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THE GROVE: Is That All? New
« on: May 25, 2014, 07:36:33 AM »
Former home of the Earls of Clarendon, The Grove is a high end resort with a well respected course on the grounds.  Most famous for hosting the 2006 American Express Championship, the scene of yet another dominant performance by Tiger Woods, The Grove was opened for play in 2003.  The high profile architect, Kyle Phillips, is the designer of record.  Philips designed three UK courses in quick succession in the early noughts, the most famous of which is Kingsbarns.  The third, Dundonald Links, is a low key design originally conceived as a links outpost for members of Loch Lomond.   

I donít tend to gravitate toward modern resort golf, but The Grove is somewhat alluring because of the reputation Kingsbarns enjoys and the work Phillips carried out at California Club.  I was expecting a well designed course and that is exactly what The Grove is.  Everything works just like it says on the tin, yet The Grove lacks a sense of bewilderment and wonder.  Ultimately the course is a series of met expectations.  One canít exactly complain, but it is equally difficult to praise The Grove. 

The first is a fairly straight forward short 4 opener, but I did like the dead ground shy of the green. The reader may also just make out the swale back right of the green.  Both of these elements were intermettently strung through the design and generally to great effect. 

The second wasn't terribly impressive, quite a wide fairway and generous green, two trademarks of The Grove.  #3 is a bit tighter slipping between sand and water.  The approach too is more exacting.  One aspect of the design I found quite intriguing is the use of sand or shaping to draw one's eye away from the green; creating visual width which is superfluous.  In this case, there is an odd swale right of the green. I thought it might be better to include this as part of the green, adding a wow factor that The Grove sadly lacks. 

Not a looker, but #4 is a good par 3 among a set which could be argued is the highlight of the design. 

For mine, the best hole on the front nine, the 5th features an attractive dome green. The drawback of the hole is ever-present road map bunkering.  The property does have interest and the shaping generally adds to the interest, however, the bunkering is painfully predictable.   

The double dogleg three-shot 6th isn't of particular interest.  The 7th though has an unusual green.  The plateau green is very shallow and the centre section runs away from play.  There are very difficult to access hole locations on either wing. This was the one hole which really made me take notice. 

Another example of visual width on the 8th. 

The side ends with an uphill par 5.  On the second shot, the player must choose which side of the curious mound best suits his strategy.  In reality, the decision is more likely dependant on the position of the drive.  The back nine starts in interesting fashion between two lovely trees, from memory, the only time trees should come into play.  There is a run-out around the 250 mark after which the hole turns abruptly left.

Another par five follows, swinging well left, the green is heavily fortified by shag and sand. 

The 12th didn't do much for me, but I did like the scalloped shaping shy of the green.

The straight forward one-shot 13th does offer a chance to hook a runner around the sand.

Another slight surprise, #14 is far tighter than it looks from the tee, or perhaps I had been lulled a bit by the previous amount of space. I did notice the low cops, but couldn't be bothered to look at the guide book  8)

The 15th moves left over sand to a slightly raised green.  I am not sure why the the front right part of the platform isn't part of the green, it could potentially create interesting angles. Below is a typical green.  While well manicured, I thought the greens could have been a bit more adventurous. 

#16, another good short hole.

The back nine is better than the front, but the par 5s are generally not holes which deserve much discussion.  Onto 18, another perfectly solid hole which just about sums up The Grove.     

Well, The Grove, it lacks pizzaz and features no All England candidates.  I think the next time I head north up the M25, I want it to be for Denham.  Don't get me wrong.  The Grove is good golf.  The service is genuinely friendly.  The conditioning, especially given the torrential rain recently, is excellent.  I liked the whispy grass the club maintains.  However, like the many wierd trees planted in recent years, it all seems a bit superficial and lacking in character or spirit - even.  By all means, if you have a surplus of money laying about, give The Grove a go, but don't expect to see anything exciting, new or different.   2014

« Last Edit: February 29, 2016, 04:09:13 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

John Percival

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Re: THE GROVE: Is That All?
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2014, 08:08:33 AM »
Could the monochromatic color cause some of your malaise?
While your pics show some whispy grass that turn brown. The coloring of turf and trees almost overwhelms.
Perfect example is the pic of 18. If that whispy grass was golden/brown fescue short/left and long/right (near the green), imagine how it would visually frame the hole.
Perhaps some plantings of other colors, like gorse, or larger areas of fescue, or enlarged bunkers with exposed sand would make the course 'pop' more.

