29 Camp Road,
- +44 (0) 208 9462125
SE corner of Wimbledon Common
Welcome, contact in advance
"The Royal Wimbledon Club was founded some two hundred and sixty years after the Royal Blackheath," wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, "and yet golf is still so young a game in England that the two appear of almost equally hoary antiquity. There is an old-fashioned air about the golf at Wimbledon – an atmosphere of red coats and friendly foursomes made up at luncheon, which is exceedingly pleasant."
Golf was probably played on Wimbledon Common in the early 19th century. Records go back to 1864, suggesting that some of the London Scottish Rifle Volunteer Corps, who were posted nearby, met on Wimbledon Common to form the London Scottish Golf Club. Tom Dunn designed the original course and the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club came into existence in 1882. But there was trouble brewing in the ranks of the two clubs and eventually, in 1907, the Royal Wimbledon Club moved to its present location at Caesar's Camp and Willie Park Junior designed this "new" course.
"A wonderful place is this new Wimbledon course," wrote Darwin, "for as soon as we are on it all signs of men, houses and omnibuses, and other symptoms of a busy suburb disappear as if by magic, and a prospect of glorious solitary woods stretches away into the distance in every direction." Even today, visitors will experience a delightful peaceful atmosphere. But the course we play today is very much the work of one of Royal Wimbledon's many famous members – Harry Colt. Some other well-known members include Roger Wethered and Lord Rothschild.
Royal Wimbledon is a tough test with narrow undulating tree-lined fairways. Accuracy is all-important on this 6,348-yard par 70 course. One of the best holes is the 12th, a long semi-doglegging par four, measuring 452 yards from the medal tees. After a solid drive you'll be left with a tough approach shot to a plateau green.
One of the easiest holes at Royal Wimbledon is the short par four 6th. But we bet you can't match the remarkable feat of the former Royal Wimbledon Captain, Edward VIII. When he was Prince of Wales he holed out in one on this 265-yard par four.
Tom Mackenzie completed phase three of a Course Development Plan in 2018, with work carried out on the 6th, 11th, 13th and 17th holes. Paths were re-routed and re-surfaced, trees were cleared to open out views and promote heather regeneration and bunkers were refurbished to give them more character. Phase four in early 2020 saw the par four 2nd and par three 5th reopen after refurbishment.
For a course that we can certainly call a Surrey great (#19) and also strong in country (#82), Royal Wimbledon does not get the attention of others either in the area or those with a similar ranking – and do you know what, I think the club are very content with that. Visitors are welcome but there are a few hoops to jump through and a pretty strong green fee unless you play as a guest of a member or you live locally. As visitor numbers are going to be way lower than many courses, course reviews/opinions are likely to be less than the competition, hence a slightly under the radar feel but the bottom line is, this is a wonderful course and is a must play, if you can.
There is a note in the course guide from journalist John Ingham about how some people could not understand why the course is not more famous. “The reason is not baffling; the club has never chased publicity – it just lets the course speak for itself. And it does – every round is an adventure and a memory”.
I played here for the first time in September 2019 with the course manager, Nick Paris (ex-Camberley Heath); Nick is one of the new breed of young course managers that just love their work, love course and club history and make the job of blending course traditions with the modern ways look rather easy. Add in the course development work from Tom Mackenzie over the last two years and a very good course has become even better – those associated with the club told me that this is the best they have ever seen it.
The course starts strongly; a big par-4 playing up to 425 yards and dog-legging to the right at about half-way – if you can see the green for your second you have hit a beauty of an opening shot but there is no shame with a bogey at the first at all. The toughness of the opening continues as the first four holes, all par-4’s and all over 400 yards; there is an element of hanging on to a score on this early stretch.
The first par-3 is at the 5th and like all of the short holes is really good looking. 166 yards with strong bunkering short and left – chances for everyone here. Chance too at the short par-4 6th hole – which should be played, 190 yards straight and then wedge one close but there is a 225-yard blind line to the green over a lot of dead ground – it is certainly worth a try but maybe not on your first visit.
One of each par to complete the front nine, with the 9th another short par-4 at 278 yards – as this is a little uphill the best play here is a shot of around 180 yards from the tee just to take the bunker on the left at this length out of play. The front nine is a great collection of holes and a joy to play.
The back nine is not too shabby either – the 12th at 452 yards, stroke-index 1 and slight move to the right is a beast – only two bunkers on this hole; one to protect a miss-hit tee shot at around 180 yards on the right and a lone one short and right of the green – a hole that will have many more 6’s than 4’s I think. The very next hole a par-3 at 159 yards is similar in look to the 5th but the green is tougher with some very steep borrows.
The 14th could be my least favourite – still a good hole and another big Royal Wimbledon par-4 test. 451 yards turning right but with a fairway sloping left and also out of bounds left and right, the left side to protect the practice ground, so it is probably that which is not perfect on the eye. Love the dead ground between the bunkering 40 yards out and the putting surface though, a real optical illusion when playing the approach shot.
The final par-3 is at the 17th – and the shortest of them all, only 136 yards at most but now with seven bunkers protecting (previously five / two new ones built to the left of the green). Also, this is such a fast green from back to front meaning that hitting the green does not guarantee a par on the penultimate hole.
The home hole gives a chance to finish well, under 350 yards and if you can avoid a couple of bunkers on the left at 200-220 yards then an approach to this slim green will be with a short iron.
