There’s a legendary story around these parts that Henry Cotton rated the third hole at Mill Hill Golf Club as “one of the best golf holes I have ever played.” He may well have said that, after all, the third hole is a tricky little gem, but whether or not you believe in legends, one thing is for real, Mill Hill Golf Club is a hidden treasure of a course with an illustrious past.
Designed by Abercrombie back in 1923, its position, almost a 1 iron from London’s Elstree Studios, together with a generous helping of BBC membership, ensured a fair share of famous faces were always around and about. Even a few scenes from the cult 60s TV show The Avengers were filmed at the club; the old framed stills given pride of place in the clubhouse, itself an old Coaching House, a staging post on the main road into London.
On first glance, the heart sinks as you take the underpass under the busy A1 but a few strides later through a small wooden gate you enter the glades and hollows of Scratch Wood and all is well with the world.
Set within 145 acres of dense woodland, every hole of Mill Hill Golf Club is an individual voyage of discovery such is the discreet layout, with a brief encounter of a narrow brook running through more than a few holes.
The first is deceptively wide and generous, fooling a first time player into mistakenly thinking the next 17 would be similar, leading to a green tucked tidily into a corner. You will remember the greens at Mill Hill, fast and in some cases with wickedly punitive borrows.
The short second could perhaps be a signature hole, played over a small lake with a family of swans as spectators and a ring of forest behind. Cotton’s narrow third next, the brook on the right and across the fairway and deep forest on the left; just an iron off the tee for safety then. The next brings a sharp dog leg guarded on both sides by forest and then the course opens up a little to an uphill par 5, the green ringed around three sides by out of bounds.
For me, this is a course of two halves; a front nine in the most part not too long but fairly narrow and the back nine longer but perhaps a lot more generous for the awry hitter. My favourite hole? The tricky 17th. A lovely sweeping downhill dog leg fairway leads to another lake and a challenging downhill lie in front of it to an uphill green guarded with bunkers. You have been warned.
Mill Hill Golf Club is an excellent course, highly respected by those in the know, easily within reach of central London and far more affordable than the many celebrity status courses around London’s outskirts. And you never know, you just might bump into someone famous too.
Course length: 6247 yards par 70.
How much is it to play at Mill Hill Golf Club?
Membership from £295-£1,395 for 7 day membership with a ‘points’ based system for those golfers that would like to be members but do not play very often.
Standard round fees £16 – £32 Monday to Friday £18-£40 Weekends and Bank Holidays
Club pro shop: 0044 208 959 7261