Huntercombe Golf Club Course Review

Huntercombe Golf Club in Oxfordshire offers something a little different courtesy of its distinctive Willie Park Junior grass 'pots'...

Huntercombe Golf Club - 15th hole
Huntercombe's 15th showcases the Willie Park Junior grass 'pots'
(Image credit: Jason Livy)

Huntercombe Golf Club Course Review

GF Round: £65-£100; Day: £100wd, £120we
Par 70, 6,310 yards
Slope 126
GM Verdict – A tucked-away course with many strong holes and a unique feel thanks to the many grass ‘pots’ or hollows that flank fairways and greens.
Favourite Hole – The downhill par-4 2nd makes you realise how high up you are, serving up wonderful views and an inviting drive before a slightly trickier approach.

Huntercombe Golf Club - 4th hole

Looking down on the 4th hole with its distinctive grass 'pots' or hollows to the right of the green

(Image credit: Jason Livy)

Originally a heathland layout with hardly a tree on site, this par-70 Willie Park Junior design 15 miles south-east of Oxford has grown up over the years into a timeless gem that deserves to be far more widely known. The club, home to one of the best golf courses in Oxfordshire, was founded in 1901, and its beautiful and easy-walking course is a wonderful place to play. Unusually, it begins with quite a short par 3, before the one relatively gentle change in elevation on the dramatic downhill 2nd and demanding uphill 3rd.

Huntercombe Golf Club - 5th hole

The tricky dogleg-right 5th brings you back to the clubhouse

(Image credit: Jason Livy)

Having returned to the clubhouse at the excellent dogleg 5th, the next two skirt the Ridgeway which you then cross to play holes 8 to 13, the last of which borders the excellent new practice ground. The short par-4 at 17 offers a birdie chance, while the contoured greens throughout are another very strong feature that will ask questions of your game and keep you on your toes. The single-story, characterful clubhouse is full of charm, and the club is currently working with leading course architect, Tim Lobb, the aim being to reinstate some of Park’s lost design features and review the entire landscape philosophy for the future.

Huntercombe Golf Club - 17th hole

The short par-4 17th is potentially drivable but well-protected by a raised green

(Image credit: Jason Livy)

Having twice won The Open Championship in the late 1890s, Park Junior progressed his career to become one of the earliest leading golf course architects. The Old Course at Sunningdale is probably his most famous creation, and he bought the land at Huntercombe at just about the same time before building the course in just seven months. James Bond author Ian Fleming, and one of the greatest golf commentators and writers of all time, Henry Longhurst, were both members here.

Huntercombe Golf Club - 13th hole

The par-4 13th is the last of the holes before you cross back over the Ridgeway

(Image credit: Jason Livy)

Huntercombe is consistently strong throughout, and it was not really the style of the time to create signature holes unless the natural topography dictated one. There is, however, a most definite and distinctive signature feature; the Willie Park Junior ‘pots’. With just 13 sand bunkers on the course, there are a further 100-plus areas where Park created hazards that can best be described as grass bunkers. Varying greatly in size and shape, some are tricky to see from a distance and some are either lined with or home to gorse and other trees and shrubs. They add greatly both to the visual impact and the strategic approach. You are also just about guaranteed to see red kites - the club emblem - while playing this thoroughly enjoyable classic.

 

 

Rob Smith
Rob Smith

Rob Smith has been playing golf for over 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played well over 1,100 courses in almost 50 countries. Since travel restarted in May 2021, he has played around 80 different courses, more than 40 for the first time. This includes 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of his main roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but 10. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com