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.
Date: March 19, 2017