Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Five teenagers are told 'You Khan Succeed' with BH scholarships

Five elite teenage golfers have been granted scholarships at the prestigious Brocket Hall Golf Club where they will be mentored by the two-time Eurpoean Tour winner Simon Khan.

Khan, 42, who won the 2004 Celtic Manor Wales Open and the 2010 BMW PGA Championship, helped launch the Brocket Hall scholarship programme earlier this year, in his role as club ambassador, and the five youngsters – aged between 13 and 18 – will each receive 24 months’ membership at the historic club and coaching from renowned head professional Simon Garner.

Each new scholar underwent individual assessment days and were selected on a number of performance and personal criteria. Four reside in Hertfordshire with the youngest heading across the county boundary from Essex.

Ashley Chambers, 13, from Brentwood, won the Essex U14 Junior Golf Tour order of merit handicap title, playing off 13.7, and was runner-up in the scratch event.

Rory Superfine, 16, who lives in Harpenden and plays off a handicap of 6.6, is a regular member of the men’s scratch team at Aldwickbury Park and has won a number of club titles. He is currently 13th on the Hertfordshire U18 handicap order of merit, with four events remaining.

England Schools’ team member and scratch golfer Robert Shaw, 17, from Welwyn Garden City, is the current leader of the scratch Hertfordshire U18 order of merit, finished tied 24th in the Irish Boys Amateur Championship and, last year, captained the county’s U17 team.

Five-handicapper Harry Cater, 17, also from Welwyn Garden City, is also a top-20 scratch Hertfordshire U18 order of merit player, and has been club champion twice at a previous club, Chesfield Downs.

And 18-year-old Anna Collis, from Letchworth, who was this year’s Hertfordshire junior county champion off a four handicap, completes the line-up of lucky scholars. She was also awarded a place on the England regional U18 squad this summer and has won a number of junior opens across the region.

Naturally, each of the teenagers is keen to pursue a professional career and they all see this opportunity as a stepping stone to achieving that ambition.

Cater spoke for all of them when he said: “The scholarship will be very beneficial as I get to use the great facilities at Brocket Hall Golf Club and also be involved with Simon Garner, who will help massively as he is very skilled in the psychological side of the game. And, finally, I will also receive great advice from Simon Khan, which will help me fulfil my dreams.”

Welcoming them to the renowned Palmerston Academy at Brocket Hall, Essex-born Khan said: “These youngsters have already shown they have natural ability and they now have the opportunity to develop that talent in a thoroughly professional environment. Each will have their own, personal tailored programme designed to give them the best chance to progress their golf career.

“I wish them all well and I look forward to working with them alongside Simon Garner.”

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Saracens give Brocket Hall a try

We are delighted to announce a new partnership with Saracens 

Aviva Premiership giants Saracens have agreed a corporate membership package at Brocket Hall Golf Club

The package will see players at the Hendon-based rugby union club, which formerly played its matches at nearby Watford FC, using the historic golf club to relax and unwind outside of training and match hours. The Allianz Park outfit will also host a corporate golf day at the Hertfordshire venue.

Last year’s Premiership and Heineken Cup runners-up have a number of England players within the ranks, including Owen Farrell, and the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako. Like Brocket Hall, the rugby giants have a long history, dating back to 1876, with titles in both domestic league and cup competitions.

And they are not the first major sports club to link up with Brocket Hall, with professional football clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Watford also enjoying corporate benefits at the Welwyn estate.

Saracens' Ross McCann said: “We are delighted to be able to team up with Brocket Hall to be our home away from our Allianz Park home. The luxurious club will be an ideal base for our staff to enjoy a round of golf or simply relax or enjoy a healthy meal. The two clubs share an ethos of quality and I’m sure our staff will enjoy their experience of the historic and beautiful venue.”

David Griffin, director of golf operations at Brocket Hall, said: “As a Saracens fan myself, I’m overjoyed that we are able to welcome the club to Brocket Hall and I hope we are able to play a small part in their drive to achieve success on all fronts this season.”  

Visit Saracens at

Monday, 11 November 2013

Wedding Open Day: Sunday 10th November

We hosted our Wedding Open Day on Sunday 10th November - and what a beautiful autumn day we had for it! The sun was shining and the Estate looked stunning.

Over 40 couples were welcomed with their friends and family to see Brocket Hall at its very best. The Boardroom was set for a Civil Ceremony by the Wedding House, with chair covers and a striking white aisle runner. The Ballroom had a combination of wonderful flowers by Lanshire Floral Design and extravagant decor by Platinum Raspberry. We were thrilled to see everybody enjoying the Hall as a potential venue for their special day.

Some photos of the day can be found on Platinum Raspberry's Facebook page:

Friday, 25 October 2013

Phil Thompson - the end of a wonderful era

Today Auberge du Lac say goodbye to Phil Thompson, their renowned and tireless Executive Chef who is moving on and starting up his own restaurant.

We wish him every success with the new venture. There are really no words to show our appreciation for his dedication, hard work and enthusiasm over the last 11 years as he transformed Auberge du Lac into one of the finest restaurants in the area and was rewarded with a much coveted Michelin Star in 2009.

