The course at Upminster Golf Club lives up to the beauty of its historic clubhouse, combining lovely views of the Essex Countryside. This is especially so in spring and autumn, with lively turf, superb greens and brand new bunkers.
This Essex golf course is spread out over the rolling greensward that runs gently down to the River Ingrebourne, combining wide fairways with holes requiring finesse and judgement. Water comes into play, either directly or psychologically, on the holes through which the Ingrebourne winds its pretty way.
It was originally laid out in 1928 by the great Harry (H. A.) Colt who is often described as the founder of golf course architecture in Britain. As well as the course at the Upminster Golf Club in Essex, he also worked on Royal Lytham & St Annes, Royal Portrush, Muirfield, Sunningdale, Royal Worlington and Royal Belfast among many other famous golf courses.
Hole No 1
S.I. 11 (Ladies S.I. 13) 178 yards Par 3 167 yards Par 3 152 yards Par 3
Like the eighteenth, the opening hole is on the East side of Hall Lane which divides these two holes from the rest of the course. With the tee next to the putting green, this pretty hole can require anything from a seven-iron to a hybrid club (ladies 5-iron to 3-wood) depending upon conditions. Err on the left rather than the right but the hole is a friendly start to your round at the Upminster golf club.
Hole No 2
S.I. 3 (Ladies S.I. 17) 454 yards Par 4 396 yards Par 4 410 yards Par 5
Cross the road by the zebra crossing, and enter the gate opening onto the broad vista of the second hole. In passing, note the seventeenth green to your left, making a mental note of the approach to it. The second itself has a generous fairway, inviting and rewarding a good blow with the driver. It often pays to take one or two clubs less than the distance might indicate for the shot into the green sitting below the fairway.
Hole No 3
S.I. 7 (Ladies S.I. 1) 394 yards Par 4 385 yards Par 4 374 yards Par 4
Back a bit and to your left as you leave the second green, the tee of the third offers another opportunity for your driver. This hole plays long, the uphill approach often requiring three shots to get to a green that slopes from right to left as you approach it. Keep your approach a little short and then hope your eye is in for a tricky putt. A five here is no shame.
Hole No 4
S.I. 17 (Ladies S.I. 15) 142 yards Par 3 137 yards Par 3 131 yards Par 3
Again back a bit and to your left, you will find the tee for the first par three. Again the green slopes right to left, less severely than in earlier times but still enough today to make putting a trial. A high shot is required to clear a row of bunkers and land your ball such that it stops rather than rolls off the green.
Hole No 5
S.I. 15 (Ladies S.I. 7) 341 yards Par 4 331 yards Par 4 324 yards Par 4
One of the easiest holes at the Upminster golf club as long as your drive ends up left of centre of the wide fairway. Too far right and you will have to clear greenside bunkers but the correct drive provides a clear opening for a shot that should be one or two clubs less than the distance indicates.
Hole No 6
S.I. 1 (Ladies S.I. 3) 432 yards Par 4 425 yards Par 4 427 yards Par 5
If the fifth was fairly easy, the sixth isn’t; stroke index 1 and it deserves it. Like the second, this is a par five for the ladies. A straight drive through the gap in the trees will leave you another long wood through a similar gap to a raised green. For ordinary mortals, this is a three shot hole. The putting green has places which are flat but look out for subtle borrows elsewhere.
Hole No 7
S.I. 13 (Ladies S.I. 9) 176 yards Par 3 163 yards Par 3 155 yards Par 3
One of the prettiest holes at the Upminster golf club, made all the better by recent work along the banks of the Ingrebourne. However, it is not always easy to identify the approach. Tee up on the right and aim for the centre of the green, avoiding the hedge & trees on the right and the river winding its way along the left. The green slopes towards the tee with the slope increasing near the front.
Hole No 8
S.I. 5 (Ladies S.I. 11) 349 yards Par 4 346 yards Par 4 264 yards Par 4
Another pretty hole, a dogleg left that crosses the Ingrebourne twice. The tee shot for the ladies is straightforward but both they and the men must land their first shot in the correct spot for the second into the stepped green. Trees hide the green from tee shots too long or too short. The fairway opens up to accommodate a fade, but the result usually will mean a lay up before going for the green.
Hole No 9
S.I. 9 (Ladies S.I. 5) 377 yards Par 4 369 yards Par 4 361 yards Par 4
A little walk around the back of the tenth leads to a pretty bridge over the Ingrebourne from which to spot fish. Roach perhaps? From the tee, the fairway leads uphill and again entices the driver out of the bag. Beware the slice as trees await but otherwise things are distinctly WYSIWYG. The shot into the large green is another matter. Usually played blind, the fairway actually descends out of sight and the green is severely stepped, sloping from right to left. It is also protected at the front by a small motte (but no bailey).
