Queenwood Golf Club, in a similar mould to Loch Lomond and the Wisley, is reserved for its small but perfectly formed membership and their very lucky friends. This is the most secretive golf club in the UK, even a logon id and password is required to access the Queenwood Golf Club website. Secrecy is a great marketing ploy and with membership full and a reputed joining fee of £145,000 it’s little wonder that the club is packed full of golf’s high rollers.
David McLay Kidd, son of former greenkeeper Jimmy Kidd, designed Queenwood and the course quietly opened for play in 2001. Jimmy is now the chief agronomist within his son’s design business. According to DMK Design, “The site is tranquil parkland in west London, an area well known for its classic courses, including Sunningdale, Walton Heath, Woking, Swinley Forest, and more. The area had recently seen some expensive private club failures, in part, I believe, because the courses were too manicured and too predictable. My pitch to the developer, Fred Green, was that Queenwood had to be a departure from that modern style and a return to the heathland traditions of the courses noted above, all of which have stood the test of time”.
The Surrey/Berkshire sandbelt has seen precious little golf course development in the last 80 years and Queenwood harks back to the design principles of yesteryear. According to Fred Green, “DMK Golf Designs' modern interpretation of designs from the ‘Golden age of Golf Course Architecture’ in the 1920s has produced results that far exceeded our highest expectations”.
Golf World magazine commented on Queenwood, in their November 2002 edition: “Queenwood is an ambitious and exclusive club for its A-list of invited members, so a mediocre course was never a proposition. They chose a profile designer with fresh ideas on a classic bent, David McLay Kidd. He has done a masterly job considering this was his first course in the UK. It is a triumph of understatement at first glance despite Kidd’s bunkering which is intriguingly shaped and clad entirely in heather. It is not until you stretch your legs and stroll around that you are hit by the detailing, particularly the greens that roll and pitch like a sea swell. This is real class, from the Pro V1s on the practice ground to the chilled apples by the 10th tee.”
If you've managed to play Queenwood, either by sneaking on, or by buttering up Hugh Grant, Michael Douglas or another wealthy member, you’re one step ahead of most of us. We'd love to know what you think about the course. Why not write a review and let the world know how good Queenwood really is?
I will never take my day at Queenwood for granted. I had stratospheric expectations (interesting podcast from Cookie Jar Golf touched on this recently) going in and this relatively new addition to the Surrey golfing landscape blew them out the water.
Queenwood opened in 2001. The Membership is closely guarded but there are those that don’t mind sharing. The game’s professionals utilise their facilities and many are members themselves, Ernie Els wrote that “The practice facilities are so good they wouldn’t be out of place at a professional tour event and generally there are not many people around so I can concentrate fully on my game.” Truer words have never been spoken – I shall get to this later. But first a play by play of the day.
Tee time was 13:56. Naturally, I pulled up to the intercom at 12:56, uttered the name of my host and the gates lazily swung open. I don’t get nervous playing golf, or top golf courses for that matter, but I definitely had a different sensation in my stomach pulling out of first gear, winding my way between exquisite fairways and greens up to the mock-Georgian Clubhouse.
“Good afternoon Mr Wright, Mr (insert member surname) has not arrived yet but you are welcome to change and have a bite to eat”, said the unsettlingly handsome concierge as I pulled up in my VW – I left the DB5 at home … My clubs were removed from my boot and my keys handed over. I was shown to the changing rooms, not before walking through a gorgeous Mediterranean courtyard – the landscaping here is unrivaled.
I had come straight from work, so wanted to maximise my full experience of the club and changed into my golf gear. My outfit was, of course, picked out the day before and what a place to break in the fresh creps – the new Harris Tweed Footjoy Premiers. I inadvertently got fully unchanged and changed in front a very nice South African fellow who currently holds the lowest round in a Major Championship. It can be really hard to identify golfers without their headwear on, okay!
