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Brocket Hall - In a class of its own

One of England’s finest stately homes and country estates has developed into one of this country’s premier golfing destinations, with two superb 18-hole courses, a Michelin-starred restaurant and luxury accommodation to boot. And, to celebrate its 250th anniversary, Brocket Hall is offering a number of Stay & Play packages to tempt the discerning golfer to this leafy Hertforshire enclave.

Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire, where it is claimed you can play championship golf and live like a lord, this year celebrates the 250th anniversary of its stately home – the focal point of this most prestigious of clubs.

To mark the occasion, Golf International is offering readers the chance to sample the delights of the club and country estate with this exclusive competition to win a stay at Melbourne Lodge, dine in Auberge du Lac – its elegant award-winning restaurant – and play its fabulous courses.

Brocket Hall’s golf courses are two of the finest in the south of England and are the cornerstone of a thriving club which opens its gates to visiting golfers and company golf days. The two courses provide a completely distinct challenge in stunning surroundings that traverse parkland and ancient woodland.

Brocket Hall itself has one of the most intriguing histories of any of the great houses of Britain. No other can claim to have been the home to two British prime ministers, played host to George IV and witnessed the infamous Lady Caroline Lamb introduce the Waltz to England in their Ballroom.

The Brocket Hall that is known today was built by the renowned architect James Paine for the owner, Sir Matthew Lamb in 1760. However, the Hall stands on the site of two predecessors, the original of which was built in 1239. One thing that hasn’t changed over the centuries is the warm welcome that Brocket Hall has always extended to its visitors.

Passing through imposing wrought iron gates into the glorious surroundings of the English stately home and country estate and it’s quickly apparent that Brocket Hall is in a class of its own. With the two championship standard courses, a state-of-the-art golf academy, Michelin starred restaurant and ancestral home, it is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable and breathtakingly beautiful clubs in the land. Brocket Hall lies 22 miles from Central London in Welwyn, Hertfordshire where two individual courses created by legendary designers bear the names of the two British Prime Ministers – Lord Melbourne and Lord Palmerston – who once resided at the hall.

The Melbourne is the creation of design duo Peter Alliss and Clive Clark who have fashioned an outstanding golf course within a parkland terrain. Fittingly, the course begins beside the 18th century hall with a short but daunting par-four opening hole that runs alongside the Broadwater lake which is fed by the River Lea.

In fact, water is the distinguishing feature of the Melbourne Course and as early as the par three 2nd hole you are faced with the first of many challenging shots over the Broadwater to a green situated close to the opposite bank. Difficult greens and supreme short holes – the best perhaps being the 14th – characterise a course that is popular with members and visitors alike, and which demand respect and precision throughout the round. Nowhere more so than at the par-four 16th, possibly the most difficult hole on the course, which necessitates crossing the Broadwater for the third time.

The golfer faces a similar challenge on the par-five 18th, where the round is completed in spectacular fashion, befitting of the environs. What appears to be a straightforward hole from the tee quickly escalates into a daunting and strategic challenge as you face a tough decision – whether to traverse the Broadwater in two or lay-up. Whatever the result, the ferry ride across the water to reach the final destination is a fitting end to an unforgettable round.

The Donald Steel-designed Palmerston Course makes for a wonderful contrast to the original layout and – at 7,080 yards – is a serious test of championship golf. One of this country’s finest course architects, Steel makes impressive use of the avenues of ancient trees (including Hornbeam, Beech and Pine) while bold bunkering and the contouring of the greens adds to the strategic challenge. It’s easy to understand why many who have played the Palmerston make favourable comparisons with Woburn’s Marquess Course, and, as it continues to mature, will surely rank as one of the finest inland courses in the country.

The Palmerston features a collection of outstanding holes, notably at the par-five 6th, sensitively hewn out of ancient woodland and featuring one of the tightest tee shots on the golf course (not to mention one of the toughest of approaches to a slick green!). The 8th is a wonderful short hole, framed – as so many holes on the Palmerston are – by glorious trees. The mood changes around the turn, where the course opens up a little inviting you to do the same, attack the course and really enjoy the rarified playing experience. Caution will need to be exercised on the greens, however, all built to USGA specifications and all devilishly quick and riddled with subtle undulations. The quality of your iron play will be tested from start to finish, the approach shot at the par-four 12th notable for the fact that you have to negotiate a chalk face some 100 yards from the green. Just one of many memorable shots to be enjoyed.

The Palmerston was designed to really test the range and skill of golfers and nowhere is this more evident than at the closing hole, a snaking par-five which calls for a solid drive, a well-placed second and a precise pitch to a closely guarded putting surface – the appropriate conclusion to a testing but thoroughly pleasurable round on a layout that will tease and seduce golfers of all abilities.

THE PALMERSTON GOLF ACADEMY

Over the last 15 years, The Palmerston Golf Academy has successfully nurtured and developed the careers of many budding golf stars. The comprehensive teaching programmes – designed for golfers of all ages and abilities – are run by three PGA professionals, headed up by Keith Wood. Their holistic approach encompasses all aspects of the game including swing, short game, psychology, the body and club fitting. The Palmerston Golf Academy has areas for working on the long-game, a chipping and bunker area, a practice putting green and a six-hole Par 3 course for sharpening up iron play and short-game skills.

PLAY & STAY

Residential golf packages are available year round at Brocket Hall, with luxurious accommodation in Melbourne Lodge, located close to the clubhouse on the estate. What’s more, to commemorate Brocket’s 250th anniversary, the most exclusive Stay & Play opportunity is for the first time being offered to golfers who want to live like a lord while entertaining friends, colleagues and family in the impressive environs of one of the finest stately homes in England.

For aficionado’s of cuisine, golf and dining packages are also available at Auberge du Lac, the Michelin-starred restaurant overlooking the 18th green on the Melbourne, while stay & play packages at Melbourne Lodge are also available throughout the year. For further information on residential golf including the Stately Home Golf Package contact the Brocket Hall Event Office on 01707 368727 or events@brocket-hall.co.uk.

For all other bookings call 01707 394994, email: golfreservations@brocket-hall.co.uk, or visit www.brocket-hall.co.uk

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine











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