Phil Thompson was born on July 7th 1978 in Dagenham, Essex. Always intrigued by the kitchen and supported by a family of “foodies” Phil started his career in 1996 as commis chef at The Lanesborough in Hyde Park. This 5 star diamond hotel, as it was then, was to be where Phil had his first experience of working in a Michelin Star and 3 AA Rosette kitchen.

Two years later he moved to the Orrery in Marylebone as a demi chef de partie and was later promoted to chef de partie. In his 18 months there, Phil witnessed and contributed to the team's first Michelin Star. In 1999, Phil went to work for yet another five star establishment and was part of the opening team at St Martin's Lane Hotel, as a chef de partie. Keen to experience as many kitchens as possible, the new millennium saw Phil move again, this time to L'Escargot's Picasso Room. In his two and a half years there he was promoted from chef de partie to junior sous chef, and again, had the opportunity to be part of an outstanding culinary team. During this time The Picasso Room was awarded a Michelin Star and three AA Rosettes.

Finally, Phil joined Auberge du Lac in 2002, as Sous Chef. Promoted to Head Chef at Auberge du Lac almost immediately, he has provided an outstanding contribution to the success of the Auberge du Lac and was further promoted to Executive Chef in 2007; a new role to oversee the kitchens and menus for Auberge du Lac, Brocket Hall and Brocket Hall Golf Club. Since arriving at Auberge, Phil has increased their rating in “The Good Food Guide” from 4/10 to 6/10, has achieved another AA Rosette bringing the restaurant’s total to three, and in 2009 was awarded a much coveted Michelin Star.

Phil is insistent on being hands on and successfully perfects the art of combining the best traditions of French cooking with his own, essentially English background. An inspired chef whose career is in the ascendance, he has a very simple philosophy: “I have a passion for what I do and enjoy working with the finest produce England has to offer. I find mentoring and teaching other aspiring chefs as rewarding as I find cooking for people who enjoy and appreciate good quality food.”

Phil’s other interests include rugby and he is an avid Wasps fan. He also follows football where he worships only one team, Dagenham and Redbridge, and he enjoys partaking in a huge amount of charity work. In 2010 Phil ran the London Marathon for the Willow Foundation, in an impressive time of 5 hours 26 minutes, and more recently held a well received event for Help for Heroes.

We celebrate Phil's era at Auberge du Lac and Brocket Hall as he leaves us to pursue his dream of running his own restaurant in St Albans, having made more than a mark on the history of this historic estate.

Cheers Phil - you'll be a huge success as always!

You can follow Phil on Twitter:

Friday, 16 August 2013

Wine Notes: Beringer Private Reserve 2006

Although they produce one of the cheapest wines in North America, Beringer also make one of the most renowned wines from Napa.

Beringer Private Reserve 2006 arrives at Auberge du Lac
Their private reserve is amongst the finest wines from California, wine maker Laurie Hook weaves together a mosaic of single vineyards to create a blend of extraordinary depth and elegance.
Aged in new French oak barrels, the private reserve cabernet sauvignon is the utmost expression of each vintage.

This wine will be available for a very limited time, as I managed to get just 6 bottles - available for the Wine Club members as well :)

Derya Demirci de la Fuente
Head Sommelier, Auberge du Lac

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A History of Brocket Hall: Part One - From the Middle Ages

Brocket Hall has seen more than its fair share of intrigue. It is a magnificent country house but also much more. The Hall's history is full of tragedy, farce, scandal and romance and some say there might even be a ghost!

Our interest as a nation in history and country houses is a fairly recent notion. For those early generations who built a house on this hill by the River Lea, concerning themselves with any idea of preservation and heritage would have been a very strange prospect. Families were always eager to build themselves a home that reflected their status in society. Anything considered to be old or out of fashion would be demolished, or existing houses would be "modified" to include new wings, exotic frontages and garish columns with very little thought to what we would call heritage now.

Read on for the first part in our History of Brocket Hall series, which tells of the estate's emergence in the 500 year period before the current house was built.


The earliest evidence of a house dates back to 1239, though it was then called 'Watershyppes' and owned by a Simon Fitz Ade. The first Brocket to arrive here was Sir Thomas Brocket who married one of Fitz Ade's daughters. The Brockets originated from Yorkshire and quickly made Hertfordshire their permanent home. In 1440 the house was rebuilt and renamed.

The Brockets established themselves as one of Hertfordshire's leading families. In 1507, a Sir John Brocket was sheriff of his own county and of Essex. Sir John had a son, another Sir John, who married an heiress, Elizabeth More from Oxfordshire. Their portraits hang above the main stairs and date from 1568.

The elder Sir John was a close ally of Queen Elizabeth I. Elizabeth's half-sister, Mary Tudor, sat on the throne and saw her as a threat putting her under house arrest at nearby Hatfield House, owned by the Cecil family. Mary clung to the throne for five years and then died. Legend has it the news that Elizabeth was now Queen was told to the 25 year old princess as she sat reading under her favourite Oak tree. Ever since, the location of that tree has been disputed; Hatfield House have long claimed that the tree stood on their land, but Brocket Hall has also claimed ownership for just as long. In an era when boundaries changed all the time and maps were far from accurate, both could now construct a convincing case if they chose to do so.

