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1 mile S of Liphook
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Liphook is as pretty as a picture and one of the earliest examples of strategic design. This delightful, classic heathland course spans Hampshire and Sussex’s county boundaries - it's a course for the connoisseur, not for the dilettante.
The club was founded in 1922. A teacher called Arthur Croome (a partner in the architectural firm of Fowler, Abercromby, Simpson and Croome) designed the course, his one and only. “He did it wonderfully well,” wrote Bernard Darwin in Golf Between Two Wars, “all the better perhaps because he had not much money to do it with and must rely as far as possible on kindly Nature.”
According to the club's history, Tom Simpson joined Liphook Golf Club and became "Master of the Green" and he was later responsible for a number of course revisions.
By today’s standards, Liphook is relatively short, measuring less than 6,200 yards, but with a lowly par of 70. Playing to handicap is another matter. The heather, pine and birch place a premium on line rather than length.
The sandy ground is wonderfully undulating with natural depressions and elevations and, in some ways, the terrain is reminiscent (if a little less dramatic) to that at nearby Hindhead, where there is another charming and understated golf course.
Liphook starts unusually with a par three. “For sheer beauty I think I like best the second hole,” wrote Darwin, “a short one with its knowing little bunkers waiting by the fringe of the green and its clump of dark trees keeping watch and ward behind. The fifth, too, is picturesque with its big golden bunker and its stream.”
Bunkers are audacious, characterised not only at the 5th, but also at the 6th and 11th. The prettiest holes and probably the best sequence of holes is the trio from the 12th to the 14th. If we had to pick a favourite hole, we would plump for the 14th, a short par four doglegging to the right where a bold drive will leave a short pitch to the green, and a good birdie opportunity will be on offer following a well-positioned drive.
Liphook is a classy golf course which does everything well, but in an understated way. A charming course with friendly members – the perfect venue for golf.
A recent major course renovation was undertaken by Mackenzie & Ebert.
I was very fortunate to play at Liphook in October of 2018 - a distant family member happens to be a member here and I was delighted to receive an invite to play, having passed the course on the train virtually every day for the preceding 6th months and thinking that one day I would love to have a knock. A classic heathland and tall pine course mirroring many of the courses on the Surrey sand-belt, I have no doubt that it is capable of matching many of the courses in that area for quality, and it certainly trumps a number of them in terms of value for money - £95 rack rate or £65 twilight is a price tag that you simply cannot disagree with and it is worth every penny. There is no question that this was the finest course in Hampshire 2 years ago, and I hear the recent changes that have been made to the course have been met with huge acclaim. I hope to return again soon to take in all of the new elements.
I had the pleasure of playing Liphook in 2019 prior to its re-design and the delight of playing recently with the new layout in play. This really is a lovely golf course in fantastic condition.
The course opens with a medium/long par 3 but the real fun begins from the second tee where the heather starts to come in to play and influence your thinking off the tee, risk the heather right but keep as open a shot to the green as possible or play left and face a long approach over a large tree to the green.
Particular highlights for me were:
- the beautiful par 3 3rd, well bunkered to stop anything short or right,
- the dogleg sixth where the braver your drive over the heather the shorter and more enticing approach to the green,
- the par 5 7th (previously the 13th) where two firm strikes will get you up to a large green with a good birdie chance. For the shorter hitters or those in trouble off the tee the small stream 100y or so short provides a real second shot conundrum,
- New holes 8 and 9, par 3 and short dogleg par 4 fit in very well with the landscape in particular the par 3 eighth,
- The new 10th is a real challenge with a very narrow landing zone if electing a driver off the tee with water left and bunkers right. The green, with two distinct levels rewards second club shot selection.
- 14th, an uphill par four with a blind second shot. Aim slightly left of the marker post and anything short should funnel greenwards.
- 18th - a fantastic closing hole with the green just in reach for a well struck 3 iron to have a chance at birdie or better, a great conclusion to a tight matchplay competition.
All in a very fun, thoughtful and pleasant (on the eye) course that has been improved by the new layout. Weakest holes probably feel 'weak' due to the standard of many others however being picky these would be the first, fifth, eleventh and sixteenth.
I would be delighted to play Liphook every week.
Personally Stuart, I think that four balls is a little bit mean given the tone of the review. But then you gave Castle Stuart in Scotland 3.5 balls! so at least you are consistently parsimonious with your balls. I like your reviews, keep writing. You make some good points here. But Liphook is a five baller all day long. At least! potentially a six if the tee shot has more interest on 1 and 5? I am sure there always things to do architecturally at every course? Both 1 and 5 are clever holes if you have played them often particularly in how you play to those greens. Which is always a strategical decision denied to the day tripper, so perhaps some more visual interest from afar is no bad thing? We tourists rarely understand the jungle as well as the natives. Best wishes Stuart. Happy golfing.
