The course at Effingham was laid out 90 years ago by the acclaimed golf course architect Harry Colt. The subsoil is a combination of chalk and sand, making it one of the most free-draining courses in the country. This gives this downland course a very linksy feel and it plays well throughout the year: faster running in the summer, but in excellent order for 12 months of the year.
For a private members’ club, Effingham is very forward thinking. It is constantly looking to offer the best customer care levels for all its customers, members, visitors and society players.
The course is not particularly long, but provides an excellent challenge from either white or slightly shorter yellow tees and, for those who wish to stretch themselves, the back medal tees increase the length to 6800 yards and with that the difficulty considerably.
One of the great things about playing a mature course that has been built by a quality architect is that the bunkering has been designed to be most relevant, and best, from about 220 yards off the tee. This, of course, is ideal for most club golfers, and whilst these bunkers can be easily carried from the standard tees by tour players and top amateurs, the bunkering sets the hole up to look so appealing to the eye. Many golfers overlook this, or take it for granted, but the point is not lost on Tom Mackenzie, the esteemed golf course architect who has spent a considerable amount of time and effort restructuring all of the bunkers to provide an excellent and fair test, but also the sort of traditional visual impact that Colt had in mind in the 1920s, when he first laid out the course at Effingham.
In addition to the bunkering adjustments, the course has also got a cleaner, more open feel to it, with many of the wooded areas being cut back to restore the course to its downland splendour.
Since the course was first created the course in the 1920s, the club has hosted numerous prestigious events, including the regional qualifier for The Open Championship from 2006 to 2010. The club was also delighted to host the Southern Regional Qualifier for the English Men’s Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship, The Brabazon Trophy, in May 2014, and has been selected to host the England Golf Senior Men’s County Championship Final in 2019.
Steve Slinger is the general manager at Effingham and has greatly enjoyed his role since taking over five years ago. He spoke to Golf Features:
“Effingham is a superb golf club. It is friendly and welcoming and we have a terrific membership. We have also got a great team, both in the clubhouse, the professional shop and on the course who are all eager to push standards continually upwards. The project to revitalise the course has been extremely interesting. It’s been great fun and a real education working with Tom Mackenzie.”
Tom Mackenzie is very pleased with the finished result at Effingham:
”I am proud of the work that the whole team has done at Effingham in restoring it to its former glory. When I first saw the course, I knew what could be done and my hat goes off to the club for seeing through the programme. Our approach was to use the Colt heritage as inspiration and to be bold and ambitious in re-bunkering the course. If we have done our job then people will not necessarily be able to tell that the bunkers are new, only that it is visually stimulating and that they make the course more challenging for the longer players, while leaving a little more room for manoeuvre for the shorter but skilful players. I believe that we have achieved that, but ultimately, it is the golfers who are the judge. So far the signs are extremely positive, which is a great reward for the club and those ambitious members who pushed the programme through.”
Mackenzie also rebuilt the 5th and 18th greens and has matched the style and feel of the existing greens, which have links-like swales and borrows across them. The run-off areas around the greens provide a little treachery for the slightly errant golfer. Playing any Colt course is good fun: playing Effingham, newly refreshed, but in tune with the original author, is a real treat.
The course is lightly undulating and gently rises to the top of the chalky anti-cline. The fairways are generous and wide, but long willowy, knee-high grass, offers a beautiful frame to most of the holes, but is also a card wrecking opportunity for those hitting well wide of the mark. Beautiful mature oaks, horse chestnuts and other fabulous trees, some many centuries old, are in abundance around this beautiful piece of scenic downland.
The clubhouse is a classic adaption of a Georgian mansion now offering a beautiful mix of traditional interiors and elegant open-plan function rooms. The food is delicious and great wines and cask ales are perfectly kept for the benefit of the members and visitors. Customer service is of the highest standard and this is not in any way limited to the members.
Effingham is a great place to visit and a wonderful course to play regularly. For more information please visit: effinghamgolfclub.com