Hadley Wood Golf Club was designed by the great Dr. Alistair MacKenzie and features some of the telling touches expected by arguably the greatest golf course designer to have ever lived. Dramatic bunkering, strategic play, demanding approach shots and complex greens.
Previously a par 5, the 5th hole at Hadley Wood now provides a demanding and strategic golf hole which is a pleasure to play. This par 4 creates options off the tee, fantastic bunkering and a well protected semi-plateau green giving the player something to think about early on in the round.
The 5th is one of the best at Hadley Wood and let us take a look in more detail
The Strategy – Off The Tee:
The hole is a straight 442-yard par 4 from the back tees, with a sloping fairway from right to left. The slope and wind direction must be considered off the tee as there is trouble in the fairway and a well played drive will increase your birdie chances.
Fairway bunkers are temptingly placed at 250-285 yards depending on the tees you are playing, so going over them is certainly an option for the bigger hitters or when the wind provides some help. The bunkers must be avoided, with steep sides, getting a mid-iron over the lip is not guaranteed, and can cost you a couple of shots.
The ideal line into the green is from the right-hand side of the fairway and keeping the ball up on the higher side of the slope can be tricky. The right-hand side will mean you have a direct view of the green and are not hitting uphill onto the semi-plateau.
Off the tee you have some options, let’s dive into them and see how to play this hole:
Option A – The ideal right-hand side section of the fairway if you are laying up. Staying up on the high side of the slope requires a fade off the tee, but you are rewarded with the best line off the tee
Option B – The low side of the fairway if you are laying up. A straightforward long iron off the tee will get you here, especially as the fairway will kick everything left down into this area. You are faced with an uphill shot to the green with little sight of the lower half of the pin.
Option C – Flying the bunkers into the preferred landing area on this hole provides the ideal line into the green and a bold shot is rewarded with a short iron approach.
Option D – threading the ball through the gap between the bunkers and rough on the left-hand side takes the bunkers out of play, but plays the narrowest on the hole.
The Green and Approach Shot:
Laying up will mean hitting over the fairway bunkers which are designed to provide some serious distraction and in some of the layup areas, the lower half of the pin will not be in view. Taking the aggressive line will have rewarded you with a fairly straightforward wedge to the green.
Given the slope of the fairway, you’ll most likely be fighting the draw on the approach shot. The largest bunker on the hole is excellently placed short left of the green collecting any misplaced approaches and this classically dramatic McKenzie bunker both creates a brilliant visual hazard guarding the green, but also means you’ll be aiming further right than you would feel comfortable doing.
Two smaller bunkers short right and long right add the final touches of brilliance to the green surrounds ensuring there is only one safe spot to miss this green.
Rare to find on a MacKenzie designed course, the green is relatively flat and gives an excellent chance of birdie if you find the green in two shots. The green is a semi-plateau with the best line from the right-hand side if the fairway. Pin placement will be key on how aggressive you can be on the approach and the one place to miss short will leave you a fairly straightforward up and down provided you’ve not found the bunkers.
The 5th at Hadley Wood is one of my favorites on the course, providing a difficult test of the tee and a birdie chance if you find the green in two. Visually, it creates drama from the tee box, and for the better players, the opportunity to carry the fairway bunkers is often rewarded. The elegant bunkering creates a real strategic test and rewards good golf shots.
But like all great golf holes, the high handicap players still have a good chance for par with a bogey 5 easily achieved, making this a great and important, a playable golf hole.
Hadley Wood may not be the most famous of MacKenzie designed courses, but its a joy to play.