The Takeaway: The 6-6-6 layout is the ultimate mix of pars which makes it near impossible to go on mental cruise control. The terrain offers more elevation changes than most top courses in England and there aren't any poor holes, but few that are as compelling as the top tier neighbors offer. Grade B+
Designer: Harry S. Colt 1923
Cost: £125 - £250 Click for current rates
Phone Number: +44 1344 621495
Course Website: Official Website - Visit The Berkshire Golf Club (Red)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Swinley Rd, Winkfield Row, Ascot SL5 8AY – UNITED KINGDOM
What to Expect: Laid out on undulated terrain with fairways framed by heather and trees, the Red course at The Berkshire features one of the most unique routings in the UK. With three par 3s, three par 4s, and three par 5s on each nine, the par four 11th and 12th is the only time you'll play the same par on back-to-back holes. That feat is also accomplished by starting and finishing the back nine on par 3s; a rare situation for sure. In fact, The Berkshire may be able to lay claim as the first course to ever feature six pars of each kind in an 18 hole routing. While the Red course at The Berkshire shares characteristics with the other heathland courses found in Berkshire and Surrey counties, it doesn't quite deliver the charm or intrigue that the other top tier layouts are able to. It is a bit difficult to pin exactly why considering the great terrain Berkshire has to work with, but the holes don’t quite deliver the memorability you might expect. An exception to that is certainly the par three 10th which is reminiscent of the famed 16th "Calamity Corner" at Royal Portrush and is equally perilous. In fact, the par 3s are much stronger than the 5s as a whole and tend to be the highlight of the routing. As is common with most courses in the UK, players will be required to walk but can rent a trolley to help tote their clubs around. While The Berkshire should certainly make the itinerary when visiting England, there are stronger courses in the area.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 10th Hole – 186 Yard Par 3 – Reminiscent of the 16th at Royal Portrush, the back nine at The Berkshire's Red course begins with a do-or-die par three over a heather covered ravine. The hole looks like it plays a club uphill, but plan on taking two in order to make the ascension to the putting green. The boomerang shaped green sits sideways from the player with much more length than width to play with, so accuracy comes at a premium. Hanging any tee shot out to the right results in an instant reload.
Best Par 3: 2nd Hole – 145 Yards – I'm a fan of uphill par threes and The Berkshire delivers with a quality short one-shotter here. The green is angled slightly from front left to back right with a pair of bunkers fronting the putting surface. While one could try and skip a ball in from the front left corner, a high soft approach over the sand is the preferred play and will yield the best result. The key is taking enough club to ascend the hill because the two bunkers fronting the green are deep enough that it could take two to get out.
Best Par 4: 8th Hole – 427 Yards – The tee shot here is reminiscent of the 6th hole at Royal Melbourne as the fairway doglegs right out of view. Tee shots that don't have a fade on them can find themselves in the heather on the far side of the fairway and in trouble for reaching the green. The approach shot plays over a low spot in the fairway and up to a greensite that is protected in the front right by a bunker and along the left side of the putting green. With the green sloping hard from back to front, players would be wise to keep their shots below the hole to avoid a testy downhill putt.
Best Par 5: 17th Hole – 559 Yards – With only some of the fairway in view, players would be wise to hit their tee shot up the right side of the fairway as the short grass bends that direction after cresting the hill. The dogleg right hole crosses a path before ascending to a raised green surrounded by bunkers and heather. A stout tier is found in the middle of the green which can create three putt scenarios when your ball is one the wrong tier. The greensite is one of the more engaging complexes at the course.
Birdie Time: 15th Hole – 475 Yard Par 5 – With six par fives to play at The Berkshire, surely there are some good opportunities to score. Well with the 15th you only have 475 yards to cover and if you can get down in four strokes you can card a birdie. The bunkerless tee shot invites players to swing away with confidence and if you can keep it up the left half of the fairway you'll shorten the distance into the green. Many players will have an iron in their hand for the second shot and should take an extra club to make sure to reach the raised green that is protected at the front right with a bunker. Not only is avoiding the bunker wise, but the green slopes from left to right which should encourage players all the more to stay up the left side for their best chance of yielding an eagle putt. Whether you are there in two or layup and wedge it close, this is a great opportunity to go under par.
Bogey Beware: 14th Hole – 433 Yard Par 4 – Long and straight, the two dreaded words golfers hate to hear. The 14th just steps up to go against you toe to toe with trees and heather framing each side of the fairway. A ditch crosses the fairway and can quickly gobble up tee shots so you need to dial in the yardage from the tee box you are playing and decide if you are going to layup short or try to fly the ditch. If you are short of the ditch you'll have at least 165 yards uphill to a green that features a quick fall off on the left side that repels balls away from the putting surface. Ideally approach shots should come in from the left side of the fairway up the slope rather than from the right side where the slope can slingshot balls away. Know your limits and play smart to avoid a bogey here.