The opening hole doglegs to the left offering the option of either a safe tee shot down the middle avoiding the bunker on the right or, for the long hitters, over the trees on the left to leave a short pitch to the green. There are bunkers front left and to the right of the two tiered green and a potentially troublesome belt of conifer trees behind.
Hole 2: The first of four par threes on the course. The goal is to avoid the bunkers guarding the front left and right of the raised green, which also slopes from back to front. If in doubt, take an extra club from the tee.
Hole 3: Here you will need as long a drive as you can muster to clear the ravine, leaving an approach shot that is also slightly uphill so don’t under club especially as the greenside bunkers guard the entrance to the expansive green.
Hole 4: This par 5 doglegs to the left requiring a drive of around 220 yards from the competition tees. A blind bunker on the corner of the dogleg awaits a drive aimed too far left. The long hitters may drive over the corner but out of bounds on the left awaits the tugged drive. A bunker straddling the fairway about 25 yards short of the green cautions all but the bravest from trying to get up in two.
Hole 5: Avoid driving too far left as the fairway quickly disappears into a lateral water hazard running the length of the hole. A fairway bunker on the right is designed to catch a well hit drive. The answer obviously is to hit it straight down the middle! Your approach should be bold to take out the greenside bunkers on both sides. As with most holes on the course there is little trouble at the back of the green.
Hole 6: This par 5 hole is distinctive for the number of bunkers lying in wait to ensnare practically every shot to the green. Consider carefully your route and club selection especially on the second shot where some of the bunkers are unsighted. The green is subtle with slightly unexpected borrows and steep fall aways.
Hole 7: This par 4 places a premium on accuracy from the tee; go too far left or right and you will be out of bounds and too long and left..... in the trees. The second shot takes a slight dog leg right and is uphill, an extra club will make sure you reach a fairly flat green bunkered on both sides. Beware the blind greenside bunker front right.
Hole 8: A short par three well bunkered on the right and front left. Miss the green to the left and your ball may well bounce down the slope and out of bounds, aim a little right and watch it bounce and role nicely down to the flag side.
Hole 9: Avoid the two fairway bunkers and you have this fairway mastered. The green however, is two tiered and can be fiendishly difficult when the hole is cut on the top tier. Many a perfectly struck approach shot has inexplicably run off the back of this green leaving a tricky chip back.
Hole 10: The back 9 starts with a monstrous par 4 the sole consolation being a fairly generous fairway with no bunkers until you reach the green. Getting home in two is beyond the majority, so a par often feels like a birdie. The greenside bunkers are front left and right so don’t be short with your approach.
Hole 11: HGC’s Signature Hole! Your elevated position from the tee gives a beautiful view of the challenge to come. Avoid the pond to the left and pop the ball up and over the golf ball hungry River Stour 25 yards short of the green. Once you have holed out, take a second to admire from behind the green, the magnificent hole you have just conquered.
Hole 12: A testing par 3 requiring a long iron or possibly a fairway wood from the white tees. A hooked tee shot could take you out of bounds. Beware the bunker short and left of the green and another deep revetted bunker to the right.
Hole 13: A stunning par 4, lined on the left by evergreens protecting the old railway line. Mature Willow trees block any shot from right of the fairway and a cavernous bunker short right of the green is best avoided. The green holds few terrors but runs slightly back to front.
Hole 14: An over hit drive up the left can leave you having to negotiate your way out of trees. Drift right and the same fate awaits. A well struck drive is likely to leave you with a long shot to the green. The green is bunkered on the right and front left and slopes back to front. Always comforting to walk off with a par at this hole.
Hole 15: Only the longest and bravest hitters take on the river from off the tee. A well-managed tee shot favours the left hand side of the fairway but not so long as to finish behind a large willow tree. Anything right risks being blocked out by trees on either side of the river. The pond, short and right, shouldn’t come into play, but does. The approach to the green needs to steer clear of the large and much visited greenside bunker front right and another pond awaits an over hit shot.
Hole 16: At least a fairly long iron needed to this par 3 hole especially if the pin is cut at the back of the green. No shortage of bunkers front right and left so, as ever at Haverhill, don’t be short.
Hole 17: Just when you wanted to coast in with a couple of easy holes comes the nerve jangling 17th. Drive over the ditch, and you’re in a good position. There is only modest gap between a row of 100ft tall Poplar trees and the river which runs across the fairway 100 yards short and winds alongside the green. Drag your approach left and the river Stour sneaks back to extract its revenge. Untypically there is only a single greenside bunker on the right.
Hole 18: At last, the end is near. Resist the temptation, especially in a medal, to take on the small lake to on the right. The reward is simply not worth the risk for most golfers. The hole requires a crisply struck shot of no more than 180 yards into the centre of the fairway leaving a straightforward shot into the two-tiered green. The greenside bunkers here are front left and back right.