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 is 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.”
Click link to visit the Blog of Hindhead Golf Club’s Greenkeeping Team
Hindhead golf club is a long standing favourite golf club of mine and probably the reason I love heathland golf courses so much. The front 9 holes are quite magical and meander their way through ancient glacial valleys. Keep your eyes open and you will see abundant wildlife including lots of deer and the occasional adder! I played in late September and the Autumnal colours were beginning to show. There is a great variety of trees, including vibrant red Maple so it was quite stunning. Hindhead is not a massively long course but there are many challenging and interesting (not too quirky) holes throughout the course providing a good challenge for all golfers and a bit of heather and gorse to carry. Several elevated and drop down greens require careful thought on the approach. The course was not perfect as irrigation work was underway and the greens had been recently top dressed so were a bit slower than normal, but they were true and very receptive. The fairways were beautiful, particularly as there has been recent drought conditions and green-staff clearly pay attention to detail which adds to a positive playing experience. There is an added benefit of a really lovely half-way house to refuel. The clubhouse is traditional but stylish and members and staff make you feel very welcome. Excellent!
I've had the privilege of playing Hindhead twice in the past three months and was left wanting more on both occasions. Holes 2 to 9 are carved out of a valley and are simply breath-taking.
Aside from an intimidating greenside bunker, the first hole is that simple a hole that I was left wondering what the fuss was all about. I found out as I walked on to the first green and saw the magical valley that awaited beyond.
The third hole is a cracking par 3 - not kind to those who go slightly left. The fourth hole is built in the valley and, while beautiful, it was left exposed as the rough was too short to punish wayward shots. Anything left or right simply returned to the middle of the fairway - I can imagine that is not the case when the rough is in full flow.
The eight hole is a brute of a par 3, possibly too long given it requires an accurate fade with a hybrid/3 wood to reach the green and punishes anything long with trees directly behind the green.
The back nine struggles to keep up with the front nine in terms of beauty but that does not detract from the quality of the design. If anything, the heather seems to come more into play - holes 11, 12 and 14 come to mind with a great risk/reward driveable par 4 on 13.
The 16th is an intimidating par 5 - the approach is possibly a little too intimidating - it is the first part of the course where you hear the road and the hedge that guards the green does not seem high enough to stop wayward shots in to the green from distance.
The finish into the clubhouse is a great touch. Overall a wonderful experience - course was in great condition both days, particularly given the dry summer. The bar staff were friendly and welcoming. Great club.
For those who like a course to use the land that mother nature intended, it doesn’t get much more-pure than Hindhead. As you work your way through the front 9 you could imagine the instinctive realisation and excitement the architect would have felt, as the holes fell in to place through the valley’s utilised from holes 2 – 9. It would be seemingly impossible to have tried to create this type of routing through manufactured course design, even with modern day machinery, which is what gives Hindhead its own unique style.
There have been some subtle changes to the course over recent years, but in speaking to the golf director, it’s clear that retention of the original features of the course is a highly important objective for any improvements. Although there has been recent work to enhance the playability of the bunkers, and the addition of bunkers on a number of holes including the 3rd, the original features of all of the holes remains in-tact and firmly stands the test of time. The course is not one that relies on length for difficulty, as precision in tee shot placement and accuracy with approach to the green are of a premium on every hole. Putting the approach in the right place is also of extreme importance when the greens are at their best if you want to avoid looking clumsy. The green staff have plenty of options to create havoc and catastrophe for a shot ends up above the hole, or in the wrong section of the green as the undulations are vast and severe on many of the surfaces.
Playing the course at different times of the year provides huge variation between shot selection, as it does with any links or heathland course, but what is apparent when playing the course at its driest is that you cannot stray far offline without running into heather or bunkers. Placement over length is certainly the strategy for posting a good gross score around here.
Many the holes are strong, making it hard to pick out a signature hole or one that stands apart, but this is a course of two 9’s and I can say my preference is the front 9, purely for the variety of elevation changes and natural routing. That said, the back 9 is more of a scoring nine, which presents more opportunities to pick up birdies on the march home.
If I was to pick a hole that stands out, I would select the 5th, on the basis that it puts a premium on a draw from the tee for the right-handed golfer to avoid the fairway bunker on the apex of the fairway. A well-judged approach is needed to find and hold the green, which for the majority of players will require a mid to long iron to reach at best. A true test of skill and judgement.
