Less than 10 miles from Buckingham Palace and close to Kew Gardens, Royal Mid-Surrey occupies an historic piece of Crown property. Part of the back nine is laid out over land where two Royal Palaces once stood. The course is predominantly flat, with a little undulation near the River Thames, but the quality of the design succeeds in maintaining interest levels throughout. Some may suggest that it's a little short at just over 6400 yards with a par of 69, but in reality, the routing is rather tight in places and with seven par -4's over 400 yards the Standard Scratch score of 72 says a lot about how it plays.
J H Taylor's clever original design, including numerous well positioned mounds, gives a distinctive character to the course, as well as adding to the challenge and creating more visual interest. The 2nd,3rd and 4th are all good examples of the mounding coming in to play from the tee. Although his style of work is not something I've come across anywhere else inland, I think it's fair to say that he did a excellent job. More recent renovation work by Martin Ebert has added to the quality of the bunkering and dramatically improved the green complexes. Many of the greens have been raised and extended to their original size with much more undulation and numerous run-offs added.
The shorter front half offers the best opportunity to make your score with many of the tougher par-4's appearing on the back nine. I enjoyed the holes around the turn, the 10th with its long narrow green and impressive bunkering followed by the partially hidden green at the short 11th being memorable. There are only two par-5's, the 14th, in particular, catching my eye with its small undulating green protected by bunkers and a narrow, sunken entrance, all helping to create a fun approach shot. This is the start of an excellent finishing stretch with three par-4's measuring over 400 yards plus a par-3 at well over 200 yards which will test all but the very best.
It's probably fair to say that playing beneath a busy Heathrow Airport flight path could be distracting for some but I wouldn't say that it bothered me too much on the day of my visit. After a quick bite to eat in the excellent new clubhouse I ventured out to play the shorter Pam Barton course. Whilst almost a thousand yards shorter and lacking some of the design features of the main course this is a very pleasant layout nonetheless and no doubt a valuable asset to such a busy and popular club. Brian W
Date: November 29, 2018