Overall, Royal Wimbledon as a club and course is right up there with some of the more well-known top courses and the current ranking positions in my opinion are the minimum of what can be achieved in the coming years. Highly recommended for so many reasons and can it be called a classic? Yes for me.
RW is simply a lovely course. It's a nice walk, it's not long, and it's not too hard. It has great variety in length of holes, with short par 3s and short par 4s a feature.
I can't stress enough how much you have to play it if you're in the area. Lovely track.
Royal Wimbledon is a great golf course and I enjoyed my trip here for many reasons. Firstly the club is great and full of history with an absolutely huge practice green which I thought was very nice. The greens were in pristine condition and rolled very well and there were many interesting holes which I thoroughly enjoyed playing. My favourite hole would be for me the short par 3 17th as it looks beautiful and is a great par 3. In my opinion I think Royal Wimbledon could be ranked higher as it is a very tidy course in great condition however I can see why it isn't as high as a lot of the other golf courses in surrey as it does feel like a lot of the holes repeat themselves and feel a bit similar at times. I would give it a 5 ball ranking as for me it ticked a lot of boxes for a great golf course however I can see why people give it a 4 ball ranking. On this occasion I will be generous as I like the course.
I recently took the opportunity to play Royal Wimbledon Golf Club in their 36-hole scratch open competition, The Royal Wimbledon Trophy.
It’s a golf course that has long been on my radar to play but the consequence of having to drive deep into London coupled with a hefty visitor green-fee of £155 had delayed the process.
However, following the strong recommendation from a playing partner last year and for the princely sum of just £60, which includes food before, between and after golf, I decided to play The Club’s flagship amateur event in September 2017. Handicap permitting (you must be off 4 or below to enter and this often gets balloted lower) I will be back because this is an extremely good and underrated golf course.
Absent from virtually all of the rating lists Royal Wimbledon is on a par with, and indeed superior to, several of the inland venues that regularly grace the rankings.
It is the third oldest golf club in England dating back to 1865, has a rich history, storied membership and has played a significant role in the evolution of the game of golf.
There are two distinct sections to the course. The upper part of the property is played over a tract of tight, firm heathy land whilst the lower section, which we dip into twice, is predominantly parkland in nature.
The best of the golf can be found on the 13 heathland holes and there some absolute gems amongst them.
Recent tree and shrub clearance, particularly around the green sites but also close to the fairways, is now paying dividends with speedier rounds, firmer ground conditions and improved playing surfaces.
Royal Wimbledon is the real deal in terms of challenge and it also packs a big punch in the entertainment stakes.
The route that the course takes, which Colt altered significantly but not entirely from Park, is very enjoyable. The visits to the parkland holes are well spaced and we’re in and out quickly enough for it not cause a big issue. There is a hub of activity around the 1st green, 2nd tee, 5th green, 6th tee, 12th green and 13th tee as all paths cross and this is also where the ‘halfway house’ is located.
The Club – who I suspect don’t seek nor desire publicity - probably don’t want to read this but Royal Wimbledon should be included in all the magazine and website rankings. It should also be quite lofty and therefore more visitors would sample this fine specimen of a golf course.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Just a point if clarifation on the age of the course.
It is London Scottish Golf Club, which neighbours the course which dates back to 1865.
The Royal Wimbledon Course was first set up in 1907 by LSGC members who left the club due to issues between the army regiment and civilians.
The course, more or less as it is now, was laid out by Harry Colt in 1924.
Royal Wimbledon's inconspicuousness in the echelons of the golf rankings is a classic case of old school, a sign of a club not welcoming commercial partnerships and general outsiders. The facilities all-round are extremely good, David Jones of tour-fame has done a great job in establishing a shop brimming with quality clothing and equipment, plus very welcoming team of teaching staff. The old dining room and the long veranda room intertwine to offer one of the most majestic entertainment areas in SW golf if not the country. There is a long driving range where you can hit off the turf and a new short-game area in construction.
An original Harry Colt heathland course, it is also one of the most savage, unrelenting and least-sympathetic you will ever play; the new green staff has done a great job in returning it to it former glory. You have to have your game switched on for the entire 18 holes if you don't want to shoot hundreds. Not long on the card but many par 4s play down then hit back up, most where you have to hit a good drive to just give yourself a chance at hitting the well-guarded greens. All the par 3s require a well-struck shot to carry the whole yardage.
However its once you're on the putting surface that the fun begins. When Jack Nicklaus described putting as "a game within a game", he'd probably just played in the Spring Meeting at Royal Wimbledon. Large, undulating, very quick at times, you have to be able to read line and length, occasionally you can putt off the front. Basically off first or second shot, there's nowhere to miss, if you dont hit the green you're essentially toast, generally demanding an extremely delicate chip to save par. You will recognise this in the scores in the members' medals.
Pretty at times but also very intimidating, the only relief is the well-stocked halfway hut which as grace would have it you pass multiple times. The two par 5s are the most obvious opportunities to pick up birdies, however par is a huge relief at every other hole, even considering the short 6th, 9th and 17th & 18th. Its a shame about the changes they've had to introduce to the 1st & 18th which if anything only makes them harder. The only downside is the amount of traffic the course gets which makes conditions less playable as the day and season goes on. Which is a pity because at its finest (which is truly is a several occasions during the year) it is a beautiful and unbelievable test of golf.
I wouldn't say its a shame that the club isnt more welcoming to more commercial, competitive and outside event, but as far as a level of challenge is concerned it definitely deserves to be in the Top 30 in England and maybe the Top 50 in GB & I. You will never beat this course.