Driving into the St George’s Hill Estate you experience an air of exclusivity that you might feel will translate into a cold welcome, but I found that far from the reality. The pro informed me the course was reasonably empty so my round would be one of ‘millionaires golf’. With the exception of myself, that may have been literally the case here. I liked the way the red and blue nines start and conclude right by each other and all within sight of the impressive red brick clubhouse, which must allow the members conveniently to play a quick nine holes of a summer evening. It shows how well considered the use of land was by HS Colt in designing the layout. His career is considered so favourably today in no small part due to the quality parcels of land he received when designing so many courses and this is no exception. And what heathland topography he was been presented with: there are enough undulations to keep any golfer exhilarated and befuddled in equal measure. The heather is mercifully not as abundant as at other Surrey classics, with no real forced carries on already long holes. This may change in future years however with heather regeneration projects already in place. The fairways are wide enough so as to be not too intimidating, although optimum position will make the approaches easier to pins almost universally located near the edges of the greens. This was a slight disappointment as I fall into the old school camp of believing that any course should be set up with a variety of pin positions, (roughly 6 difficult, 6 straightforward and 6 somewhere in between). The greens run true, at a lovely pace, despite still showing some evidence of hollow tine marks. Many of the green sites rise up from the fairway but all look uncontrived, blending seamlessly with the terrain, although that is often the case with courses that have been around for almost a century. The par3s offer great variation in shape, elevation and length. The 11th at just 107 yards from the yellows, and with a breeze behind, shows that length isn’t essential for challenge as a nice clipped wedge is still required to hold the putting surface. Good iron play is a distinct advantage with many of the greens being multi-tiered or crowned, or a bit of both. The par5s are good, if a little on the short side, it’s just a shame there are only two of them. The etiquette of all golfers there was such that the round was over in seemingly no time at all, even having stopped to smell the flowers and photograph many of the endless stunning vistas. I played St George’s Hill a little while ago but have held back on writing a review. I trust my delay in writing has tempered my rose-tinted view of the course. However, it is difficult to not be overly effusive about this wonderful track. I must say this is easily my preferred inland course in England although Walton Heath is the only higher-ranked course I have played. It now assumes the place of The Addington as my favourite inland English course. Given that I preferred St George’s Hill to Walton Heath (a course ranked in the World top100) this Surrey beauty must merit a 6 ball rating.
Date: September 06, 2012