- +44 (0) 1428 725880
1 mile W of Liphook
Welcome, twilight greens fees available
Peter Alliss, Dave Thomas
The Old Thorns Estate was acquired by businessman Ken Wood in the late 1940s – a decade before he made his fortune with the development of the Kenwood food mixer – and it would take another 30 years to bring to reality his vision of a golf course within his 400-acre property.
Commander John Harris drew up plans for an 18-hole layout in the mid 1970s but sadly his death meant the commission was passed to Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas, a design team then riding the crest of a golfing wave, having recently created the Lansdowne course at Blairgowrie and the Brabazon course at The Belfry.
Such was the influence of Ken Wood in 1982, the year after Old Thorns was completed, he was able to assemble a four ball to mark the official opening of the course comprised of Bill Rogers (current Open champion), Seve Ballesteros (the Masters champion from two years before), Jack Nicklaus (US Open champion in 1980) and Isao Ioki (runner up to the Golden Bear in the US Open two years previously).Fairways are routed over a heavily wooded, undulating landscape that’s part moorland and part parkland in nature with several natural springs and ponds involved along the way. The par five 6th is the longest hole on the scorecard and it features a large tree in the fairway where it dog legs right to the green. On the back nine, the 268-yard 15th is a delightful short par four that plays to a raised green that slopes markedly from back to front.
I arranged 2 four balls and played Feb 2019. Very disappointing. The course has clearly not had any money spent on it. The fairways were a disgrace, divots all over, hard to differentiate rough and fairway in many areas.
The greens were poor, balls didn’t run true at all.
Many of the tee boxes were off mats. The course frame is good with a number of interesting and scenic holes, but if it isn’t been looked after, it isn’t worth playing. Very, very disappointing, especially as I chatted through condition etc with the pro shop prior booking.
Cheap rate at £25 a head, but avoid booking here due to the sub standard playing conditions.
I appreciate its January . . . but the course conditioning was AWFUL! Many holes played off mats; fairways bare and in many cases with turf ripped up and left in piles; greens either scalped or as long as carpets (I forgive the hollow tinning, but the green staff behaviour was disgusting - on one green someone ruled their machine over my partners ball! Deliberately!); bunker fill really variable; 9th temporary hole rubbish (but required because the hideous new apartments apparently made the good original 9th hole "a health and safety issue" which wasn't discovered during planning). Again, it was cheap (£25) but not really worth it. We spoke with some other players who agreed with us that the course design is generally good and challenging - but the conditioning was dreadful. So leaving aside the conditioning this week - the general experience. I knew this place when it first opened in the 1980s, run by the Japanese. It was exclusive and everything revolved around the course. First impressions now - the car park is like something from Tesco (and full on a Friday morning!); and the buildings in front of you are also like an out of town shopping centre (and not in a good way). There is even a Starbucks (!) being used by villager mummies and travelling road warriors as a place to meet (goodness help the village centre!). You cannot see the course now as its behind some newly completed timeshare apartments. The commitment to the course can be understood from the fact that to access the changing rooms you go through Starbucks; through the Sports Bar; past the kitchen and toilets and then into the (nice, clean and well equipped) changing rooms. It's a long way from there back to the first tee. You get the impression early that this place now clearly focuses more on the casual food market, conference centre and gym / pool than the golf. Once you find the course, through the labyrinth of buildings, it's actually quite a pleasant surprise! The first 7 holes make the most of the land and the views. The pines are plentiful and beautiful. The views expansive across the tree tops to Surrey. The 1st a fair start (keep it left of the tree!); the 2nd a par 5 with a challenging green; the 3rd is long and stunning; the 4th set in a wonderful pine dell; the 5th the signature drive from high on the hill into a pine corridor toward a pond protected green; the 6th an interesting and challenging par 5; and the 7th a par 3 over a pond, somewhat like the 16th at Augusta. BUT - the 8th tee is right next to a very large (and noisy!) scrap yard which is very visible and audible. The 9th used to run next to very visible 80s houses - but is now a significant walk from the 8th green to access the temporary par 3 green. To be honest the back 9 doesn't really live up to the first 7 holes - the 15th is a bit of a joke hole (who props a green up on sleepers reducing all the playing options??).However the last 3 holes offer a good and tough close (don't go left at the par 3 16th!!!). I know I'm spoilt being a member at Liphook GC (incidentally, we went there for lunch and the course conditioning was amazing - proving what can be managed by effective green keeping just 2 miles away); and that it was cheap. I would even forgive the scrap yard and ruination of the 9th (just for profit) if the conditioning was better. I think that the environment really says it all here - there has clearly been massive investment here in the last 10 years, but none of it seems to have been put into its greatest asset, the golf course. All a bit sad really. Unless you want cheap golf I would spend the extra and make use of any of the far superior courses in the locality at Liphook; Petersfield; Hindhead; Blackmoor; or Hankley Common.
Slightly harsh and as a review I checked out when you said the 7th is like the 16th at Augusta.
It’s a reasonable course that's in great condition in the summer months and is comfortably better than Petersfield.
I agree about the 9th hole though, one of the best on the course has been spoilt
My favourite thing about this review is that it comes almost 12 years after the previous course summary from this reviewer. Glad to discover he’s alive and well!