Hole No 10
S.I. 12 (Ladies S.I. 10) 393 yards Par 4 377 yards Par 4 387 yards Par 4
A walk through the woods, made lovely by bluebells, stitchwort, wild garlic and cuckoo-pint (Arum maculatum, beware the berries) in season, brings you the downhill tenth. Again reach for the driver and hope for a left of centre landing, but clear the fairway bunker on the left. The second shot calls for a long iron or hybrid for men and perhaps a fairway wood for the ladies. Both must keep clear of the magnificent oak tree on the left and another fairway bunker on the right. The green is large but guarded at the back by the river and on the left by a new greenside bunker.
Hole No 11
S.I. 2 (Ladies S.I. 4) 537 yards Par 5 496 yards Par 5 486 yards Par 5
The first par 5 for men now awaits and one which requires three straight shots from normal mortals with out-of-bounds on the right. The tee shot must avoid another oak tree on the left but then it is clear left until the Ingrebourne re-appears. Direction is more important than length on this hole and many members of Upminster golf club drive with a long iron.
Hole No 12
S.I. 14 (Ladies S.I. 14) 312 yards Par 4 285 yards Par 4 267 yards Par 4
Again a pretty hole, requiring a driver or five-wood for men depending where the tee is set. From the very back tees, many members will even lay up short of the river. From the forward tees, the danger is in going too far, into the fairway bunkers. Having made the correct decision, you are then faced with a tricky green, sloping fast from right to left, with bunkers to catch anything that drifts or runs left. Like the seventh and eighth, this is a thinking hole.
Hole No 13
S.I. 4 (Ladies S.I. 8) 396 yards Par 4 387 yards Par 4 373 yards Par 4
Another hole at the Upminster golf club that calls for thought. This has a 90 degree dogleg right. If you can guarantee a long fade with your driver, then go for it but most of us will be better advised to take a five- or three-wood to clear the corner to open up the green but not run into the trees. The next shot may well be from a hanging lie with the ever-present danger of a slice into the Ingrebourne which appears yet again. The fairway runs down towards the river which enhances this danger. The green slopes towards you and it pays to hit one club more than you think, going in.
Hole No 14
S.I. 10 (Ladies S.I. 2) 351 yards Par 4 336 yards Par 4 342 yards Par 4
Up we go again, with a tee shot to clear the bushes on the left. Driver again and plenty of room. The shot into the green is uphill and the green continues that slope. Add a couple of clubs to that which the distance seems to indicate and end up below the hole if you can. Take a moment to look back down the hill and enjoy the view. Hit it straight and the only discomfort is running out of puff.
Hole No 15
S.I. 6 (Ladies S.I. 6) 425 yards Par 4 412 yards Par 4 398 yards Par 4
The tee is a wonderful vantage point from which to admire the autumn colours which make Upminster such a lovely course, even towards the end of the year. But focus back on golf and reach for that driver once more. A shot left of the apparent fairway is called for as the semi-rough encroaches right which will reduce the run of the ball and out of bounds appears on that side. The fairway tightens up as the hole proceeds and the shot(s) into the green demand accuracy. The green has two levels and both have subtle borrows.
Hole No 16
S.I. 16 (Ladies S.I. 16) 166 yards Par 3 157 yards Par 3 148 yards Par 3
A thinking hole again, as this par three often plays shorter than it looks. However, you do have to reach the green itself as danger lurks to the left (a ditch and the woods) and to the right (a large tree and bunkers.)
Hole No 17
S.I. 8 (Ladies S.I. 12) 467 yards Par 5 448 yards Par 5 416 yards Par 5
From the white tees, you could be forgiven for thinking that you are driving through the Dartford Tunnel. There are trees right and left forming a tight avenue but then the fairway opens up. Keep a little to the right as the hole is in fact a dog-left left which tightens as it goes on. This is a lovely hole and nowhere as difficult as it seems as first. From the yellow tees, many of us could be looking for a par and even the possibility of a birdie. Look back again and enjoy the view with St Andrews Church, the 12th century horned church which gives Hornchurch its name. It is also the furthest south that the ice sheet reached in the Pleistocene glacial period. Thus, as you return to the road and cross it again, you can be sure things are getting warmer!
Hole No 18
S.I. 18 (Ladies S.I. 18) 131 yards Par 3 122 yards Par 3 104 yards Par 3
This is a lovely hole and again a thinker’s hole. Behind the green is the beautiful grade II listed clubhouse, known as Upminster Hall, which dates from around 1500. In front of the green there is a myriad of bunkers. The green slopes away from you as you look at it and there is out-of-bounds to the left and behind. Never fear. Let the beauty inspire you and hit a high shot over the bunkers to stop close to the hole, so deserving your visit to the nineteenth in the lovely Stone Lounge of the welcoming Upminster golf club.