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.”
Click link to visit the Blog of Hindhead Golf Club’s Greenkeeping Team
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.
We played this course on a 36-hole day ticket in early July. A warm day where we were met with drizzle and mist in the morning followed by clear sky's and sun in the afternoon. This is simply the best course I have ever played in my young golf career. Each hole has incredible character and most tees are elevated above the valleys where you play down into tightly mown fairways. Like all great courses good shots are rewarded and can yield birdies where bad shots are punished. The greens were spectacularly true and very quick. Some just needed breathing on to reach the hole if you left yourself the wrong side. A stern, rewarding and beautiful test of golf. Still many courses to visit but if my last round on earth was here I would die a happy man...
You arrive and the course feels so unassuming, the staff were welcoming, it is peaceful and calm. However, when you stand on the first tee a par 4 of over 400 yards it is time to focus. The course is definitely a course of 2 halves and the front nine is just full of standout holes. Having read reviews of Hindhead I was awaiting a let up on the back nine and this could have caused the problem we expected and therefore maybe lost a bit of focus. While the back nine is not as good as the front this is only because the front is so good. Keep your focus on the back nine it deserves and needs it. As for the greens I have played over 300 different golf courses around the world and I struggling to remember better greens. I think it maybe easier to list the non stellar holes than the stellar ones, however this is all down to choice, so just go and play here. I have played a lot of the top courses in Surrey and in my mind it is better than all three of the Ws, Hankley Common and we are in big debate as to how it sits against St George's Hill. If I could give this a 5 and a half I would.
Playing off the white tees at 6390yards the 1st offers up a generous fairway getting my round off to a routine bogey. Standing on the 2nd tee Luke Donald could do worse than spend some time with his oil & canvass as the view across the valley was just breath taking, not a bad par 5 to boot. My first standout hole is the par 3 third at 193yds to a narrow green with no bail out whatsoever. Bunkers right & a fall off left that had most of our four ball fighting for a bogey. Great short hole! Four & five continue through the valley asking for cut approach to four & a draw tee shot at the dog leg fifth. I was really starting to like this layout of designer JH Taylor, he who was famed for many a dog leg as a design trait. Contrasting par 3s in length, 6th short as in a 9ir & 8th for me a driver on the day mixed up with a couple of solid par 4s brought us to the best half way hut this side of Sunningdale.
The back nine although not as memorable as the front nine still had some classic stand out holes starting with par 3 tenth & typical of all the par 3s at HH with plenty of hidden danger. The par 4 SI 2 14th hole asked for two solid knocks to a green that although relatively quick on the day I would not want to get on the wrong side of the pin in high Summer. The run in from here was a good mix up of solid par five sixteenth and intimidating tee shot off 17 with the match tightly balanced. 18 for me was the best finishing hole this year! 441yds and slightly uphill the tee shot asks for a pro draw before hybrid approach to a green tucked in just under the nose of the clubhouse bar.
It was in the Alliss bar post round after a lovely shower that it really started to sink of what a gem of a club HH is. It is little wonder the Surrey county team hone their skills here given the course condition especially the greens. If you haven’t played it you won’t be disappointed.
Martin invited me to play Hindhead earlier this month and so, after being too long away (some 8 years), I returned to sample one of Surrey’s delights. A gorgeous, shirt-sleeved autumn day set the tone for yet another engaging round.
I’m impressed with the changes… the greenkeeping team here at Hindhead are something else. The programme of heather regeneration is working really well. Far too well for my rather wayward game I must admit - I left a couple of my Srixon’s in the purple stuff for the members to find and then lose at some later date. The work to the bunkers and green surrounds belies the reality that these renovations are so very recent. But the most impressive change in my mind is the raising of the 14th tee, which has transformed the tee shot’s value and is an aesthetic triumph.
Despite torrential overnight rain, the course played well and it was useful to see how the bunkers were holding up under such difficult conditions. The short answer is that the bunkers played really well. But I do hope most sincerely that the club decides not to adopt the grey sharp sand, which is being trialled across a number of bunkers. The sand is perfectly good to play from, but is entirely the wrong colour, and in my opinion will jar with the natural colour palette of this unsung course. Finally, I concur with the previous reviewer. I too would want to be a member here at Hindhead if I lived closer and they’ve got a pretty good club team too. Hindhead were runners-up to Southport and Ainsdale in the 2014 English Champion Club tournament. Keith Baxter