If you do have a chance play this course it would be wise to arrive with ample time to enjoy the ambience and culture of the environment, as this is one of those places that you don’t want to leave. I can imagine that the healthy base of over 600 playing members thrive under a competitive club community here, as this is a club that boasts tradition and values equal to many of the great surrey heathland venues, with a course to match.
S G Bale
I was lucky enough to play Hindhead for the first time the other day, after being invited by an ex-captain of the club.
I had read & been told lots of things about the greens, topography & overall design of the course, so I arrived with great expectations & an open mind.
I must say that I was taken back by the views down the first hole into the Devils Punchbowl area of Surrey, what an amazing view.
Back to the Golf, we played from the back tees & I would recommend this to future players, as its really brings the hazards into play. after a relatively gentle opening hole (great bunker on the right of the fairway), you then play a very picturesque par 5, not long but played from a raised tee down into the glacial valley then up to a raised green (a sign of things to come on the front 9).
Overall I really enjoyed the course (more so the Front 9), lots of heather & well placed bunkers. I wasn't bowled over by 2 of the par 3's (one playing 150yds which dropped off the side of the valley, the other playing 235yds into a 2 club breeze), the longer of the par 3's really needs rethinking, as some of the best Par 3's are under 150yds in length.
That aside, I would highly recommend Hindhead, in the summer the greens run fast & true, we played in October & they were still running around 9-10 on the stimp. Well worth the trip, especially if incorporating with a classic links such as Sunningdale/Wentworth etc...LM
Expectations play a big role in shaping the experience. Having read glowing reviews on Hindhead at this site and elsewhere, mine were unfortunately set too high.
The topography for the holes 2-10 is undoubtedly very unusual in an English setting. I have played over 100 courses in England and Wales and cannot recall seeing anything similar. However, in other parts of the world where golf courses are sometimes put in the most unconventional terrain, it is not unique, so I would perhaps advise a Continental European visitor to pick more traditional heathland designs for a Surrey golf tour.
What I would recommend is to play Hindhead more than once, or to play the course with someone who knows the course well. We did neither and had to spend a lot of time working out how much club to take on many shots as the changes in elevation are substantial.
Also, if you have a non-golfing companion, this is the place to take them along, especially if the weather is clear. The vistas are simply fantastic and Mother Nature is at her best.
On this tour, we played both courses at Walton Heath, St George’s Hill, Hankley Common, West Hill and New Zealand in addition to Hindhead. The views at Hindhead are perhaps the best, but the golf course as such is not a match for Walton Heath, SGH and Hankley.
I have to say this review is spot on. The scenery here is wonderful and majestic, matched by the condition and first class experience. It is a wonderful day trip golf course that exhilerates the senses but the better, harder, more complete strategic challenge, lies just across the border in Hampshire. Blackmoor. Play both, With Hankley, Liphook and Hayling Links for the perfect trip.
Hindhead was the final course my wife and I played on our recent trip to the heathland courses near London. Top 100 editor Keith Baxter arranged for us to play with Club Captain Mark Riley and Club President Mrs. Ruth Hartley (the first female president in the club's 114 years), which proved to be a real treat. Mark and Ruth led us around this amazing golf course and provided us a wealth of information about the course in both its present state and its future plans as well.
There was a threat of rain at the start but it never materialized so we wound up playing in very comfortable weather. The course starts with a gentle downhill par 4 with a green guarded short and right by a bunker capped with gnarly heather. On 2 the drive is hit down into the first of two glacial valleys that the front nine plays through. The green is situated on a bank and guarded by a steep slope in front and a huge drop off to the right. Holes 3, 4, and 5 turn back down the valley, then there is a short walk over a ridge to the second adjacent valley. The brilliant short par 3 6th is played downhill, the the back nine works it way back up the valley. The return is marked by the incredible 230 yard par 3 8th, which almost plays like a dogleg and the testing uphill par 4 9th with it's green steeply sloping from back to front.
The back nine is more of a classic heathland test with 12 being my favorite hole, a 424 yard par 4 guarded by an angled hazard of heather and a severe drop of right in front of the green. 18 is a beautiful finish with the drive framed by two beautiful bunkers and the green guarded by deep bunkers and out of bounds to the right.
