British golf is blessed with enormous strength in depth, and clubs such as Dunstable Downs have much to offer
Dunstable Downs Course Review
Blessed with a free-draining downland course designed by James Braid, Dunstable Downs Golf Club (opens in new tab) is situated 800 feet above sea level in the Chiltern Hills, not far from the M1 to the north-west of London. Its height means there are plenty of far-reaching views such as at Hockley (opens in new tab) and North Wilts (opens in new tab), and there is an unusual configuration with its only par 5s at the first and third, both nines concluding with a short hole, and the back nine featuring no fewer than eight consecutive par 4s.
The opening hole lets you open the shoulders from the off - a 3-shotter played from an elevated tee.
There is some respite at the lovely short hole that follows where distance control is key.
It’s then time to get all guns blazing again as you play the monster par-5 third, down to the north-east corner of the course.
Two medium-length par 4s punctuated by a par 3 follow, all well bunkered and demanding careful club selection.
The eighth is a super-tough par 4 where you probably need to play not two but three good shots to find the elevated green.
I'm a sucker for an attractive par 3 (opens in new tab), and the final hole on the front nine is a peach - no length at all, but extremely well protected and with a setting that would grace any golf course picture gallery.
The back nine is played along the top of the Downs and opens with three lengthy par 4s where making a good connection is vital.
Three shorter par 4s come next, and I really liked the down and up fifteenth where the approach is likely to be blind.
The next two run side-by-side, away from and immediately back to the clubhouse.
Unusually, the course finishes with a par 3, 170 yards from the back tee and played over the entrance drive to a green surrounded by sand, much of it hard to see from the tee.
I thoroughly enjoyed my round at Dunstable Downs (opens in new tab) and a bite to eat in the friendly clubhouse afterwards. It reminded me that we shouldn’t only seek out the big names as there are so many hidden gems all around us.
We golfers are supremely lucky in that we will never run out of attractive and interesting courses to play.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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