Blackmoor Golf Club is sandwiched between the North and South Downs at the western end of the glorious sand belt, which cuts swathe through Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire. The course lies on a picturesque tract of purple heathland, from which the club takes its name.
Harry Colt originally laid out Blackmoor as a 12-hole course and it opened for play in 1913. The outbreak of the Great War prevented the expansion to 18 holes until 1924. "I am told on good authority and fully believe that I ought to bracket with Liphook and Pulborough another course," wrote Bernard Darwin in Golf Between Two Wars, "a creation of Mr Colt’s, at Blackmoor, not far from Bordon, in Hampshire, but here is one of the sad gaps in my education. I have always been going to see Blackmoor but never have." Darwin had nothing to be ashamed about, because even today, Blackmoor is not as well known as it should be.
Charles Swann started his round dramatically at Blackmoor Golf Club in October 1929 when his opening drive landed in the chimney pot of an adjacent house. The owners were somewhat surprised when the ball rattled down the chimney stack before plopping onto their burning fire.
The layout is configured in two loops, with the outward nine being the outer loop. Five par threes and only two par fives against a par of 69, ensures that Blackmoor belies its modest 6,164 yards. Blackmoor is regularly used for Regional Open Championship Qualifying and the flagship annual amateur event, the Selborne Salver, has produced some notable winners, including Peter McEvoy, Gary Wolstenholme and Ross Fisher.
Blackmoor is a truly delightful course, with spinneys of birch and fir and wonderfully sandy ground. It’s a secret jewel for the golf course cognoscenti if ever there was one.
Back in 2006 we formed the first English Top 100 ranking list online and we then went to print and published a book the following year. For some unknown reason Blackmoor didn’t make our inaugural England Top 100, but the course has appeared in every iteration of our biennial rankings since then. Last Sunday I finally made the trip to Bordon to play Blackmoor and I genuinely wish I’d made the journey sooner.
It’s a lovely Golden Age Harry Colt-designed heathland course which has a touch of parkland about it in places, largely due to the sheer number of trees. Set in a quiet spot, not far from Liphook and Hindhead, Blackmoor goes about its business, flying under the radar in a quiet and unassuming way.
We played off the white tees on Sunday (6,164 yards, par 69) and despite its modest yardage it didn’t feel too short. The greensites at Blackmoor are nothing short of stellar. Never before have I seen so many false fronts on one single 18-hole course. The contouring of the greens ranges from subtle to rather wild (especially the 18th) and they are exactly my cup of tea.
The routing in places is a bit awkward and I suspect this is not the original flow. No doubt the club decided to alter the routing at some point to allow the course to return to the proximity of the house after nine holes. The course clearly must have looped back in some form originally, but probably not as it does today. I found some of the bunkering slightly uninspiring and there are too many trees that have smothered the heathland characteristics in places, but overall I enjoyed the course immensely and would recommend Blackmoor to be included within any heathland itinerary.
The elevated par threes are quality, as you would expect from Harry Colt, and even though the yardages at #6 and #15 are identical, the holes point in opposite compass directions. The par four 5th is an intriguing 404-yard par four that features a deep ditch at the elbow of the sharp dogleg right. The tee shot needs not only to be long enough to avoid being blocked by trees, but also as tight as possible to the line of the ditch to leave the shortest approach to a wonderful bunkerless greensite that seems to be cut into the land and so creating an attractive amphitheatre effect.
I understand Tim Lobb is consulting at Blackmoor and will be using old aerial photos to help in the restoration of this Harry Colt classic. I wonder which bunkers are original and which have been added at a later date? My bet is that the three long and narrow, diagonally offset traps, which are set some 30 yards from the 10th green, are not originals. This is a long 448-yard par four and these traps seem overly penal and out of character to me, unless the hole was perhaps formerly a par five.
Blackmoor has the potential to be a strong 5-ball rated course. As it stands I believe it’s still a worthy 5 rating, but it could be better and I’m sure it will improve over time, as the club seems to be progressive. Currently ranked #75 in England Blackmoor has the prospect to threaten the English Top 50 in my humble opinion. A magic wand would make the overhead high voltage cables disappear, but that is not a criticism of the course itself. After all, I liked it. I liked it a lot.
