Former Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam OBE needs no introduction and tucked away in the East Sussex countryside a few miles south west of Tunbridge Wells is where you'll find the course that Woosie built – Dale Hill Golf Club. This is his inaugural architectural ensemble (with a little help from European Golf Design) and it's perfectly in tune and finely balanced. Built in 1997, the par 72, 6,512-yard layout flows gracefully through the ridges of the High Weald, perhaps reminiscent of the hills in Woosie's native Shropshire.
The Ian Woosnam course is the superior of two courses attached to the Dale Hill Hotel – a modern and functional four-star complex – the second course is called Dale Hill Old. Leaderboard Golf Limited own Dale Hill and they also have The Oxfordshire Golf Club near Thame and Sandford Springs Golf Club in Hampshire in their portfolio.
Dale Hill is set between the chalk escarpments of the North and South Downs and is unfortunately laid out on predominantly clay-based soil.
According to Woosnam, “the course has been designed to have the perfect balance – tough enough for the pros and easy enough for the amateurs – and can be enjoyed by all”.
I played the Woosnam Course at Dale Hill in September 2018 with a Society Group. I wasn't in the best of moods as the traffic on the way was awful and this fed into my golf, which was poor, even by my standards. I enjoyed the layout of the course and if you take advantage of the cheaper green fees available during the afternoons then it offers good value for money. What was disappointing when we visited was the condition of the fairways for the first few holes. A combination of prolonged dry weather and possible leather jacket damage had resulted in huge swathes of the fairways having to be treated and designated G.U.R. At least the Club were dealing with this. Yes, it's off the beaten track, but that means relative peace and tranquility. No traffic noise etc. and some decent scenery. I enjoyed the par 3's and have others have said the 6th is a good hole, the 10th presents an interesting tee shot if I recall correctly and the 17th was a good hole. I'd happily go back and play again, although there are lots of other on my list to play.
Dale Hill is not the easiest course to get to but this Woosnam design is worth a visit if you’re in the area. The course is routed across some interesting terrain and when I have played here the greens have been excellent although quite demanding. I would say the course is pretty consistent throughout but does have some memorable holes. The 6th is a nice dogleg from right to left…the player must place their ball past the corner of the dogleg otherwise they will not be able to see the green. The approach to this green is not easy either as it requires a long to mid iron to this tiered green. Hole 9 is a decent par 4 although the tee shot is relatively straight forward the green is set well below the play and requires perfect club selection otherwise you could run up a cricket score! 10 is a good par 3 back up the hill to a very narrow green that slopes from left to right…anything short and right is dead. 17 is a fun short par 4 played through a funnel of trees before leaving a short iron to a narrow green protected by a brook at the entrance and deep rough at the rear. Dale Hill may not be the most demanding of courses but the scenery is very nice and the green complexes are interesting and fun to navigate.