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
Date: August 07, 2018