The E Type Jaguar. Arguably the best-looking car ever manufactured? Timeless and peerless. However, as I am sure you are aware, there is a company that is building “fresh off of the line” E Types. With modern accouterments and technology. It looks like a 60-year-old heritage piece, but it can turn your face into skydiver elastic in under five seconds. The best of both then. Pedigree matched by performance. A snip at £500k.
Now, you will see from Fergal’s Preeminent and faultless review below, how the charms of Liphook “Old” have beguiled him.
Well, good news. Hampshire’s Number one has just elevated itself into serious contention with courses currently ranked far above it. Sunningdale. Walton Heath. St Georges Hill. It is no laughing matter to mention Liphook in the same echelon.
The first Six holes will be familiar to you if you have played here prior to the rerouting and newly constructed holes. Tough, varied and exquisite. 4’s 3’s and 5’s that can break your round if you are not on form. Whatever your score, you will enjoy the journey and the vistas. Sublime.
The old 7th is now the 12th. So you cross the road to play your new 7th. The old majestic masterpiece that was the 13th. a Swashbuckling par 5 that will require two fine and accurate blows to secure the chance of a birdie or better.
Then we have the first of the brand-new Mackenzie Ebert holes. The 8th. a 165 yard par 3 with a three club green, two bunkers to the right and a myriad of possible pin locations that can be downright generous to utterly penal. Carved out of the established forest, it’s a triumph. Classic, subtle and utterly rewarding.
So, to the new ninth. Be careful not to drive into the fairway bunker here. That is the perfect line to leave a wedge shot into a generous green, that might yield a flattering birdie, if you have warmed up by then. It’s a dog leg to the right flanked by two lakes that are really more ornamental than in play.
The Ninth is short enough at 340 yards on the turn to have the bigger hitters looking for a green in one route, sadly, the trees to the right of the fairway preclude this option. I think that is a pity. I always like a hole that could yield an 8 or a 1. Or anything in between. As it is, you have to stick to the script. Pragmatism. Bernhard Langer would love it. Into five feet. Back of Ze net. I suspect that a “big dog” route over the pond, direct to the green might be irresistible in time? Who doesn’t want to see that shot? The old 14th that it replaces used to have a tenuous angle…
By now, you will be absolutely in awe of the new layout, the routing, the conditioning and ambiance. This ground is too good for golf. You will just want to sit and paint water colours. Even though you can’t paint.
Wow, I have gone on too long. If you have not dozed off by now, be rest assured that the new tenth is a top echelon par 4 with water Left and Bunker right. Dare I say Signature hole? After all, there quite a few contenders. But it is a belter of a hole.
Are you laying up to the generous fairway short of the bunker and the pond? To leave a medium to long iron in? Into the well defended and established green complex? Or are you going to rattle one straight down it’s throat? Leaving a wedge? I’d like to see a little more jeopardy over the right-hand bunker in time. It’s too easy to bail right and long over the bunker. Fine tuning. Not the full Jack at Muirfield.
After birdieing the tenth, you will have a pep in your step as you assail the formidable and equally picturesque new 11th, Formally the par 4 12th. Now a Par 5 Measuring 560 yards. Ewan’s Bunkers can still grab you. (sorry Ewan) but from then on it is a three shotter unless you are a tour speed hitter. Refreshing.
Swales to the left of the green are well engineered, however I think the right-hand side of the green is a blank canvas that will not remain untouched for long. It is as flat as a fen, and incongruously under designed. Over all, a vast improvement on what was a terrific hole.
Now we are back to the old 7th. Now the 13th and it is familiar ground here. I suspect that scoring may be quite improved on the back as opposed to the front. All things being unusually equal. Reachable par 4’s and 5’s yield potential birdies more so than the front.
You will all be delighted to hear that the old ninth, now the fourteenth, remains lovingly untouched. You will never forget this one, whether you do well, or not. I would suggest that the pin location board just in front of the tee was amended. Instead of just a back, middle or front designation, it would be progressive to have: “25 on 10 from L”. Perhaps? First time playing? Add 5 yards to the sprinkler and aim ten yards right of the huge post. Middle for diddle.
Anyway, the best tip here, is to look right as you pass the Links tavern pub and you will see where the pin is for yourself as you make your way in to the club.
