It’s classically British at Woodcote Park at the exclusive Royal Automobile Club. Herbert Fowler originally designed the RAC's Old golf course and it offers a lovely parkland challenge in the heart of Surrey.
The RAC club should complete a five-year master plan in 2021, spearheaded by Mackenzie & Ebert, aimed at restoring the Old course and the shorter Coronation course to their original Herbert Fowler heritage.
The restoration of the Old course, which dates back to 1913, has now completed and this Golden Age classic should rise higher in our future Surrey Best In County rankings.
Mackenzie & Ebert commented as follows:
"The Old Course has been the focus of all the work so far with the Club stating a clear aim - to commit to a bunker refurbishment programme that will form part of a larger restoration project. A historic review of the course showed many features which were from the original Herbert Fowler layout. Almost every green and two thirds of the bunkers remained in the same position. A promotional pamphlet from 1915, when the course was opened, made it clear that it was designed on a grand scale with large golfing features and big vistas.
With many bunkers remaining in the same position, it was apparent that many were not relevant to the best players and were only succeeding in making the game harder for the shorter hitters. In October 2015 work began on the reshuffling of the bunker pack as well as the removal of a number of trees to help the course return to its Downland character.
The final change to be made to the course was the rebuilding of the par 3 13th, a short hole that had become much smaller over time. This took place in the winter of 2016/17."
Like Stoke Park, RAC gets a lot of attention for its clubhouse. Without the clubhouse, the course wouldn't be looked at so highly.
The course is nice, with interesting hole and elevation change. However, it's the same as 90% of parkland courses in England, and nothing special.
I have always enjoyed my days out at The RAC Club. The facilities are excellent with a mix of formality in the grand main building or the more relaxed environment of the 19th hole. The course itself has had a major revamp over the past few years with the renovation of all the bunkers which now frame both fairways and greens….this was an area which let the course down prior to the works. The light grey sand really stands out and despite comments about the bunkers playability I did not experience any issues. The positioning of the bunkering is also well thought out and unlike before the player needs to think first before taking their tee shot. The green complexes are excellent…some of them are huge with some significant undulations. A number of the greens are raised which the player needs to take into account before choosing their club which I feel adds to the enjoyment and the challenge of the course. The RAC Club suffers from the fact that Surrey posses the strongest set of courses in GB&I but if you receive an invite to play it is worth the effort.
A pleasant course with some very good holes but let down by some awful bunkers (little or no sand) and greens of average quality. Fairways aren't watered apparently so expect plenty of run in the summer. I can't see this edging higher in the rankings as the main review alludes to, having played some higher ranked courses.