The locker room was spotless, rows of mahogany doors wrapping round a gleaming bathroom adorned with top tier colognes and other toiletries – all free to use. And to top it all off, the locker room flowed into the classiest of lounges, glorious furnishings and jaw-dropping memorabilia. A bar too, because why not – “Can I make you a drink, Sir?” “Would you like to have lunch on the terrace?”. Proper stuff – impeccable service.
Our first playing partner, Keith, arrived and received the same treatment, followed by an excitable tour by myself. We then took our seats on the terrace, overlooking the driving range. Practice facilities just don’t get better than this. Bent grass teeing areas – hitting out towards perfect targets, framed by heather encased bunkers. We then watched, as our bags were lugged and placed at our own bays decorated with pyramids of Pro-V1s. Unfortunately I had already eaten, but Keith and our host had not. I drowned in envy as the most decadent Club Sandwich arrived – this clubhouse staple was elevated to the highest order – sourdough bread no less. Scran consumed, we (having been joined by our final playing partner – my brother) descended the steps and approached our bags and began striping balls off the pristine turf towards the back of the range. Our aforementioned South African was doing the same and didn’t take too kindly when I roped a couple of drives in his direction. Please accept my apologies.
A gentleman in white overalls, pocketed towel – wet on one end, approached us. Having been a caddy, having a caddy was quite a novelty and an absolute luxury. Today was already a good day and I hadn’t even seen the first tee.
It is so cliché to say “there isn’t a blade of grass out of place” – I mean we hear it every April. But when I tell you that there isn’t a blade of grass out place, I mean it. The grounds here make Kew Gardens look like a recreation ground, or a Milton Keynes roundabout. It is truly stunning and I could have had as much enjoyment even without my sticks. In fact maybe that is the qualifier for a top golf course. I can happily walk around Sunningdale, Woking or Wentworth and have a sensational day, having not hit a single shot. Maybe this is the true criteria for a Top 100 list. Discuss.
Queenwood is idyllic. It perhaps doesn’t have the rustic charisma of Sunningdale, but it gets pretty close. I’d liken it closest to the West Course at Wentworth – for both aesthetics and playability. Sensational putting surfaces, demanding tee shots and eloquent bunkering, all infused with expert heather planting and deliberate water hazards.
It was hands down the most fun I have ever had when playing approach shots. I could actually plan to play the ball behind the pin for it to funnel back. There aren’t many courses in this country where this is possible, whether its due to weather or sticky poa greens. But to watch the ball react as seen on TV is quite the thrill. Putting was equally entertaining, huge putting surfaces but with wicked slopes akin to Woking or West Hill. Pure bent-grass perfection. Creeping bent-grass in fact. Even if you have putted on the best surfaces in the country, you would still notice a difference here. Firstly, the colour of the greens were completely unique – a silvery green, looking like the tightest, most pristine astro-turf you have ever strode upon. We definitely had some enticing and captivating pin positions – I am sure that there would be some implausible ones out there. I can scarcely imagine what this place would look like during the Club Championships – and who would be playing in them!
I can now quite comfortably say that I have had the surreal good fortune to have played, what are considered to be, the two most manicured golf courses in Europe (Real Club de Valderrama being the second). Perhaps I can one day ride the crest of this fortune over the Atlantic to a little town called Augusta. Here’s to that.
Queenwood is the most beautiful and immaculately presented course that I have had the good fortune to play. Everything about it oozes class. The pristine condition reminds me of Augusta with hardly a blade of grass out of place. My caddie mentioned to me that he had previously seen one of the greenkeepers using scissors to trim the grass around the sprinkler heads!
The course itself is beautifully laid out with a good routing through the estate. The majority of holes are secluded giving you the feeling that you are the only ones on the course (possibly because we were!). Lakes come into play on a handful of holes and all are presented beautifully.
It is not designed to be the hardest golf course in the world with relatively generous landing areas and big greens. The greens are fabulous, albeit when I played in April they were not at their summer speed. Given some of the slopes these are the most challenging aspect to scoring well.
