Fulwell Golf Club is set on Hampton Hill within the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Five-time Open champion J.H. Taylor laid out the first course for the members in 1904, on land that was part of Hounslow Heath (which once extended to more than 4,000 acres). Taylor, who at that time was the pro at Royal Mid Surrey, laid out two 18-hole courses, routed in a similar manner to his home club – an outer course for the men and an inner layout for the ladies.
Dr Alister MacKenzie extended the men’s course in the early 1920s, but ten year’s later the local council placed a compulsory purchase order on the land and gave the club notice that the lease would be terminated in 1941. The outbreak of the Second World War was critical for the club. Part of the inner course was turned over to agriculture for the war effort and the remaining holes on the inner course were opened to the public. The council, however, promised to reinstate a golf course following the war and assigned John Morrison to the project.
In 1958, thirteen years after the war ended, a new course at Fulwell Golf Club opened for play, comprising of eight holes from the original outer layout and ten holes from the inner course. So it’s fair to say that three prominent golf course architects helped shape the 6,465-yard par 71 layout that’s in play today. However, the heritage of Fulwell’s course is firmly attributed to John Morrison, who was the Managing Director and last living member of Colt, Alison and Morrison Ltd. at the time the new course was unveiled.
Despite its heathland roots, Fulwell is a parkland course that’s laid out on well-drained ground. Mature trees flank the fairways, requiring accuracy from the tee and also length, especially at the 452-yard par four 8th, which calls for a solid drive and an accurate approach to a narrow green that’s protected by bunkers on each flank.
Hole 9, a 163-yard one-shotter, is the standout hole on the front nine. It’s a genuinely pretty par three over water to a false-fronted, kidney-shaped green that’s well guarded by sand traps.
The closing three home holes are also noteworthy, starting with the mid-length par three 16th which features a raised, almost pulpit-like green. The penultimate hole is a genuine three-shotter for most golfers. It measures 564 yards from the tips and is one of the longest in Middlesex, but perhaps Fulwell saves the best until last.
Slade Lodge (the Course Manager's residence) and the 17th century clubhouse (formerly a farmhouse) provide the backcloth to the home green, but the drive must first negotiate the large trees which guard the opening to the fairway. A serpentine ditch cuts diagonally in front of the green before winding its way up the left side of the hole. An S-shaped bunker to the left of the putting surface also tries to thwart par on this final, challenging par four.
This parkland course continues to grow in stature. A charming array of golf holes meanders their way through tree-lined avenues, with excellently maintained fairways and fast but true greens. To get close to the hole, you need to either impart some spin on the ball or play a very accurately judged links style shot. Lack of commitment either way, is penalised! The greens are consistently good now and such quality and speed has unearthed the more subtle borrows in their design. I have played quite a few renowned courses this season - but I haven't putted on better greens.
Have played many courses around the country but really enjoyed Fulwell.
Well laid out to be challenging but not too frustrating!
Course in excellent condition, greens challenging and sand traps scary.
Surroundings well maintained and inviting.
Particularly enjoyed 9th hole.
Would recommend this course to all abilities.
Well set out and impeccably maintained.
When playing a course for the first time, I like to do a little research and always arrive with a level of expectation. After playing Fulwell my pre-visit expectations were exceeded, which is always nice when that happens. There is a very strong club feel here with a full membership with visitors most welcome. Fulwell is in Middlesex but not too far from the Surrey county border. My feeling is that this course is a lot more ‘Surrey’ than it is ‘Middlesex’ in terms of style and quality.
Four par-4’s start the round, with the 2nd my favourite of these; 417 yards and the tee shot is key, this must be placed on the left of the fairway – anything slightly right will mean the green will be blocked out by trees. Two good par-3’s on the front nine are at the 6th and 9th both are positioned close together and very near to the clubhouse. The 6th is only 152 yards at most but there is some decent tree and bunker protection at the green. The 9th is about ten yards longer, crosses water and the couple of bunkers that are short of the tricky green, means that you are working for your par.
The 11th hole is my only real negative – a short par-5 with a superb green but needs stronger fairway bunkering. In fact the bunkers around the course have been high-lighted by the club as the next big project – a plan that will take the next few years has been scoped and once complete, will strengthen many holes.
The last par-3 is at the 16th and is very good indeed, even without any bunkers; it is all about the green, which is forty yards long, around ten yards wide and a little raised. The final hole is another worth a mention – not overly long at 400 yards but this is all about the approach to the green – a ditch just a few yards short and out of bounds behind mean that this is a big ask – some may need a tidy short game for par finish.
Course presentation is very high and the greens are consistent and a joy to putt on – could even give the greens at nearby Ealing GC a run for their money. I imagine that once the bunker plan is complete, this course should get stronger.