We were lucky enough to play St George's Hill on the beautiful May Bank Holiday. It's a private club, but I must mention Secretary Gary Peddie who was very helpful in assisting our visit. From the drive through the exclusive private estate to the last putt, the whole experience was tremendous. For any fans of the peerless PG Wodehouse golf stories, I can't imagine a better template for its nameless club than SGH. One expected to find the Oldest Member on the well appointed terrace with his labrador, gazing across the lovely heathland golf course watching the progress of the Wrecking Crew down the first opining "Golf (resumed the Oldest Member) is the Great Mystery." The lovely touch of prize lists being painted on the stone columns of the stunning club house is most atmospheric. And to the golf - the first and tenth both have elevated tees and challenging drives in opposite directions from the Starter's hut, and the fun doesn't stop until you return back to the club house with tricky raised approaches. There are sensational views and vistas, surprising changes in elevation and brilliant conditioning. We were told that the club is aiming to move back towards Colt's original design, so would love to make a return visit including the Green 9 (which is also being improved) to see how they go ! A brilliant experience.
I want to start by saying that St George's Hill is the best course that I have ever played and I have played quite a lot of big named courses over the years. We played last October and got lucky with the weather in that whilst it was windy, was dry and relatively warm for that time of year. We played all three nines, the blue, the green and the red and can honestly say that there wasn't a weak hole in the 27 let alone one of the nines! Our entire 4-Ball agreed on this.
The Starter was an American chap with a cravat who was very polite and gave us a warm welcome to the course. He also gave us some good golfing tips and was humorous which helped put us at ease.
The course itself was majestic and in perfect condition. Lots of elevation changes and strategy required. Some cracking par 3s one of which illustrated they don't have to be long to be great. Each hole seemed to be perfectly framed by the trees and heather. The bunkers looked aesthetically perfect and in line with their surroundings.
I couldn't eulogise enough about St George's Hill and to top it off, the hospitality in the bar and restaurant area was warm and welcoming and the food was tremendous.
I can't wait to come back and play such a magnificent course again someday.
The rankings are absolutely correct in terms of ranking versus the Surrey courses (ex Sunningdale) and StGH is certainly a level above them, including Swinley, which is ranked 1 place higher. In terms of aesthetics, this course is on a par if not better than the 2 courses at Sunningdale. The gorgeous first hole with the tee shot from a elevated tee is a memorable way to start. It is tempting to go through hole by hole as StGH is that good with no weak holes. The set of par 3s offering both beauty and variation in length - wedge to 3 iron. The only slight downside is that, as a surprising hilly course, whilst the downhill vistas are extraordinary, what goes down must come up at some stage and there are a couple of holes where you cannot see much of the green and flag (I realize this a very personal view). Standout holes include:- 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 13 & 16. In summary, this is a seriously good golf course.
As long as golf is played the debate about which is the best Surrey heathland course will rage.
It's a puzzle that will never be solved because it's such a subjective question. However, what is certain is that St. George's Hill will always be a contender. And a very strong one at that.
Harry Colt has once again created a golf course that takes the golfer on an amazing journey throughout the 18 holes. At times the pace quickens and sets the pulse racing. At other periods the exploration of the course slows but only to once again intensify to another crescendo.
The course winds its way through a very exclusive neighbourhood and gets off to a flying start, under the shadow of the magnificent clubhouse, with a thrilling drive across a valley to a rising fairway before you play to a green tucked away at the top of the climb.
It's difficult not to wax lyrical about how good St. George's Hill is. And it's aptly right up there with the best England has to offer.
In many ways it's poetic golf. The setting is bordering on surreal and the route the course chooses takes you on a fascinating journey through the pines and heather.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.