It is very hard to fault the course. The overall experience rates incredibly highly and much of that is down to the exquisite presentation of the course. The strategic challenge is arguably a bit lower than a number of other courses which stops it rising to the very top rung of my rankings. Exactly where it places really comes down to what you value most in a course.
I am wary of overemphasising the condition of a course. If you have happened to play the course at the wrong time of year or when the greens have just been sanded then you need to look through that. However if a course is permanently or predominantly in excellent or poor condition then this should effect its rating.
The bottom line is that I’m extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to play Queenwood and would jump at the chance to play there again. I’ve often heard, and used, the phrase “millionaire’s golf” to refer to having a course to yourself but Queenwood is true millionaire’s golf! If you get the chance, grab it with both hands.
When I was younger I used to drive past Queenwood a lot as it is right opposite Foxhills Golf Club, where I was a member for a few years. I always used to look out the window and tell myself that one day I would be inside the metal gates, and play the Augusta of England, that is Queenwood Golf Club. On Monday my dream became a reality.
Everything about the place oozes class and is quite truly sensational. I can’t stress to you enough how much of a great experience Queenwood is. They treat you like royalty, the range balls are free and all Titleist Pro V 1s and the course is as pure as they come. The tee boxes are maintained to perfection, the greens are unreal with sub air systems, which very very few courses in England have. The bunkers are beautifully designed and the fairways are lined to perfection. The whole course is just immaculate.
My favourite holes are the par 5 first, an average length hole which has a great looking approach shot into the green. The par 4 5th is also a great risk and reward hole. A dog leg left with water on the right. The further left you take it the less you have in but then there's more tree and bush that you have to try and get over. The back nine has two of my favourite holes on the course. 10&16 are both great par 4s for similar reasons. The 10th is a downhill drive with the great clubhouse in the background and a dog leg to the right. The second shot goes over water onto an undulating green. The 16th is a short par 4 with water just short of the green and one of the most ridiculous greens you’ll ever play. The 18th is also a great finishing hole, a par 5 and hitting towards the great clubhouse.
Overall, I have to give Queenwood a 6 ball rating. The course is unbelievable and everything is amazingly kept. The whole place is magical and in the summer it is truly an unreal place. Was a treat to play and will definitely be playing it many more times!
I imagine Queenwood to be one of those places that when the invite to play finally arrives it’s met with a lot of excitement. For UK standards it’s extremely private and what I can only call as an American type high-end private club and playground for the wealthy. The facility is really quite impressive and everything there is truly top class. The driving range facility is excellent, pyramids of balls stacked and waiting, excellent manicured turf and an array of targets. Our caddies were already taking good care of us from the onset.
The course I’d have to qualify as a kind of heathland, parkland hybrid with a fair bit of water but excellent firm turf more like heathland. The routing is quite strong but it does give off a more manmade feeling at least for me. The greens are certainly among the best I’ve ever seen in the UK, rolling at like 12-13 on the stimp and being quite undulated, they present a serious challenge, especially on your first go around. I think the course is set up very playable; the fairways for the most part and playing corridors are quite wide. It’s not overly long from the back tees given the perfect playing conditions, but a premium is definitely set on angle of approach to the greens, and with the greens being so fast and quite large it’s really easy to put yourself into 3 putt territory with the tricky undulations.
Overall I really enjoyed the experience and would have to say it’s really very hard to beat the 18th hole playing back to the amazing clubhouse from an aesthetic point of view. Given the extremely high average quality of golf in the UK I would not say Queenwood is a standout in terms of architecture and would not belong in the top echelons of English golf with the likes of Sunningdale, Swinley or Royal St. George’s, however it certainly offers a unique high-end experience on a very solid and perfectly maintained golf course in an absolutely beautiful setting and is extremely fun to play. At the end of the day that is what it’s all about, fun and enjoyment.