Hindhead Golf Club originally featured on the Top 100 website as a Gem and was nominated by Chris. It was added to the site in February 2005. Since then, Hindhead became an English Top 100 ranked course and then appeared within our 2016 Britain & Ireland Top 100 ranking list for the first time. Keith Baxter, Editor-in-Chief, has been singing Hindhead's praises for more than a decade and comments as follows:
Martin, a friend of mine, is a member at Hindhead Golf Club and I have been lucky enough to play here on numerous occasions. Each and every time I stand on the 2nd tee I ask myself the question: Why on earth is Hindhead not ranked more highly?
Hindhead Golf Club was founded in 1904 and it was the inspiration of a number of golfing enthusiasts. It is therefore “elementary, my dear Watson” that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was amongst the original founders.
The Devil's Punchbowl is a large hollow of dry sandy heath to the west of Hindhead and it’s overlooked by Gibbet Hill, which is the second highest hill in Surrey. The front nine at Hindhead is laid out through these heather strewn Ice Age valleys and the back nine plays on the hillside heathland plateau. The location is not only breathtaking, it’s truly beautiful.
"If you've never played the course before," wrote Tom Doak in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, "it would be difficult to convince you that there is a fairway waiting down there from the 2nd tee." By the time you reach the 3rd hole – one of the best par threes I’ve ever played – you too will be asking yourself the question why is Hindhead not in the Top 100? By the time you reach the par three 6th, the signature hole, you’ll be so convinced that this is a Top 100 course that you’ll be mentally writing a letter to one of the glossy golf magazine's Top 100 ranking panellists.
Undoubtedly, the front nine is the most dramatic and memorable, but the back nine also represents fine golf on ideal golfing terrain. The tee shot at 17 is intimidating and the right to left sloping fairway is tough to hit.
In my mind, without doubt, Hindhead was one of the best, if not the best course never to have appeared on a Britain & Ireland Top 100 list. A decade after first listing Hindhead as a Gem it entered our Britain & Ireland Top 100. About time I say, and I'm not alone in my opinion, Hindhead was one of Peter Alliss' favourite courses. Additionally, Hindhead was featured in Frank Pennink's Choice of Golf Courses: “Perhaps the most picturesque of Surrey’s many beautiful heather-and-pine courses.”
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“There aren’t many good sixes, but that was a bad six.”.
The words of Peter Alliss appeared to float from his house on the other side of the hedge at the side of Hindhead’s 16th.
Yet another three-putt had cost me a rare decent score and I swear I could hear the great man’s famous description of Tiger Woods at the 2003 Masters on the cool spring breeze.
Alliss loved Hindhead but his narration of the course on YouTube lulled me into believing that it would be calm or even gentle.
Not a bit of it – a result at Hindhead probably deserves the backing vocal of an over-excited Brazilian football commentator rather than golf’s word-painter.
It is as quirky and difficult as any heathland course I have encountered and I absolutely loved it.
The tone is set from the start with an intriguing par four, which demands a drive over heather before an approach into a green bent around to the right and protected by bunkers.
That is a mere hors d’oeuvre before the second hole – a par five which literally prompted me to gasp “wow”.
From the elevated tee, the distant green appears to emerge between an escarpment and some houses and the fairway is out of sight.
Thankfully, our group of top100 golf enthusiasts had been invited by a member who told us where we needed to plant our drives.
I followed orders, played a second safely down the middle and then thought I had struck a perfect nine-iron to the back of the green.
Nope. It was just off to the left. I subsequently misjudged the pace onto the putting surface and ended up making bogey.
I could repeat those words at least a dozen times during this review. Every occasion I thought I was in a good position, my ball would meander off the green or I would putt as if I had a mallet with a lead head in my hand.
Nevertheless, I was in love with my surroundings. Two small deer lolloped across the fairway on the 4th, another hole which leads through the glorious high-sided valleys.
Every hole on the front nine lives long in the memory but the Hindhead team are not resting on laurels.
We were among the first to play from the new tees on the par-three eighth, part of a decade-long fine-tuning of the course.
Hindhead’s heather was not yet in bloom, so I can only presume how wonderful the ninth green will look in summer with purple leading up to it and the rhododendron and the wooden halfway hut behind it.
Mercifully, the second nine was more profitable for my card but no less distinctive. The 12th was a super par-four with a six-foot drop-down directly in front of the green.
The 13th is a short curving par 4 and the big lads in our group narrowly missed the green from the tee. The 15th is an enchanting par three on which we almost witnessed an ace and then it moves on to the strong home stretch and the aforementioned 16th.
On the long 18th, I decided to plot my way down what my host then informed me was known as “old man’s alley”.
I laughed and admitted that I am of an age which sense should prevail over valour.
That mantra should have been adopted at Hindhead from the beginning because, beyond its great beauty, lays a devil to which the lilting tones of Peter Alliss gave little clue.
