J – John O’Gaunt
GB&I Golf Course Review – Z to A
I am showcasing one golf club a day across GB & I over 26 days – in reverse alphabetical order. Full write up and more images can be found on http://golfgurugroup.blogspot.com.
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Sutton Park, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2LY
The imposing Mansion House enjoys panoramic views as it presides over the golf courses and grounds of the John O’Gaunt Golf Club.
Dating back to 1859, rebuilt after a fire in 1825, the mansion house is the clubhouse serving the two 18 hole golf courses and practice facilities.
Originally the golf course was a 9 hole in a different location. The War Office took over the nine hole, ploughing up 3 of the holes for crops. The remaining six had ditches dug into them to hinder aircraft from landing.
In 1948 a new location was sought for the then known Mid Bedfordshire Golf Club. The 300 acre Sutton Park was found to be the perfect location with its picturesque countryside views and established lime trees, some still standing to this day.
The front nine
Of the John O’Gaunt course were designed by W G Groves, a scratch golfer, with the back nine being designed by Fred Hawtree. Hawtree went on to design the second course, Carthagena, but our focus for today is the main course, John O’Gaunt.
With the purchase of Sutton Park came the somewhat dilapidated mansion house and established gardens designed by one of Capability Browns contemporaries, Humphry Repton.
As I haven’t played John O’Gaunt, my guest writer for letter J is Phil Millington:
As I arrived at the club
Ready to represent my club in a Seniors Scratch Team match, I was greeted by the clubhouse which has the air of an old country hall, with its grounds now converted into two golf courses, the John O’Gaunt main course and the Carthagena course. As you walk in you get the impression of history at this club.
My match was played on the John O’Gaunt course and it was the first and only time I’ve played at the club; in Mar 2020 (before Covid truly arrived on the scene). The course itself is a gently undulating mature parkland layout with many tall old imposing trees lining the fairways. Positioning of your shots in the right part of the fairway is key to producing a good score on many of the holes, otherwise your course management skills will be tested for sure. For the time of year the course was in really good condition and well presented, with the greens being suitably paced and true.
To sum it up for me
Almost a year further on, I find I can clearly remember all but maybe one or two holes; dog legs both ways, raised greens, some holes slightly uphill, some downhill. The John O’Gaunt course is recognised as the No.1 course in Bedfordshire and for me the fact I remember the course so well is truly the sign of an interesting course. One that I look forward to playing again in the future.
K for Kington