A trio of Surrey heathlands, presenting potentially the best stretch of Heathland golf courses in the world.
Harry S Colt was called to construct St George’s Hill in 1912 and it has developed onto one of the cherished courses in a rich golfing area in Surrey. Each hole in the three loops of nine is memorable and the Red, Blue and Green nines offer a variety to members and visitors. The undulating fairways rollercoaster through the natural flow of the land with many elevation changes while pines, silver birch, sand and heather are characteristic features of a charming lay out. The 1920s clubhouse on the high point of the land overlooking the opening and closing holes is a masterpiece it itself. The main loop measures 6,500 yards, par 70, and will remain in the memory of all who play there. Max Faulkner, the 1951 Open champion, was once the club professional.
Sunningdale’s Old Course, which was formulated in 1901 by Willie Park Jnr., is a classic parkland layout, where every individual hole is carved through the mature woodland in splendid isolation. The subtlety and intelligence of Park’s design results in a fascinating test, demanding true mastery of every facet of the game. Played in surroundings of remarkable beauty, the Old presents one of the most pleasurable golfing experiences to be found anywhere in the country.
Whether it is Bobby Jones’ perfect round of 66 in 1926, containing 33 strokes and 33 putts, or more recently Loren “The Boss of the Moss” Roberts’ win in the 2009 Senior Open Championship, The Old is a course which has played host to some of the greats of golf and looks set to continue its position amongst the world’s best for many years to come. 2015 see the Senior Open Championship return to Sunningdale with the likes of Bernhard Langer, who won the 2014 title at Royal Porthcawl, Sir Nick Faldo, who indecently holds the course record of 62, and Tom Watson all vying for the title.
The New Course was unveiled in 1923, and is among the most famed layouts in the portfolio of the esteemed Harry S. Colt. The New has a distinctly different character to its elder sibling, but is by no means inferior. Colt’s design is more rugged and masculine, and is a beautiful place to enjoy inland golf. Measuring just over 6,700 yards with a par of 70, the New offers great variation and places great emphasis on course management to navigate vast expanses of heather and pine which line these fairways.
It is difficult to assert which of the two courses is the better, but the one certainty is that Sunningdale is a golf club of monumental stature.
Walton Heath Old Course has hosted more than 60 major amateur and professional championships in its illustrious history, the highlight of highlights being the 1981 Ryder Cup. The club was founded in 1903 and the golf course was opened for play in May 1904. James Braid had already become the club’s professional and was to remain in that capacity until his death in 1950. The golf course was laid out by W Herbert Fowler, a leading amateur golfer. It was his first golf course venture and he went on to become one of the leading golf course architects of his era. The neighbouring New Course doesn’t exactly live up to its name – it actually opened in 1907! The great triumvirate (Vardon, Taylor & Braid) opened the club with an exhibition match and members have included Churchill and Lloyd-George.