The old 15th is the new 15th. But it isn’t. The old awkward dogleg to the right has gone, and a 308 yard risk and reward drivable par 4 is the really enjoyable upgrade. 1? 8? All possible. Fantastic. I’d make it tighter for those going at it with the chicken stick. But then I would. Wouldn’t I?
Where 15 has now straightened, leaving the old 15th tee complex redundant, I think there is a new opportunity for 16 which has been overlooked thus far. It was always a 200 yard iron shot to a fairway leaving a short iron from elevation into the green. I would like to see another option. Utilising the old 15th. Giving a player an option over the new bunker, to allow a longer shot, that if accurately struck, would allow a different angle and approach over the ladders of heather to the green below. More is more here.
17 and 18 remain splendidly untouched.
So, what we have here is a club that has all of the panache and understated elegance of a classic English Heathland golf club, that has had the courage, determination and propensity to bring that distant future to now. Familiar to the purist and alluring to the Mods. Where there were 4 holes of contention, there is now only one. Personally, I love the 14th.
Sublime. And It will not cost you £500k. the delight around the club is palpable. And rightly so.
Liphook, designed by Arthur Croome and Tom Simpson, is an interesting course to play. It is not long at 6300 yards yet it is a course that requires clear thinking for the longer hitters as there are several opportunities to cut doglegs but they could run out of fairway. Other holes dictate a shorter club off the tee to not run into heather. It is also a course that requires quite a bit of local knowledge regarding the greens due to the many undulations. This is a course where one must consider which part of the green they want to land on, or which side to miss on due to the slope and speed of the greens.
If one is just off the greens trying for a chance at recovery, one must carefully judge where to land the ball. If on the green, these are some of the speediest greens one will find.
Or so I was told. I played Liphook in the month of January a few years back after a couple of days of rain. The greens certainly were interesting and quick, well-shaped and ran true, but obviously not as fast as they would from spring to late autumn. But one could still see areas of the greens where a stroke struck too firmly will speed by the hole or one struck too weakly will curve to one side or the other.
The greenside bunkering is very good as well with a nice variety of size and depth. There are several bunkers on the course where the front side of the bunker has heather for additional defense.
Other than the greens, it is a relatively easy golf course for those who can control their ball flight and trust the club for the yardages.
I would like to play this course again in the spring, when the rhododendrons are blooming. Combined with the heather, gorse and trees, it likely is one of the more beautiful inland courses one would play. It would also good to see the alterations made to the course.
As to the course I played, there is ample room off most tees with most shots having a carry over heather.
There are not any great holes here, but several are solid. I thought the best holes were the par 3’s with several of the par 4’s also very good such as the second, fourth, sixth, eighth, ninth and twelfth. The front side is more interesting than the back side.
In terms of critiques, the par 5’s are the weaker holes on the course, particularly the eighteenth which should be a par 4. Also, four of the five par 3’s are of a similar length. One wishes eleven and seventeen could be lengthened. This course could have be really special with another 500 yards which would have provided more variety to the holes. Many of the greens are too large for the length of the hole and additional yardage would have fixed that. Today’s “minimalist” golf architects would likely be very pleased with the size of the greens but I am not on the same page for this type of golf course. Finally, the course bends to the right on most of the holes with only a few going to the left.
Starting on a par 3 is sometimes disappointing but given the first hole at Liphook is slightly downhill, the 200 yards is not as intimidating as it sounds particularly as the large green has no bunkers. A miss slightly left of the green can have one’s ball end up on the green due to the swale on the left side. There is a well-placed spine running across the front half of the green. Missing long left will likely mean you cannot stop your ball at a pin on the left.
I liked the second hole, a slightly longer par 4 with a slight bend to the right with a fairway tilted to the left and the green sitting lower and running away from you. The approach shot plays a bit shorter as the land is downhill. It has a very large green.
The third is a mid-length par 3 fronted by two deep bunkers and a green sloped back to front. You play from another slightly elevated tee into a large, tilted green beautifully framed by trees and crossing over heather. I could only imagine how beautiful this hole must be in the summer. This is a fine par 3.
The fourth is also in consideration for the best hole as a long par 4 bending slightly right. A nice patch of heather is between the tee and fairway. The heather continues down the right side of the fairway. Bunkers are at the front but perhaps the bigger danger is going over the green due to the steep fall-off.
A short par 5 is next with a wide fairway going slightly to the left. One hits again over heather with the heather continuing down the right side. For shorter hitters, there are three nicely shaped bunkers on the right for the second shot and two on the left side of the small green. There is a swale at the back of the green but most of it is somewhat flat. It is a disappointing hole.