My youngest son and i played Blackmoor today on County Cards. I can honestly say that both of us felt in was the best inland course we had played in the British Isles. Comparing the beautifully manicured tees and fairways with fairly fast but true greens to other courses like Sunningdale, Wentworth and Gleneagles, Blackmoor was in so much better condition. My son Darren a professional rugby player also had Woodhall Spa as his best inland course before this one. Although my score was not anywhere near to handicap and even though Darren had 7 pars he also had an 8 and a 9 we both can't wait to take on our other siblings on this fabulous course.
Food in the clubhouse was also pretty decent and we were made to feel very welcome at the clubhouse. Something is very wrong in the marking for rankings for this course to be so low down in the pecking order. After playing Perranporth and Huntercombe in the last week this was light years better. Not only did you have to think on every shot but you knew it was only your own ball striking that stopped you playing well. They also had a course planner something most of the East Anglian courses like Aldeburge, Ipswich Purdis Heath and Woodbridge Heath do not. The 3 aforementioned i have played in the last 6 months and none of them deserve any where near the ranking of Blackmoor. i realize that Gleneagles PGA and others like Sunningdale are set up for the Pro to play but the New course lacked the clear signposting of this one. Also the quality of walking on carpet manicured fairways at a realistic cost of £50 not £215 for something so good cannot be emphasized enough. To my mind only Royal Dornoch, Royal Birkdale and Turnberry really deserve to be rated higher than Blackmoor.
Interesting review. Blackmoor does sound like excellent value for money. Given how odd the weather has been in the first 6 months of the year I think you might forgive any of the courses you have played if they weren’t quite in the condition ( Sunningdale didn’t hold the Foursomes this year because of the snow... in March). Neither Old nor New at Sunningdale is set up for the Pros - in fact the club has resolutely stuck to the position that it is a members’ club and the courses should not be altered for Pro tournaments - hence why we can only really challenge the Ladies and Seniors these days.Wentworth West is a different matter.
I have been a member for three very happy years. I wish I could play it again for the first time but like a great marriage it just keeps getting better. It is in the best condition I have ever seen it. Truly first class. Always a challenge. Always a delight, what ever your standard. JCB LAY
The first rule at Blackmoor should be to keep your driver in the bag. Blackmoor is a very compact course and not overly long, proving to be quite tight and strategic from the tee. As others have said before me, work on your fade before coming to play the course as the left to right shot is the predominant shape you’ll need to hit.
The 18 holes are squeezed into quite a small parcel of land and there are a good number of sneaky water hazards to catch you unaware. Little streams and ponds are dotted here and there and are often out of sight until you approach your ball.
Being only a par 69, you’re made to work for your birdies and it’s those five one-shotters that present some of the most interesting challenges on the course, all of which have partial or full plateau greens. Of the remaining holes, whilst many point out the 10th as being one of their favourites which is no doubt one of the better holes, I preferred the following hole, the dogleg 11th which demands you to hit through a narrow channel between the trees. The earlier 5th hole is also one of the more memorable holes and another of those left to right doglegs. Other than the stream that runs across the centre of the fairway which forces you to hit a long second shot into the green, its other distinguishing feature is the lack of bunkers. Instead the green is surrounded by raised heather topped banks akin to the green surrounds found at Royal Ashdown Forest.
I’d prefer not to end my review on a sour note, but I must put one black mark against the course for the fact that it includes one of my pet hates - inner course out of bounds across quite a few holes. Whilst most of them only apply in one direction and punish nothing but the worst of shots, for me it’s always been a lazy way of toughening up a golf course. Notwithstanding this, overall the course provides a pleasant journey through heathland terrain and whilst no doubt one of the better courses in the area, falls short of being the county’s elite heathland course. That accolade rightly remains at nearby Liphook.
