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.”
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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 !
I have played Hindhead Golf club frequently as I live relatively close to the course. It is a course of 2 nines with the front nine being absoloutely stunning. The 2nd hole being a long and hilly par 5 with a great view of other parts of the course and lots of heather. Hole 6 is a great downhill par 3 and holes 7&9 are also fantastic with heather on either side making them beautiful holes. However there are a few holes which I have never understood and i really don’t think are good at all. Firstly the 8th hole is an extremely long par 3 and often plays into wind so would be around 240/250 yards, in my opinion this is too long and awkward and they need to change it. In addition to this the 15th & 16th holes not great and a bit uncreative however the other 15 holes i absoloutely love and in addition to the great course the halfway hut is superb as it serves everything you could possibly want. This is a great golf club with a fabulous course but i would say that its not quite up there with the likes of Woking, West Hill and Worplesdon.
I hope you have had the opportunity to play the completely redesigned 15th hole and 16th tee areas which were opened for play from May 2019.
Truly superb and great fun! A sporty interesting course with one of the best front 9s I have ever played. We played in perfect sunshine, and the pro, greenstaff and several members went out of their way to greet us. The recent bunker work displayed individuality and excellence, and the conditioning first class.. I have marked as 6 stars which I would usually only give to an Open level course, but having played over 350 courses throughout the UK and Europe will put Hindhead in my top 10. It truly is that good!
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