During the 17th Century another Sir John managed to survive the turbulence of the Civil War by frequently changing his allegiance. At first, he supported the Royalists and was made a baronet by Charles I. This meant Sir John had to be assessed for a contribution to the Royalist war effort - the King had hoped for around £600 from him. However the survey found that Sir John, although a Baronet, was a very poor one and had only a little money which his father sent him. By the time Sir John inherited his father's wealth, the war was over and he was already a supporter of Cromwell, ruler of the Commonwealth of England. Brocket was given a new baronetcy to replace the devalued one bestowed by the King, and he was absolved of his past support of the crown, acting as commissioner for Hertfordshire for the good of Cromwell's government.

In 1660 the Restoration saw Charles II recalled to the throne and once again Sir John was on the side of the new regime. He made his peace with the crown and in 1673 he again became Sheriff of Hertfordshire.

Sir John had two wives, one of which died in 1657. The other could not bear to live in Brocket Hall in the company of Sir John's mistress and left him after three years of marriage. Sir John Brocket eventually died in 1694 and the estate passed to his son James.

James was a very different animal to his father. He was a very serious young man and went to Rome to follow his interests in religion and politics, only to get smallpox and die in 1712.

There was no male Brocket heir, James left only sisters, and one of them owned Brocket Hall until her death in 1746.

The house was then put up for sale, and along came Matthew Lamb, eager for a country seat. He was full of plans for a grand new house and bought the estate.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Thinking Back to Front, Part Two: A Good Game Plan (or should I say Shot Plan?)

In part one I talked about the execution of the shot, but before we move to the step that leads to your visualisation of the shot I would like to extend that point onto what happens after you've hit the shot - your reaction, or ACCEPTANCE.

Acceptance is often mentioned in the psychology of the shot routine and is very important but not often spoken about or even known about. Bob Rotella summarised this point once as looking at the outcome of the shot wherever it finishes and treating it as "an opportunity to excel" - also a common NLP technique called re-framing; seeing the best of what just happened as golf is not often perfect, unless you hole the shot!

So after your shot, whatever happens, just be a spectator and see where it goes. Say to yourself "I can (whatever you think the next shot is) from there".
For example, "I can chip it on from there" instead of "I pulled it" or "Why did I do that again?!". Can you hear the difference? It's important to avoid those rogue and useless thoughts because you will be in the wrong frame of mind to play the next shot, and being out there for 3, 4 or 5 hours it's probable your mindset will become trained to think like that rather than being as positive as possible.

Remember: accept what happens and you'll be in a better mindset to play the next shot. You never know, as a result you may hit the best shot of your round...

Shot Plan

I hear it said about snooker when the commentator explains why potting a certain ball is favourable over another to leave the player on another colour. This is a strategy often forgotten about in golf because we get drawn into going at the flag all the time; strategy is almost reserved for the best in the game.

To shoot the lowest combined 18-hole score you need to be able to plot your way around the course knowing when to be aggressive or tactical, playing to your strengths, eye, mindset, current standing in the round (matchplay v medal) and of course confidence.

Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo: not only known as great golfers but also known as great thinkers; planners who are cool under pressure. How else do you win the hardest tournaments in golf? To be a multiple winner (50 by the way) you have to have more luck, right? How do you think they did it? Simple really. They had a strategy, a game plan for each course - each tournament - which was something they could control.

How do you get good at this? Do you ever practice this? Interestingly from what I see, the majority of golfers do pretty much the same thing week in week out as they play the same course. They get in to a habit of playing, or trying to play, the same hole the same way hoping it will result in a lower score without changing the way they play. As a result they often need to play at their best as they flag hunt and shoot for the lowest score possible instead of seeing the bigger picture.

The other day I was on a playing lesson and hit a rescue club off the tee instead of a driver. Sure enough the question came from my student, why didn't I hit the driver and try for as far down the fairway as possible? I pointed out that given the wind, had I hit the driver as well as I could it the ball may have gone into the deep rough or bunker and hitting the rescue eliminated that possibility. This made me more relaxed and as a result I hit it better setting up a great line into the green. On balance, that strategy has given me the same score as the driver over the years - but with no "big score" possibilities.

Jack Nicklaus said in the TV interview about his career "Golf is a game you have to understand yourself, you have to understand what your abilities are and you have to play within your own abilities and if you get outside of that - that's when you get beat".

I am concerned about the art of personal peak performance as the average handicap hasn't decreased in the last 60 years (16.7). What is not improving? Clubs have, greens have, information has, so what is it? I and many other open-minded and curious coaches believe it is the way we play and practice the game.

I see that the mind training element of the game isn't incorporated alongside the skills training and playing elements. Most golfers see mind training as a separate "if I need to" or "if I have to" department which then becomes a big challenge as you try to change hard-wired habits.

Next time: TRUST.

Happy golfing.

Simon Garner
Head Golf Professional, Brocket Hall