Having played Blackmoor on a fair few occasions, I find myself slightly agnostic as to whether I'm keen to return again in future.
The course is pretty good in parts and it starts with a picturesque opening hole. Sadly though there are many holes that are forgettable and in design terms, require some investment and changes.
The course is flat in parts and this detracts from it's playability. It's easy to switch off at various points, but you're often switched back on when you hit the better holes, 10, 18 being stand-out examples.
Granted at £35 it is value for money, but there is a reason it doesn't compare to its neighbours, Liphook, Hankley, Hindhead - It's just not quite as good.
I played Blackmoor on a beautiful evening, paid just £35 for a twilight green-fee and had virtually the entire property all to myself.
I drove away in disbelief wondering why people weren’t queuing up to play this fabulous golf course situated just minutes off the A3 in Hampshire. Maybe I’ve missed something but I’m fairly certain I haven’t!
Very little has been written about this joyous heathland course which boasts several high quality green complexes and a set of par three’s that are nothing short of sensational. Add in to the equation that a number of tee shots give you several options and here I think you have a course that seriously belies its reputation.
OK, so Blackmoor isn’t exactly off the radar but it is rarely spoken about in the same high regard as many of the more notable Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire and Dorset courses and I genuinely believe it more than holds its own against most of these. Indeed I played it on the same day as nearby Liphook and although my opinion may go against the grain I thought it was significantly the better, more interesting, strategic and challenging course. I’d go as far as saying it should be a shoe-in for the Top 100 rankings of Great Britain and Ireland.
What makes it so good? Firstly, on the majority of drives you are presented with choices and often asked to work the ball to a particular position or side of the fairway, most of which are lined by glorious heather, pine, birch and oak trees. Blackmoor is a thinking person’s course and even though it plays to a maximum of 6,164 yards I suspect its par of 69 is rarely bettered…
So there you have it. A glowing appraisal of a golf course I expected to be good but massively over-delivered on that. Sometimes you visit a course for the first time and on subsequent plays it goes down in your estimation whilst other times the opposite happens. Pleasingly I think Blackmoor could well be the latter because when I played here I got paired up with a new member who says he is still learning new things about the course and it gets better and better each time.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Blackmoor is a course that ruined my game for two years. Having arrived here as a competent 12 handicap after playing Blackmoor I quickly realised that I would never get down to single figures if I could not hit both straight drives and left to right fades (at the time I had only a strong draw/hook and only one hole really favours this flight!).
This course is a joy from start to finish and I personally think that hole 10 is the best hole in Hampshire, a strong par 4 rising gradually uphill to a green in the distance. When you play here you are really in an area of great beauty and quiet and you will not be disappointed with the layout.
"You can talk to slice but a hook wont listen" Lee Trevino. I'm certain Harry Colt played a cut. He certainly was not a sheep in a former life. Apparently they once fed some sheep into a maze; 68% turned left first time and of the ones that took a first turn to the right, all of them, without fail, then took the next left.
A delightful day and course. Not long, but it's tight. Keep it straight and you'll be rewarded, although I'd challenge even the best putters to avoid a three-putt here. The greens were in magnificent condition, quick, and rolling out without a kink - no excuses! Full of subtle (and not so subtle) borrows. Very important to leave yourself the right side of the hole.
Some great holes, particularly the par 3's, including an absolute brute at 15 (200 yds with an upturned saucer green, deep bunkers either side). Lots of heather to contend with, a fair bit of OOB too.
I'd wholeheartedly recommend a trip here. Pretty good value for visitors, and the course is in terrific shape. A fair test, and most importantly, fun!
Not easy to write a review of Blackmoor. Truth is, it's a good course but not a great course. Positively it has a number of holes that would befit many of Surrey heathlands best, the 1st, 10th and 18th are stand outs. On the flip side, there are a few weak holes, the 2nd, 5th, and 7th. A course that favours short hitters at just over 6000y and with only 2 par 5s there are limited opportunities for the power players to let it rip. Greens are generally very good. Practice facilities are extremely poor, as is the club house food offering. Saying that it's a fun course to play.