Six is a longer par 4 dogleg right with bunkers down the left side and two opposite the green. The bunkers are again well-shaped. The green is tiered and small. I thought this to be the best hole on the golf course.
Likely the best par 3 and perhaps the best hole is the seventh, a 150 par 3 crossing over heather to a two-tiered very tilted front to back, right to left green with opposite, large and deep bunkers. There is a sizeable spine roughly in the middle. It is a splendid hole with the slightly hidden green on lower ground. One can see the eighth fairway right behind the green.
A short par 4 going to the right follows with another carry over heather and then heather on either side among the trees. Two bunkers on the left side of the fairway are perfectly placed. Fronting the green again are two bunkers. The green is slanted left to right and again is a large green. I imagine this to be one of the prettier holes in season. The green is one of the more undulated.
The splendid front nine ends with another hole trending to the right. This longer par 4 is uphill. There is a rough area of land short right of the green and a mound near the front left. A tree pinches over the right side of the green. This hole has no bunkers and does not need them. The green is slightly small for the length of the hole and again is undulated with a fall-off on the right. It is another nice hole.
The back nine starts with a short par 4 where the longer hitters will try to clear a road and heather on the blind tee shot. I thought this to be a weak hole.
The par 3 eleventh is a real treat due to hitting over heather, trying to avoid the three bunkers surrounding three sides of this narrow, undulating green. The second bunker on the right is fairly deep and is to be avoided. One could argue it is the best par 3 but not quite as visually attractive as three and seven.
For me the second-best par 4 on the course is the twelfth, a longer, straight par 4 that must be gorgeous in the spring. There are two fairway bunkers on opposite sides and three artfully crafted bunkers at the green. The green has subtle undulations but is flatter than many others.
A shorter par 5 comes going downhill from the tee and then uphill to the green. A ditch crosses the fairway at an angle about 130-140 yards short of the green which is well protected by bunkers and sloped to run off at the front. Heather is on both sides but the fairway is generous. It’s an okay hole.
Fourteen is a sharp dogleg right short par 4 follows with a smaller green. Longer hitters can try to cut the dogleg by carrying the trees. I did not care for the hole as much as others have highlighted it.
Another short dogleg right par 4 follows after crossing the road. It is likely the sharpest turn on the course, again going over a fair amount of heather. A long hitter will try to cut the corner by flying the trees on the right but could run through the fairway on the left. I think this hole is harder for the better players who take the risk rather than the shorter players who merely have to find the fairway. The green is one of the better ones on the golf course with a ridge cutting diagonally through it. There are two longer bunkers on either side. I felt this to be the best short par 4 on the course due to the trees surrounding the green creating a sense of solitude. From the tee one should glance over at the sixteenth green for the pin location.
The third short par 4 in a row follows except this goes to the left. There is a long area of heather and a bunker on the left side for the longer hitters to consider. The green has a bunker on the right and a smaller bunker behind the green. The hole plays downhill and the fairway can easily be reached by an above-average length hitter. The green slants right to left. There are some bushes on the left as one nears the green that creates a nice visual effect.
The final par 3 is of a similar length to all but the first. The tee shot must carry heather nearly all the way to the large green as it feels like a waste area down the right. It is a very large green for the hole and flattish. The hole is not of the quality of the earlier par 3’s.
The finishing hole is a much too short par 5 at only 460 yards. The fairway slopes to the right. Heather and trees border both sides of the fairway and four bunkers on the right lead the way into the two-tiered green. I think the members should change this to a par 4 even if the par goes to 69 as it would change a weak hole into a very good finishing hole.
Putting aside links courses near the sea, Liphook is one of the most beautiful golf courses one will play. Sunningdale, Wentworth, Swinley Forest, St. Georges Hill, are all of a similar bent but obviously of a higher quality due to additional length and more interesting land. This is a course that a better, longer hitter does not need to play except to work on their putting. For average handicappers, this is a good, solid golf course.
Back at Liphook after a year to find that the club is to undergo a major course alteration, designed essentially to avoid the present hairy/scary road crossing after hole 14. The work has started and it looks like three newly designed holes are close to being completed. Withdrawing the poor hole 14 from play will benefit the golf course and a sensible way over the main road will certainly add to enjoyment… the present arrangement is heart stopping!
Liphook is absolutely sublime and shame on anybody in the area for not playing it or being ignorant to its majestic existence. It is my humble personal opinion that golf in England is woefully under appreciated. Visitors from around the world flock to Ireland and Scotland in their millions (for understandable reasons), but arguably the best mix of golf (links, heathland, moorland) is in England.
