There can’t be too many parts of the world, where you can throw a blanket over world class golf courses, all situated within 10 minutes of each other. The Surrey/Berkshire border (where I am lucky enough to call home) is one of these hotspots and the Berkshire (Red) easily mixes it with its esteemed neighbours such as Swinley, Sunningdale and Wentworth.
Herbert Fowler has designed an incredible golf course, that blends itself into its natural surroundings seamlessly. Golf is played through a maze of trees and amongst heather so purple it looks as though it’s been painted. Fairways and greens manicured to perfection, but the surrounding nature left to mature, so you feel as though you are playing through the forest. The natural rolling terrain allows for holes with fantastic tee shot vistas or entertaining approach shots. The course design is imaginative, fun and tough!
Although off the tips the course measures a docile 6,369 yards, it is by no means easy and if you find the heather, take your medicine! Accuracy is the key here and it’s the truest test of golf. Find fairways and greens in regulation and you will score well.
It’s hard to find any faults with the course. You stand on each tee box and admire the canvas laid out in front of you. Possibly it was the time of year we played, but I am yet to play a more colourful course.
It was hard to pick out the ‘standout hole’ as they were all good, but for me the Par 3 10th goes straight into my Dream 18. Played over a heather ravine and uphill onto a green that seems to be running away from you. It’s an incredible one shotter. The Par 4 6th with a sweeping dog leg right and the Par 4 11th and 12th are super back to back short par 4s. The 11th in particular with a beautiful elevated tee box with the hole painted out in front of you.
My slight negative (and a continuous bugbear of mine at some Top 100 courses) was the tame finishing hole. An uphill Par 3 18th, which really shouldn’t be the crescendo for one England’s best golf courses.
That said, this really is one of the best courses I’ve played on these shores and it’s hard to see how this isn’t ranked a little higher. Maybe it’s the location and it’s esteemed neighbours, but for me this is a better course than Swinley and Wentworth and deserves to be in the discussion with Sunningdale Old & New. I can’t wait to come back.
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Date: July 28, 2020