The Best of the Best 2004

Robb Report

The Grove
A modern classic at England’s finest new resort.

Kyle Phillips’ work at Kingsbarns, neighbor to hallowed St. Andrews, has been universally hailed as an almost perfect modern example of the Scottish links course. Now the American architect has created his version of an English parkland course at the Grove, a quirky yet fabulous new resort in Hertford-shire, England, just 25 miles outside of London.

Though influenced by the designs of Harry Colt, J.H. Taylor, and James Braid – all of whom built park-land courses near London – Phillips adhered to the resort’s overall theme of commingling new and old. He utilized both natural and artificial land forms in his 18 beguiling holes, and he kept cart paths out of sight to preserve the ambience of a traditional English club. Regardless, the Grove is meant to be walked.

The opening handful of holes plays through a meadow in front of the imposing facade of the resort’s converted 18th-century country house. Through the duration of the front nine, natural wetlands, a man-made lake, the Grand Union Canal, and some modern-era fairway bunkers demand forethought from the tee.

After the turn, the course begins its wooded phase: The drive on 10 must be split between two towering sweet chestnut trees. Farther along, cedars, oaks, and other mature specimens come into play. On 15, a twisting par 4 through the trees, a deceptive sunken area captures slightly undercooked approach shots in front of the green. The 17th is a short but uphill par 5 that, with its prevailing westerly breezes, challenges golfers to go for it in two. Naturally, the penalties for not quite making the green are severe.

Throughout The Grove, Phillips combined the usual assortment of penalties and perils – sand, water, rough – with hazards such as tightly mowed areas around the green collars and contours on the greens. Overall, his modern take on a traditional layout has once again resulted in a fine course, one that genuflects graciously toward the others in its class – all of which are at least 100 years its senior.

– James Y. Bartlett

The Grove 44-1923-294266


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