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  • Neil White


For many years, players of golf courses designed by the likes of Alister McKenzie, James Braid, Donald Ross and Harry Colt didn’t realise that they were on hallowed turf.

Indeed, committee members up and down the land thought they could improve their work, so added their own features.

Only in the last 30 years or so, has the genius of the great architects been truly recognised and inspired clubs such as Beaconsfield to turn back the clock.

Here, management has been working with Martin Hawtree, a renowned Colt expert with an eye to returning to the original concept, especially the bunkers.

Yep, I am a third of the way through my top 100 odyssey and it seems that I have stepped over the threshold of geekdom.

I can even spot a Colt course thanks to his trademark sand traps which bisect a fairway at an angle and can be seen on Beaconsfield’s second hole.

When I set out on my quest, I didn’t think I would ever be able to appreciate such architectural nuances but here I was at Beaconsfield, happily nerding away with my host, a Golf Monthly panellist.

In 2020, when I began my challenge Beaconsfield was in England’s top 100 courses but dropped out of a recent update, having had problems with its greens.

I can testify that any issues have now been resolved. Its putting surfaces were so quick, it took me nine holes to judge the pace.

In many ways, Beaconsfield is traditional. Its gorgeous clubhouse has been in situ since golf was first played here in 1914.

But while it is looking back to the days of its origins in one sense, it is moving on in others. Thus, there are plans afoot to create a balcony to the clubhouse and I loved the land art installations around the course – they give it a unique feel.

It was also a delight to see so many juniors at the club on the day we visited and that members are proud of nurturing talent – after all, this was the club of current Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald.

I had a curious playing day at Beaconsfield – with the worst opening nine of my top 100 travels and the best back nine.

The former was a frustration because there are plenty of opportunities to score – after the rather intimidating opening hole – a 436-yard par-four off the blue tees.

The presentation of the course is top-notch and that is particularly evident on the intriguing dogleg sixth with its criss-cross patterned fairways and green entrance.

This is a cracking stroke index one which bends around trees before falling into a steep dip and rising again to the green.

This is the start of a strong run of holes with the next a well-protected uphill par-three which was against the wind when we played it. I found the rough to the right of a green that was so quick that even a decent chip ran well past the target.

The back nine impressed because of its variety, beginning with the par-five tenth which has Beaconsfield’s trademark undulations, dipping from right to left.

The 11th is a lovely par-three with a dangerous chasm to the right and a false front to the green which lulled my compadre and me into playing just short of the flag.

The 15th is a short par-four tempting big-hitters to try to reach the two-tier putting surface with their drives and is followed by a long and tricky downhill par-three.

In my opinion, the 18th is the best hole on the course as the clubhouse comes back into view, providing the backdrop to a hole with typical Colt bunkers on the fairway which slips down to a green framed by bushes.

It completed a lovely relaxing round followed by a tasty baguette on a veranda overlooking its picturesque practice area.

Beaconsfield is working hard to re-establish itself in the top 100. I am pleased it was already on my list because I very much enjoyed visiting this historic club.

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