For years, gems like Silloth on Solway, St. Enodoc, St. George’s Hill and West Sussex fly under the radar without much global recognition – and I can now add Liphook to that list.
Some of the most stunning settings for golf with awe-inspiring green locations. The trees frame the holes so beautifully and it truly feels like you’re walking in paradise. The peaceful isolation and brilliant playing conditions warrant huge congratulations to the green-keeping staff for top notch putting surfaces. We have the vision of Arthur Croome back in 1922 to thank for building this course, his one and only.
The par 4 second hole immediately gave the “wow” factor with a sloping fairway heading up to a slightly sunken green. The entire setting is just gorgeous as your adventure begins. You cross a road on two occasions as the routing is laid out on two paddocks, but the beauty and challenge is very consistent throughout. I loved the angles that are created on almost every hole, with highlights including the drive on the 6th, and the magnificent stretch of dog-leg par 4s 14 to 16. The mixture of excellent routing and perfect planting of heather makes this course a work of art. The opening par 3 didn’t deter from the strength of the short holes, with the 3rd and 7th holes being personal favourites.
I can’t say enough about how strongly I recommend golfers to experience this course. Liphook would be a club I would join in a heartbeat if I lived in the south of England.
I have played here a couple of times and the thing that stands out are the absolutely delightful and very quick, true running greens that the members here get to enjoy day in day out through the season. If there are better greens in the county I would like to know as I don't think I have ever putted on anything better than what they have here. I also love the look and feel from holes 2 to 14, delightful heathland holes from start to finish with lots of interest in each hole's design along the way. It is hard to pick a favourite among them and I love them all. For some reason I am not a great fan of the par 3 first or the stretch from 15 onwards although they're still enjoyable, just not quite the standard to my eye of the other holes but it is just an opinion and others may not agree. It's a great day out and great value and I strongly recommend. I can see why it consistently gets rated best in Hampshire although out of the other top inland tracks, Blackmoor gives it a good run for the money and North Hants and an improving Stoneham are all in contention to try and knock it off it's number 1 perch. If you get an invite, clear your diary and go and enjoy.
I've played a lot of golf courses in Hampshire but Liphook Golf Club is easily the best there is for the county. It is a beautiful heathland course with many great golf holes. It starts off difficult with a long par 3 playing over 200 yards and then followed by a long par 4 with heather all the way down the right side but it looks stunning. Every hole is great and it requires you to play lots of strategic shots in order to get round in a good score. Personal favourites would have to be the par 3 3rd hole, uphill and plays about 150 yards, do not go long because it will leave you with a downhill chip with the green sloping away from you! The 16th hole is fantastic, known as 'the quarry'. A dog leg left with a big quarry on the left hand side, if you keep it straight off the tee then you will be left with an awesome approach shot. The club is fantastic and every time I go there I am in love as it truly is a beautiful course in great condition all year round.
There’s no denying that Liphook is a very fine golf course, 18 holes played over beautiful undulating heathland with fairways that wander through mature woodland.
It has some interesting green complexes, superb putting surfaces, fine bunkering and is a lovely place to play golf.
That all said, something just didn’t quite click for me here and I came away a little underwhelmed.
I know of many others who won’t agree with this sentiment and they sing Liphook’s praises to the hilt. I liked it very much but didn’t love it like I thought I might. Perhaps it just didn’t suit my eye.
Or maybe it was my high expectations, of a course that features favourably in all the various rankings, that wasn’t quite met. There are certainly some excellent holes at Liphook but the highs weren’t quite as high as I anticipated, or indeed had hoped for.
I played it on the same day as nearby Blackmoor and contrary to popular opinion I found its near neighbour to be superior, albeit slightly, in most departments. It’s personal opinion of course and a second playing of each venue may well change my perspective but for now I can only write about my initial experience.
Maybe Liphook saves the best for last because the 18th is a real cracker with a blind drive and lovely looking approach. It’s a modest par five at just 462 yards and will allow many golfers to finish on a high note.
I strongly suspect I will return to Liphook for another look. Fingers crossed it’s a grower!
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Quality course, deserving of being at the very top of the county listings. You will probably not play faster greens anywhere than they get them here, the course is a delight, except for the busy road which punches through the site and which you have to cross twice. It is difficult to find much wrong with the layout although personally, I do not think holes 15 and 16 are up with the rest of the course as they seem to have been "squeezed" in whereas you do not feel that anywhere else on this wonderful layout. A must play if you find yourself in the area.