The opening hole at Haste Hill, a marvellous par 3 featuring a tricky stepped green.
Middlesex Golf is blessed with an infinite variety of remarkably good golf around its 31 clubs and it would be an unforgiveable oversight to ignore the role played by the public/municipal facilities in that number, all of whom offer a high-quality version of the game to both intrepid beginners, golfing nomads and people of modest means for whom a membership at a ‘private’ members club might be outside what their financial circumstances allow. Of course, there are also established golfers who enjoy the less formal version of golf on a public links, which only goes to prove to us that all ‘there is no right, or wrong way, to enjoy the great game of golf’ and public golf is as important an entity as any other, possibly even more so.
I do not know what the exact percentage of established golfers is, who begin their golfing journey on a public municipal links, but a straw poll of my golfing contact list suggests an overwhelming set of modern era golfers start their often-lifelong love affair with the game on a public facility. These personalities include Club Chairmen and Directors, Club Captains and Golf Professionals, Greenkeepers, Stewards, the list goes on…. Many subsequently making their home at quite grand golfing establishments.
Public/Municipal golf is arguably the cradle of the modern game and that fact must never be overlooked or underestimated by anybody who has an interest in the future of the game.
My own relationship with golf started at Haste Hill in 1980, just making solid contact with the ball took up most of my attention, that I was playing on a tract of land that rolled over a beautiful part of the Middlesex countryside did not occur to me to be as important as it might well should have been, perhaps I was too young to appreciate the beauty of the golf course and was far too focussed on my initial and utterly feeble attempts to play golf, a young man’s competitive trap I suppose. Never-the-less, Haste Hill left a lasting impression as my golfing journey eventually led me to Captaincy at a ‘Private’ members club.
1902 Open Champion Sandy Herd, long time professional at Moor Park.
Designed by St. Andrews man Alexander 'Sandy' Herd, the 'Ruislip-Northwood Municipal Golf Course' opened as a 9-hole course, on Saturday 27th July 1929. Sandy Herd was the 1902 Open Champion, he finished in the top 10 on a further 19 occasions. He was the golf professional at nearby Moor Park and would likely have won many more majors had he not been at his peak at the same time as the Great Triumvirate of Golf, Harry Vardon, James Braid & John Henry Taylor. Herd was also the first golfer to win the Open using the new Haskell rubber-cored ball.
Sandy Herd was subsequently commissioned to extend the course to 18 holes, re-opening on Wednesday 20th July 1932.
The “new’ clubhouse sketched by Golf Illustrated, 1932 and today.
The course opening in 1929 and subsequent extension in 1932 placed Haste Hill in the midst of the Golden Age of Strategic Golf Design, that era saw some of the greatest designs in the modern game laid out, many of which remain household names still today. By use of the burn set diagonally across fairways Haste Hills’ strategic pedigree is there for all to see, it tempts the Tiger to bite off just a little more than he should, with dire consequences should he fail. News that Sandy Herd assisted famed golf architect Dr Alister Mackenzie at Wakefield GC comes as no surprise, Mackenzie’s influence at Haste Hill is surely evident.
Pine trees on the back 9 offer a Surrey-esque feel.
The golf course at Haste Hill is home to the attached Haste Hill Golf club, such clubs playing over public links they do not own are a 500 year old tradition, The R&A at St. Andrews do not own their golf course and the several clubs that frequent the links at Carnoustie are also tenants not owners. There are many more examples and the active members at Haste Hill GC perpetuate this tradition in Middlesex along with fellow clubs a Brent Valley, Uxbridge etc.
Haste Hill has to constantly to justify its very its existence to its local authority during straightened financial times which must be a huge burden to those who are active within the attached golf club, but thus far Hillingdon Council have perpetuated the close to 100-year tradition of golf over Haste Hill, and long may that prevail.
A joyous view from the summit at the 6th, one of the most inviting drives in Middlesex.
Reasons to Play
A ‘less is more’ ethos would widely benefit much grander golf courses than Haste Hill, and free from the hand of the tinkering committee man eager to make his mark Haste Hill is golf distilled to its essential components. The course is sparsely but effectively bunkered, many greens retain interesting features, the laterally stepped 1st and stepped 17th with its step running along the median of the green, require you hit the correct side to avoid a testy but nevertheless fun filled putt. A couple of driveable par 4s and a meandering burn is used to excellent strategic effect, it tempts the greedy Tiger to hit it just a little closer, or even over, and set up the easier approach. Failure results in disaster.
Pine trees offer a thoroughly Surrey-esque appeal in places and whilst on the face of it the score card might seem to offer and insipidly short course yardage, that yardage hides what is an extremely interesting golf course for all classes of golfer. Everyone walks off the 18th green at Haste Hill with a smile. Yes, it’s that good…..
The nicely bunkered 18th green set into the hillside, the diagonal burn temps the tiger.
Haste Hill is open to all and offers a range of very affordable green fees to Juniors, Adult and Senior golfers.
Annual membership categories at Haste Hill GC range from £30 for juniors to £110 for adults and include affiliation fees to Middlesex Golf, England Golf and the NAPGC. Green Fees are extra and paid directly to the Council.
Haste hill golf Club: http://www.hastehillgolfclub.co.uk/
Sandy herd: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Herd
Author - Lee Patterson