Essendon Country Club review

Evolving Essendon is making the game attractive for all

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 20 May 2015
0

"Making golf attractive for all". That is the message coming out of Hertfordshire's thriving Essendon Country Club.

Once unloved and underinvested for the best part of 15 years, Essendon Country Club turned the tables under new ownnership three years ago and has not looked back since. 

From improving its two dramatically different courses with new bunkers, tee boxes and unique "B greens" to investing in a new driving range, swing studio, clubhouse and changing rooms, Essendon Country Club is putting its member at the heart of every decision it now makes.

"Making golf attractive for all." That is the message coming out of Hertfordshire's thriving Essendon Country Club.

Unloved and underinvested for the best part of 15 years, Essendon turned the tables when going under new ownership three years ago and has not looked back. 

From improving its two dramatically different courses with new bunkers, tee boxes and unique "B greens" to investing in qualified coaching staff,  a driving range, swing studio, changing rooms, clubhouse and more exciting menus, Essendon now prides itself on its members.

Having inherited 268 members in 2011 on top of budget cuts, de-motivated staff and a quiet clubhouse, Essendon now boasts 837 members in tangent with ongoing course improvements, empowered workers and a buoyant 19th hole. 

Female members have increased from just three to 112 and junior members have risen from six to 55 - testament to the club receiving England Golf's coveted Golf Mark award in 2013. 

Essendon is now striving to become the "best members club in Hertfordshire". 

After a long, weaving drive through the course from the moment you enter the club, you are greeted through the double-door entrance by friendly staff and a spacious pro shop that features all the latest equipment and apparel. It even provides access to the latest new craze in golf - the GolfBoard

The clubhouse appears big, bright and boisterous from the moment you step inside, with ample HD television screens dotted around the restaurant. Smart casual T-shirts and golf shoes were also spotted in the clubhouse. 

But most exciting is the golf. 

Essendon's New Course, opened in 1992 by Landscape Design Co, was our favourite of the two tracks because it was a little more testing, slightly prettier with more water hazards and quirky in the sense that 16 of its holes possess double greens, also known as "B greens."

This unsual design feature was introduced at the behest of its former owners but it does nothing to mask the fact the New Course is a fine test of golf for even the most talented of players. 

The greens were exceptional and we were told they will only get even purer over the summer.

From the surface up, the greenkeeping staff have lined the new bunkers with a specialist rubber crumb lining that allows for the drainage of water and an all-round improved consistent playing surface. 

It is still a work in progress, but the New Course should look radiant in a couple of years from now. It would not be a surprise to see it host a big tournament one day.

Running adjacent to the New Course is the Fred Hawtree-designed Old Course that was opened back in 1976.

Although reasonably short and slightly more open off the tee, it still offers a stiff challenge with an assortment of tricky holes meandering through mature parkland. The greens were not quite as pure, however. 

Like the New Course, it was very much in good condition and clear to see that the club is priding itself on maintaining high standards. 

As part of Essendon's greenkeeping staff, the club has set aside one team to look after the New Course and another to cater for the Old Course so that each greenkeeper has their own objectives and goals. 

It was great to see several of the greenkeepers stopping what they were doing to interact with players to see what they made of the course improvements - something many golf clubs in the UK could benefit from. 

Verdict

Essendon Country Club is flourishing and it is easy to see why.

Members and visitors are placed at the forefront of every investment whether that be from course improvements and beginner sessions to summer parties and exciting menus.

Green fees start from £45 for visitors and that looks terrific value for money, particularly on the New Course. 

If you are ever in the Hertfordshire area, we can assure you will likely not be disappointed when teeing it up at Essendon. 

For more information visit www.essendoncc.co.uk

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