Founded in 1901, Gog Magog is Cambridge’s premier golf club. In 1969, the club commissioned Messrs Hawtree & Son to construct a new 9-hole course to complement their existing 18-hole Old course.
Two years later, to mark the opening of the new nine, a “high speed” match was played in relay fashion with the club Captain and Immediate Past Captain each leading a team of eight players. The players could be positioned at any point on the course and having played one shot could scamper across to another hole in readiness to play the next. Markers were positioned behind each green to record the score and to fire a rocket signalling that the hole had been completed. The Captain’s team won with a score of 37 completed in 10 minutes 18 seconds!
In 1995, following the acquisition of a further 99 acres of undulating downland, Martin Hawtree returned to the Gog Magog hills to begin construction of eleven new holes. In 1999 the new 18-hole Wandlebury course opened for play, utilising the eleven brand new holes and seven from the original 9-hole layout. The club also maintains a “spare” par three, at the northern extremity of the property; it’s a delightful one-shotter which unfortunately doesn’t feature in the routing for either course.
There’s no doubting that you can still see the join between the Wandlebury’s old and new holes, largely due to the trees which are more established on the original holes. However, the link is softening with the passing of time and as a complete course there is no doubt whatsoever that the 6,735-yard Wandlebury is one of the best in Cambridgeshire. It’s also a stern test and has been utilised for Regional Open Qualifying for five years since its inception. Some members even prefer it to the Old course.
Wandlebury Hill was an ancient settlement set within the chalk hills of the Gog Magog Downs, a number of Stone Age flint tools were discovered on the 4th fairway during course construction following a mandatory archaeological survey. It’s a genuinely stunning location and the fast and firm surfaces are perfect for golf. Golf Magog is undoubtedly Cambridgeshire’s golfing treasure where two unique 18-hole layouts reach up from an otherwise flat and somewhat featurless fenland landscape.
I’m very well acquainted with the second course at Gog Magog as I was a member here for a number of years and have played the Wandlebury (and the Old) in numerous competitions and friendlies down the years. It’s true that you can see the join between Fred W’s old holes and son Martin’s newer holes, largely located on the western side of the property.
I don’t especially like the uphill short par five opener, but it’s a gentle handshake that offers a birdie opportunity and you can catch your breath when you reach the top of the hill at the 2nd. You reach the rarely open halfway hut at the par five 4th and begin the tumble downhill. I like the drop par three 5th to a narrow and well-bunkered offset green. The SI1 7th is not long on the card, but this uphill dogleg right plays into the wind and the green is deceptively hard to reach in regulation.
#9 plays back uphill to the still closed halfway hut and #10 plays downhill parallel to #9 in an uphill downhill uninspiring reverse. The dogleg left 11th is a good par four that plays to a sunken greensite that is ringed with bunkers. I also like the short par four 13th with a nice green complex benched into the hillside and #14 is a pretty short par three – it’s the last of the new western holes.
You play the next few holes on the plateau before toppling back down at the long par four closer, which looks almost as lengthy as the parallel uphill par five opener.
Both courses at Gog Magog are rather uphill and downhill but both are solid. Although having some similarities both are also noticeably different. I prefer the Old course as the routing is coherent and there’s more quirk on offer, but the Wandlebury is a nice course. If it were to stand alone it would probably be more highly regarded.