John O’Gaunt Course Review

The two contrasting courses at John O’Gaunt offer an excellent golfing day out - Rob Smith very much enjoys a visit…

The clubhouse at John O’Gaunt with the final green below

The two contrasting courses at John O’Gaunt offer an excellent golfing day out

John O’Gaunt Course Review

The John O’Gaunt Club at Sandy in Bedfordshire was founded in 1948 and its two courses run either side of the lovely 1850s stately home that serves as its clubhouse.

John O’Gaunt Course

The original design here, the John O’Gaunt, is regarded by many as the finest in the county. With the exception of the short sixteenth, the front nine loops round the back, and a real joy is that you constantly change direction facing new and attractive challenges all the way.

The course opens with three par 4s with the second and third skirting the southern edge of the property.

The second green with All Saint’s Church beyond

The fourth is a cracking par 3, one of just three on the course, and it is worth noting that since my visit it has been made all the more dramatic by the addition of a lake in front of the green.

Looking back over the excellent par-3 fourth

Five and six are excellent two-shotters, stroke index four and two respectively, while the seventh is almost as tough due to its tight drive and change in elevation.

There is an uphill approach to the green at seven

You return to the clubhouse via the gently uphill par 5 ninth, and the back nine opens with another terrific short hole across a valley where it pays not to be short.

The tenth is a cracking short hole

A handful of varied par 4s follows, with thirteen perhaps the pick of the bunch, an extremely tough two-shotter with the stream waiting off the tee and again by the green for anything less than a perfect strike.

The thirteenth green from beyond - stroke index one and 452 yards from the back tee

The penultimate hole is a really interesting short par 5 played to a green site that is surrounded by an old, dry moat.

The seventeenth green - miss it at your peril!

The round finishes with a testing par 4 played up to a well-protected green with the stylish clubhouse beyond.

The final green and the very stately clubhouse


The Carthagena Course was opened in 1980 and is more forgiving while being anything but a pushover. Two of my favourite holes from each nine are…

Looking back from the green at the par-4 first

The sloping green on the par-3 sixth hole

The par-4 sixteenth is a very unusual hole and a really tough par 4 where a fairway wood is required to lay up short of a severe drop down to a green in a wooded dell.

The approach to the shaded green at sixteen is played from way back up on the hill

There is a gentle rise up to the closing hole, a short but uphill par 5

I knew virtually nothing of John O’Gaunt before my visit, but came away with the firm belief that this is an excellent golf club both on and off its two very enjoyable courses.

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for over 45 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012. He specialises in course reviews and travel, and has played more than 1,200 courses in almost 50 countries. In 2021, he played all 21 courses in East Lothian in 13 days. Last year, his tally was 81, 32 of them for the first time. 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 seven and a half... i.e. not the new 9 at Carne! Of those missing, some are already booked for 2024. He has been a member of Tandridge in Surrey for 30 years where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at