The course is about 2/3 of the way through a bunker renovation project that is improving the aesthetics, playability and drainage of the bunkers. The club is not afraid to tweak the playing characteristics and a visit to their website will update you to some of the recent changes. More changes are planned, none of which will change the essential character of the course but will certainly enhance the playability and enjoyment of this fine layout. I'm not sure what I was expecting from Hindhead but this course proved to be one of the highlights of our trip. Many thanks to Mark and Ruth for being such excellent hosts and playing companions. I would encourage anyone interested in visiting a fine course in a spectacular setting to make the trip to Hindhead. Read my story: Diamonds of the heather - golfing London's heathland
A curates egg ! Front 9, resembles St Mellion (not my favourite golf course topography) in that most of the holes have massive elevation changes and played between valleys. There is no doubting the spectacular nature of the holes however. Brilliant first hole, which although 400 yrads is played slightly downhill with a wide fairway and just 1 bunker by the green The back 9 is traditional surrey heathland and just stunning. The par 4, 12th hole is beautiful and the green complex is both unique and remarkable, with a sheer 4 foot drop from fairway to green. Other observations:- 1/. Different colour sand used on the fairway bunkers versus the green side bunkers on the par 5, 4th hole. 2/. bunkering on the 14th is breathtaking 3/. Greens are the best in Surrey, medium paced but like the proverbial carpet.
We played Hindhead on a lovely warm, sunny May day and it is an exceptional experience. To echo the other recent reviews, the course is beautifully presented in a stunning location. Starting with a relatively benign down hill par 4 from the friendly, well designed club house the front nine is almost supernaturally scenic golf with thrilling yet harmonious changes in elevation and terrain with several heather banked valley holes with elevated tee shots, any one of which would be a signature hole somewhere else. You climb out of the valley to the well appointed half way house.to the tough par 3 10th followed by more straight forward but still excellent golf, mixing long par 4's with a short par 4 and wedge par 3 and some great fun green complexes. 17 and 18 are a tough finishing pair, and if it were possible to switch the 9's this would be a clear 6 ball course. Most holes encourage running approaches from tight, firm fine turf leading to great fun golf. As it is, it slightly fades on still strong holes in the middle of the back 9 with some road noise detracting from the glorious solitude, so count this as a strong 5 and a half ball review ! Despite the number of Surrey heathland classics rated higher, I can't wait to go back.
I always struggle to understand why Hindhead is consistently ranked lower than similar heathland courses such as Worplesdon and West Sussex. The greens are fantastic year-round, the greenkeepers are possibly the best in the country for the work that they do with the course and the front nine is one of the most interesting you'll find anywhere. There are a lot of standout holes - the first is one of my favourite opening holes anywhere, the third is a brilliant, tough par 3 and the 4th is one of the best straightaway par fives I've played. You then have the beautiful, signature 6th hole before the front nine shows its teeth with the long 7th, 8th and uphill 9th. The course then changes character to the heathland style and when the heather is in bloom, it's just a beautiful place to be.
There's a great variety of holes on the back nine and the one thing that holds it back for me is the par 3 15th hole, which is just limited. I think it will be different when the trees grow behind the green to cover up the fence, which spoils the view, but the hole really needs a more interesting green complex to add a bit of bite. Many of the bunkers also aren't really in play unless you badly mishit your tee shot. The following par 5 isn't a favourite of mine either, but the club are working hard to redo bunkers to remedy this. However, the last two holes are brilliant - the 17th is a brutal tee shot before an approach that plays in a number of different ways depending on the conditions; you can take anything from gap wedge to 5 iron from the same yardage. Finally, the last is a great finishing hole, with two very good shots required to find the putting surface.
In short, it's a great test - you use most, if not all, of the clubs in your bag and the sheer variety of holes is outstanding. It's one of the best in the area in terms of quality; do check it out if you haven't already.
Well my impressions of this club and course were boosted before we even arrived when the pro offered us a discount on the visitor fee as the greens had been tined and sanded a week before. If only other clubs could take a leaf out of this book, and I have to say the greens, although very slow on the sand, were still running absolutely true and better than many other clubs' greens at their best. Superb customer service.
The course itself is pretty special. The valley system that you weave your way through on the front 9 means you are always playing in isolation, one of my favourite experiences in golf, and the par 3's at 3 and 6 are particularly wonderful. 3 is a brute - there is simply no option but to hit the green! Hit left, as I did, and you go bounding down a drop of 30 odd foot. In the circumstance I wasn't that disappointed with my double bogey. 6 on the other hand is just about beauty, a pitching wedge to a green a hundred foot below.
The topography changes on the back 9 into something more akin to Walton Heath, much flatter, but still great golf. The course is manifestly fair, you see everything in front of you, and if you are hitting the ball well, then the greens will give you a chance to hole some putts. My rating would be 5 and a half balls, but it gets rounded up to 6 for being looked after so well. Very friendly members too.