Why it is not rated among the sand belt’s top tracks is a mystery to me.
What a brilliant review; I can feel your enthusiasm oozing off the page and your description ‘as quirky and difficult a heathland course as I’ve played’ has made this a must-play for me this summer. Will let you know how I get on but have the feeling I won’t be disappointed!
I echo a lot of comments about Hindhead mentioned. 2 vastly different 9’s, the beautifully picturesque front 9, and a great rest of golf on the back 9.
The par 3’s in particular at this golf course are an absolute delight.
It isn’t as difficult as some other courses in Surrey, but you will enjoy it as much as any of the others I do believe!
A real hidden gem, I overlooked this only because it’s so under rated opting to play Woking, worplesdon or west hill instead. Loved it so much that I joined, honestly cannot fault the course. Yes, the front 9 is more scenic than the back but the back 9 is still excellent. Considerable work has been carried out and there’s a fantastic long term plan to improve all aspects of the club including the course, clubhouse and practice facilities.
There’s a certain charm about the place, it feels more special than the 3 W’s and has far superior views. Holes 4-9, if you stop and listen there is nothing but birds tweeting, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Greens are very consistent and easily as good if not better than courses that rank higher.
Exceptional value considering what’s on offer!
Hindhead's routing is unlike any other heathland course I have played. The front nine weaves through the floors of valleys, whilst the back nine sits on top of them.
The 1st is a generous par 4 that plays slightly downhill, with a really cool green that offers a great view for miles. You then turn to the 2nd which sets the scene for the front nine. You're stood on a hugely elevated tee, staring down to a fairway some 100ft below you nestled in a valley. Whilst they aren't as elevated from the tee, holes 4, 5, 7 and 9 are all very easy on the eye, and quite forgiving tee shots when you have the knowledge that a wayward drive may still bounce back into the centre.
3 and 6 are excellent par 3s, with the former being sat high up and needing a mid-long iron, and the latter playing hugely downhill to a beautifully bunkered green, that only needs a short iron/wedge. 8 is also a good par 3 that has just been improved by some recent work, re doing the green and moving the tee box entirely.
Whilst 5, 7 and 9 all have their own differences and challenges, the 4th stands out to me. The beautiful straight par 5 that you can see in full from the tee might be the most inviting tee shot on the course.
Whilst the front nine combines white sand, purple heather and green fairways weaving through valleys, which all creates great photos, I felt like the back nine was even better.
10 is a nice par 3 to start, and 11 is a simple par 4 with plenty of width, but a sneaky green that slopes away from you. You then arrive at 12 which might be the best hole on the course. A clever dogleg right which requires precision off the tee, and a unique green of the likes I've never seen before. Imagine a punchbowl green, but instead of slopes, its just a sheer drop to a lowered green on 3 sides. 12 is followed by a brilliant semi blind driveable par 4 at 13, which in turn is followed by a nice uphill par 4 with some good strategic bunkering.
15 is a relatively simple par 3 guarded by two bunkers front left and front right. Despite being one of the weakest holes on this course, the aesthetics are such that you still end up getting your camera out.
16 is a good par 5 hugging the edge of the property, and 17 is a lovely par 4 doglegging on top of a valley, with another cool green. 18 is a stout finisher that sits right beneath the clubhouse.
The only criticism I've ever heard of Hindhead is that the friont nine offers little strategy, which I understand. I would counter this by saying that the back nine has strategy is spades, and the front nine is visually stunning. When you combine these two factors, you have a really great course.
I would like to thank Tom for hosting me at his wonderful course, and I would highly recommend a visit to Hindhead for all golfers.
This year marks the 20th anniversary I have been a member. So whilst my view can be somewhat biased. It is a perception of a member in my experience of this course. The reason why I have been a member for so long are the metrics I use when rating a course:
Is it an aesthetically pleasing course
Is it kept in good condition (quality of teebox's, fairways, rough, bunkers, greens)
Does it provide variety
Does it provide a challenge
What type of character is the course
To me it ticks all these boxes, a testament in a way to when I joined as a 10 year old. It has never got boring, front and back 9 could not be any more different. In modern day the only thing that you could possibly dock from this course is it's length. However, I challenge anyone to step onto these greens and find them easy (even in the winter).
It's a gem and a personification of a surrey heath land course, wherever I go to play around the world the bench mark the course is compared with is always Hindhead.
Hindhead is an enjoyable course, and the pick of the holes are from the 2nd to the 7th which really utilise the valleys between the tree and heather clad banks. Quite a quirky stretch with some elevated tees, blind tee shots and banks. My favourite hole was the 7th, stroke index 1 and a striking par 4 of 410 yards, sweeping right to left and uphill with heather clad banks either side. After the delightful front nine the back nine although good does not quite live up to the earlier holes. Overall a good course well worth visiting and probably realistically placed in the Surrey rankings
I have played this a couple of times now, most recently on a breezy day a few weeks back. Fairways absolutely excellent, no doubt helped by irrigation. The greens were good and true but not especially quick and you could go to nearby Liphook for better in this respect.
