Luton Hoo Golf Course Review

The bunkerless course at Luton Hoo is a rare hybrid of parkland and inland links - Rob Smith takes a look…

Luton Hoo - an intriguing mix of the old and the new

The bunkerless course at Luton Hoo is a rare hybrid of parkland and inland links - Rob Smith takes a look…

Luton Hoo Golf Course Review

The attractive course at Luton Hoo (opens in new tab) starts and ends in the estate’s beautiful Capability Brown gardens which brought with it an unusual design restriction. Earth moving was only granted for greens and tees, and while bunkers could have been installed in the land further out, for consistency it was chosen not to do so.

The result is something of a strange brew; a new course with no bunkers (opens in new tab). It was also built without the removal of a single tree. Rather, 1,500 oak, beech and sweet chestnut saplings were transplanted from other areas of the estate, creating a course that is partly mature parkland and partly modern-American in appearance.

The opening hole is a tough par 4 through the park where anything too far left is likely to be blocked out.

The green at the opening hole is tucked round to the left

You then cross to the more open land which is home for the next seven holes. The second is a gentle par 5, the third a challenging par 4 played between two lakes, and the fourth is the first short hole, played back over the water.

Long and left is better than short and right at the par-3 fourth

A pair of par 4s come next, and the seventh is another attractive short hole where the water really ought not to come into play… but too often will!

The par-3 seventh is played to a wide green

The eighth is the longest hole on the course and leads you back into the park where the front nine concludes with a two-shotter to a narrow green framed by specimen trees.

The ninth is back in Capability Brown territory

The tenth takes you back out of the park again, where the eleventh is a snaking par 5 which the big hitters may try and reach in two while most of us will have to position our lay-up between two water hazards.

Think carefully about the lay-up at the par-5 eleventh

The thirteenth is a monster par 3, 271 yards from the championship tee, and unusually for such a hole it is also stroke index one.

The very attractive ‘short’ thirteenth

Fourteen doglegs from right to left, fifteen is the final short hole, and you then play back-to-back par 5s heading back into the trees.

Trees are the main defence on the back nine such as here at the seventeenth

The course is home to the Bridgestone Challenge on the Challenge Tour (opens in new tab), and it concludes with a medium-length par 4 where positioning from the tee is important in order not to be blocked out.

The final green with the luxurious hotel in the background

The historic clubhouse is home to Adam’s Brasserie and there are plenty of other sporting and recreational activities at Luton Hoo (opens in new tab).

The sumptuous hotel itself with luxurious accommodation, spa and fine dining in the Wernher Restaurant makes for a very appealing and different golfing break.

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.