Ryan Coles

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Re: THE GROVE: Is That All?
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2014, 08:28:02 AM »

What were the greens like? Have they managed to keep out the Poa?

Niall C

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Re: THE GROVE: Is That All?
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2014, 10:16:22 AM »

Many thanks for yet another excellent tour. Agree with John's comments above, there certainly seems to be a uniformity of green. Do you think that is due primarily to the weather or do you think the conditioning will mean its always like that ?

Also to be Mr Pedantic, Dundonald was originally conceived and indeed built as a standalone pay and play links course named Southern Gailes. I know, I've still got the hat with the legend on the back "The Last Links" which was a reference to Michael Bonnallacks statement that Kingsbarns would likely be the last links ever built. Quite ironic really when you consider the hybrid nature of Kingsbarns.


Thomas Dai

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Re: THE GROVE: Is That All?
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2014, 01:55:47 PM »

Nice photo-tour as usual.

I get the impression you won't be going back unless someone else is paying or a large lottery win occurs! :)

At theses prices, and yes, I do appreciate it's top notch for condition and service and close to London, I wonder what % of those who play the course actually pay out of their own pocket to do so rather than are treated to freebee business/society golf?

Summer Rates | 6 April - 26 October (per website)
Monday - Wednesday   £165
Thursday - Sunday (Prime Time 8 - 10am Sat & Sun only)   £185  (£195)
Twilight* - Monday - Sunday   £99
Pre-Twilight* - Monday - Sunday

Makes me wonder as all the greens are USGA spec and there's lots of drainage around and the conditioning is top-notch what would the course be like in the winter, and thus what the winter prices would be.


John Mayhugh

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Re: THE GROVE: Is That All?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2014, 01:58:07 PM »
Thanks for the tour and commentary.  Just looking at the photos on their website and the pricing was enough to discourage my interest, but you've sealed it for me.  Too much else in the area that appeals.


  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: THE GROVE: Is That All?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2014, 03:16:36 PM »
 Ultimately the course is a series of met expectations.  One canít exactly complain, but it is equally difficult to praise The Grove.

That's a great line.  I won't steal it for The Confidential Guide [only one of the four of us has seen the course, and it wasn't me], but only out of respect.  When I get the online edition up and running someday, I hope you will remember it.

James Boon

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Re: THE GROVE: Is That All?
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2014, 03:30:30 PM »
Thanks Sean,

The Grove was actually the first photo tour I posted on here (how times change) so here it is again for a few more pictures...,34323.0.html

Nothing more to add really as you have summed it up pretty well already.


2023 Highlights: Hollinwell (Notts), Brora, Aberdovey, Royal St Davids, Woodhall Spa, Broadstone, Parkstone, Cleeve, Painswick, Minchinhampton, Hoylake

"It celebrates the unadulterated pleasure of being in a dialogue with nature while knocking a ball round on foot." Richard Pennell

Paul Gray

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Re: THE GROVE: Is That All?
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2014, 03:44:33 PM »
I'm afraid I just don't get it. Just think of other relatively nearby courses you could play for £185. Whilst I'm sure the occasional golfer would be easily won over by the service provided on a corporate day out, I struggle to understand why you wouldn't spend the same money somewhere far, far nicer. I can't help thinking of the emperor's new clothes.
In the places where golf cuts through pretension and elitism, it thrives and will continue to thrive because the simple virtues of the game and its attendant culture are allowed to be most apparent. - Tim Gavrich


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Re: THE GROVE: Is That All?
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2014, 05:16:46 AM »

Yes, on a jolly, The Grove is very fine.


I assume the whispy rough turns brown in summer, but I didn't really think the monochrome green effected me much.  The property is large enough with external views to overcome the Mucci issue. 


The greens were fine, a bit soft, but fine.  I didn't pay attention to the poa deal, but I do suspect there is some about.


Yes, The Grove is well out of my price range for what it is.


So I take it the online CG will be user interactive?


I don't really get £185 green fees.  It will have to be something very, very special before I part with that sort of money for golf. 

New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf


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