Architect: Willie Park Jr.
Every year my appreciation for golf course architecture develops and matures. And it is my regular returns to Huntercombe that instills my love of the game and the minds that have shaped it. There will be an inordinate amount of hyperbole in this piece, but Huntercombe really is THAT good.
This Willie Park Jnr design is a playground for golf. A perfect juxtaposition against its traditionalist aspect. Playing Huntercombe should be like listening to Bohemian Rhapsody, you have to experience it every now and then to appreciate its nuanced brilliance and flamboyant expressions.
I have battled with this course over the years, what with my inability to hit the straight ball in my youth, but thanks to a number of changes, in addition to a concoction of hard work and determination, the Driver is now my friend. It is a well known fact that you enjoy the game more, the easier you make it. And in order to achieve this feat, the game needs to be played from the fairway – at this course more than others. The fairground undulations, penal grass bunkers and ancient oaks await you and your pesky ball. However, like I said, the Driver played its part and a comfy 75 did a world of good towards my ability to appreciate Willie Park Jr’s madness.
6ft-high tiers, thumb prints and funnel pins; the greens at Huntercombe are compelling. It’s the kind of stuff you would draw as a bored daydreaming schoolboy in Chemistry class (I didn’t like Chemistry). It definitely makes you concentrate and really consider where you can and cannot leave your ball. Successful or unsuccessful you pick your ball out of the cup and proceed to play as many other unfathomable and fascinating shots as possible before the foursomes group behind get too flustered. I really could play Huntercombe every day and never get bored.
The thing that blew me away the most however, was the conditioning. Huntercombe lies on glorious chalky ground and so there wasn’t a hint of a squelch in mid-November. It really was a sight to behold, and the grass coverage on the greens was exemplary. How lucky we were to tee it up on a classic, surrounded by friends, against a backdrop of autumnal flaming amber. The setting was theatrical, vivid even.
Thanks to Will for being our generous and gracious host. Many more rounds to come.