Comparable in size to the Scottish island of Arran, the Isle of Wight boasts seven golf courses, just like its counterpart north of Hadrian’s Wall. The best of these is this James Braid-designed 18-hole layout, lying close to the small settlements of Shanklin and Sandown.
Tom Dunn laid out Shanklin & Sandown Golf Club’s original 9-hole course in 1900 but, two years later, James Braid was called in to make changes and add another nine holes. The hole numbers were also re-sequenced as the clubhouse was relocated to another position on the course. Harry Vardon and James Braid then officially opened the new 18-hole course with an exhibition match on 15th May 1903.
More land became available in 1923, allowing J.
F. Abercromby to create three new holes (the present day 14th, 15th and 16th) at
the expense of losing one of Dunn’s and two of Braid’s holes and this
development was aimed at reducing the number of dangerous crossover holes on
the course. Other minor alterations have been made down the years but Braid’s
design remains largely in place.
Tumbling over a gently undulating landscape, it’s an old-fashioned parkland course that still features several criss-crossing fairways at holes 1 and 8 then again at holes 4 and 13. The handful of par threes on the card measure between 126 and 220 yards so there’s plenty of variety to be found on the short holes, the best of which is the uphill 5th.Although the layout is not long by modern standards, expect a challenging start to a round at Shanklin and Sandown as holes 1 and 3 are the longest par fours on the course, each of them playing in excess of 425 yards from the back tees. The most difficult two-shotter, however, is found on the back nine at the downhill 13th which is rated stroke index 1 for good reason.
Visited S & S today from the mainland with three friends. We took advantage of a cheap ferry day return ticket and arrived quite early bearing in mind we were not able to tee off until midday. There was a friendly welcome from the clubhouse staff and members alike. At around 10:30am a member approached us and said that he'd spoken to the Pro and they'd all agreed we could tee off when ready as the course was quiet. This was a nice gesture even though we were in no rush. The course was in lovely condition for the time of year with greens running true (although a little slow) and dry fairways. Winter rules were in play but rarely used. By today's standards the course is a little short but our group of mid handicappers still found it a good test. It is a hilly piece of land but elevation changes add to the experience in my humble opinion. As a previous reviewer has mentioned there are a few minor issues such as green and tee complexes close together and having to cross another fairway to get to your own but it doesn't detract from the overall experience. The 17th was the only hole that we found a little out of place. A bland, slightly downhill par three of 210 yards from the yellow tees; it's only defence being the length. A nice dog leg finishing hole with trouble all down the right. Yes the green could be closer to the clubhouse but who cares? The catering was great with the best sausages we've had in a golf club for years! Every member we spoke to was keen to find out how we enjoyed our day. Visitors really are welcome at this members club so take advantage and get yourself over there. We'll definitely return to play the course again in he summer.