

Porters Park

Porters Park - Hole 3

Looking back down the third hole at Porters Park, a tough par 4 over 400 yards from all tees

(Image credit: Porters Park Golf Club)
  • Location Radlett
  • Founded 1899
  • Architect Cuthbert Butchart, CK Cotton
  • GF Round £85
  • Par 70, 6,365 yards
  • Contact Porters Park Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Although it starts with one that is driveable but well bunkered, it is a number of longer par 4s that define Porters Park and set its greatest challenges. Its provenance is a little unclear, but it is believed to have been the work of Cuthbert Butchart who also designed West Hill. As so often, some of the course was used for crops during WWII, and its secretary immediately thereafter, CK Cotton, is credited with further improvements. This lush, green, tree-lined and gently undulating course has a stream crossing a number of holes and just two par 5s, at the 10th and 13th. This is a strong and attractive course at a very good members’ club that deserves to be better known.

Royston

Royston Golf Club - Hole 10

The back nine on the downland course at Royston opens with a long par 3 played from an elevated tee

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Royston
  • Founded 1892
  • Architect Harry Vardon
  • GF Round £35
  • Par 70, 5,976 yards
  • Contact Royston Golf Club (opens in new tab)

In a county where the strongest and most famous courses are generally parkland in nature, Royston makes for a surprising and very pleasing alternative. Situated on the northern fringes of the county, the club is blessed with a strong, engaging, downland course. It runs over a north-facing slope overlooking neighbouring Cambridgeshire, and although not long, there are times when the elevation changes and the wind make the precise yardage almost irrelevant. There are particularly strong and characterful short holes at the 5th and 10th, and an unusually long walk from the charming clubhouse to the course which means that most people drive to the adjacent public car park.

Sandy Lodge

Sandy Lodge - Hole 3

Looking back over the third green at Sandy Lodge with the second hole and clubhouse beyond

(Image credit: Andy Hiseman)
  • Location Northwood
  • Founded 1910
  • Architect Harry Vardon
  • GF Round £65-£80 Mon-Thu, £100 Fri-Sun afternoon
  • Par 71, 6,297 yards
  • Contact Sandy Lodge Golf Club (opens in new tab)

In an area not generally blessed with free-draining turf, Sandy Lodge is a rare and very notable exception, largely playable all year round. The course’s evolution dates back to 1908 when its founder, James Francis Markes, tired of playing in muddy, winter conditions and sought to create an inland links that would be enjoyable all year. He enlisted Harry Vardon, who had by then won four of his record six Open Championships, to assist him in the design. Various minor modifications have ensued, and there are now more trees which have changed some of its linksy character, but today’s course remains largely faithful to its roots. The club’s motto is ‘In Arena Virtus’, or virtue in the sand. This is very appropriate as it is the nature of the gently undulating turf that defines the appeal of this charming and varied course.

The Shire London

The Shire London - Hole 7

There is an island green awaiting on the seventh hole at The Shire London

(Image credit: Andy Hiseman)
  • Location Barnet
  • Founded 2007
  • Architect Severiano Ballesteros
  • GF £70 Mon-Thu, £75 Fri, £90we afternoon
  • Par 72, 6,531 yards
  • Contact The Shire London (opens in new tab)

Golfing legend Seve Ballesteros is not quite so well-known for his course design, but there is no doubt that his only creation in England bears all the hallmarks of his flair and unconventional approach. The Shire London is an extremely friendly club where the emphasis is on fun. The course itself is a fascinating mix of six short holes, six par 4s and six par 5s, and there is great drama all the way, climaxing at the par-5 closing hole which rises gently back up to the relaxing clubhouse via a green surrounded by a lake that is S (for Seve)-shaped. This is a course that should appeal to any golfer looking for excitement and drama. The club is not resting on its laurels and recently appointed European Golf Design to begin an upgrade starting in Autumn 2022.

Read The Shire London course review

Welwyn Garden City

Welwyn Garden City - Hole 14

The par-3 fourteenth at Welwyn Garden City is played over a deep and uninviting hollow

(Image credit: Rob Smith)
  • Location Welwyn Garden City
  • Founded 1923
  • Architect FG Hawtree and JH Taylor
  • GF Round £45 Mon-Thu, £50 Fri
  • Par 70, 6,100 yards
  • Contact Welwyn Garden City Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Celebrating its centenary next year, the parkland course at Welwyn Garden City is just across the A1 from Brocket Hall but the courses and club are remarkably different. This is also the original home of arguably the greatest British golfer of the modern era, Sir Nick Faldo. Opening with a super-tough par 4, there is arguably more variety here, with greater change in elevation as you head up towards the handful of holes on the other side of Brockswood Lane. Here, the 12th to the 16th holes include two par 3s and three drive and pitch par 4s. This is effectively the section that makes or breaks a score. Welwyn Garden City offers very good value golf with a course that’s just that bit different.

West Herts

West Herts Golf Club - Hole 16

Looking back over the sunken, punchbowl green on the short sixteenth at West Herts

(Image credit: Andy Hiseman)
  • Location Watford
  • Founded 1890
  • Architect Old Tom Morris, JH Taylor, Alister MacKenzie
  • GF Round £65wd, £78we
  • Par 72, 6,601 yards
  • Contact West Herts Golf Club (opens in new tab)

Although the course borders The Grove as you play the par-4 6th at its northern extremity, the traditional parkland course at West Herts is very different in nature. Originally located on the other side of town, the club moved here in 1897 when Old Tom Morris designed the routing and JH Taylor positioned the bunkers. Alister MacKenzie made further modifications a century ago, since when little has needed to change. There is an unusual par imbalance with 34 going out and 38 back, but variety is the spice of life and three shortish par 5s in the last seven holes present good scoring opportunities.

Close to many of the best golf courses in London, Hertfordshire has golf to suit pretty much all tastes and budgets. With so many courses on offer, then while those we have mentioned are probably the more famous and in many cases the best-established, there are undoubtedly others just waiting to be discovered. We would urge all keen golfers to keep their eyes open and choose what suits them the best.

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,170 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during the year, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. During the 2021-22 review period, Rob has played 34 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.