As described in other reviews, it's a stunning course. After the first hole, a medium length par 4 downhill with lots of deep ball losing heather on either side you descend into the stunning valley based holes for the rest of the front 9.
The holes in the valley are stunning but a good number have rather narrow fairways and since my first visit they have grown up the rough and longish heather so that relatively slight misses can result in lost balls and considerable time on ball searches. Compared with the heather lined nearby courses it seemed almost penal in terms of not just costing you a shot trying to get out of hit which I would expect but losing you a ball instead. For ordinary golfers I felt this was a little tough although perhaps it is partly the time of year when the heather is in full flower and at it's most bushy. Our party had respective handicaps of 3,5,7 and 13 and we all spent a fair amount of time doing this even though we are all allegedly vaguely respectable club golfers. Perhaps we should have played the course more conservatively or perhaps we were having bad ball striking days, but we all felt this detracted a little from the enjoyment compared with our past visit and it certainly played tough. In any event I would not wish this complaint to detract from such a stunning set of holes.
It opens up a little on the back 9 and played relatively easier until the 17th, although still lots of heather lined fairways and a good selection of interesting holes . By the end of the round we felt well challenged with many of the par 4's stretching over 400 yards and a challenging set of par 3's. Only the par 5's felt relatively easy to score on and even then not many birdies were made across our group.
Overall it's a stunning course. I find nearby Liphook and Blackmoor slightly more enjoyable to play and more suited to the standard club golfer, but for absolutely stunning visual appeal and brilliant conditioning I think Hindhead is very hard to beat. It's probably more enjoyable for the really accurate hitters (unlike us when we played a few weeks back). Out of the three I'd definitely choose to be a member at Liphook if I could, but for a truly challenging test of golf in a visually stunning setting, Hindhead would get my choice for the one off visit. Just ensure you bring your best ball striking round to the party. Overall it's very good, bordering on excellent.
I had the enormous pleasure of playing this gem yesterday. The course was truly an incredible and unique layout. I'll avoid the hole by hole description as others have already done that better than I could but will say it really must be played to be understood and appreciated. The turf conditions were fantastic even though England is experiencing a dry spell, the bunkers immaculate and perhaps the best putting surfaces I've ever played. Some of the holes are some of the most natural and memorable anywhere. Ian Benson the head pro was incredibly gracious and welcoming and the entire staff and membership were sincerely appreciative of us playing. I greatly look forward to playing here again.
Much has been written about the grandiose nature of the magnificent valley holes throughout the front nine, that alone, make the visit to Hindhead an extraordinarily brilliant experience. Let me say from the outset that the back nine is equally as impressive, and it would be wrong to neglect the quality of the inward half.
The opener exposes you quickly to the beautiful heather and how firm the playing conditions are as they lead you to a slightly sunken green pitched from back to front. Holes 2 through 4 offer a mix of huge changes in elevation, dramatic tee shots, sloping fairways and epic green site locations. Standing on the par 3 6th tee peering down at the green 130 yards away, but 80 feet below you is truly spectacular. Even after a half dozen holes, I well and truly concluded that there is no other golf course like this anywhere – simply breathtaking.
While the beauty is staggering, there is nothing easy about any of it. The 7th is the index 1 hole which meanders through a swerving valley and is strongly guarded by bunkers in front to punish anything less than perfect. The bunkers are progressively being upgraded throughout the course, with at least the first 7 holes being completed. When you reach the brutally difficult 230-yard par 3 8th hole with its tiny green, you’ll see the next phase of the upgrade project.
The opening half will take your breath away, not just because you’re walking up and down steep hills – and it’s appropriate that the 9th hole plays uphill to end the adventure through the valleys.
The head greenkeeper is a fantastic Scotsman and it was clear after chatting with him that he is truly passionate about the property. He is an inspiration and deserves endless credit given how spectacular the playing conditions are.
The back nine is a wonderful walk through more tree-lined holes with perfectly placed bunkers. The heather really defines the playing areas and is being introduced on top of the bunkers – a common feature at courses in Surrey. I loved the mixture of difficult par 4s, shorter par 3s and numerous opportunities to make birdies. The routing of the back nine has a completely different personality to the unique front nine, but as mentioned above, it is a glorious walk and a delightful (and somewhat necessary) contrast to the drama of the valleys.
You have to see it to believe it, and the hospitality is terrific. Once again, it proved to me that there are too many golf courses in England that go under the radar. Hindhead is a must-play when in the London area and will no doubt creep up in the English rankings.
WOW ... despite being a golf course anorak I hadn't heard or read much about Hindhead so what a great surprise and privilege it was to experince the course, especially the amazing front nine through the ice age valleys.
This is a MUST VISIT !