- +44 (0) 1344 621681
¼ mile S of Sunningdale
Contact in advance - Not Fri, Sat, Sun or public hols
The Old course at Sunningdale is one of the British Isles’ most aesthetically pleasing inland courses. Arguably, it was the first truly great golf course to be built on the magical Surrey/Berkshire sand-belt. The land was (and still is) leased from the freeholder, St John’s College, Cambridge. It is a Willie Park Junior masterpiece and opened for play in 1901, becoming known as the Old after the opening of the New Course in 1923.
Lined with pine, birch and oak trees, it is a magnificent place to play golf. The emblem of the club is the oak tree, no doubt modelled on the huge specimen tree standing majestically beside the 18th green. It’s incredible to believe that originally the golf course was laid out on barren, open land. Harry Colt was a big influence at Sunningdale; he was Secretary and Captain in the club’s early years and redesigned the Old course, giving it a more intimate and enclosed feel.
|The Old course at Sunningdale has seen many great rounds of golf, but these three rank amongst the very best:
1. 1926 - the perfect 66 by Bobby Jones in Open Qualifying.
2. 1986 - a remarkable 62 by Nick Faldo in the European Open.
3. 2004 - an incredible eagle, albatross start by Karen Stupples in the Women's British Open.
In 1926, during qualification for the British Open, amateur Bobby Jones played the Old Course perfectly, scoring 66, made up of all threes and fours (taking 33 putts). This type of scoring was unheard of in those days. Bernard Darwin brilliantly summed up Jones’ round as “incredible and in decent”. “Few joys in this world are unalloyed”, wrote Darwin in Golf Between Two Wars, “and though Bobby was naturally and humanly pleased with that 66 he was a trifle worried because he had 'reached the peak' rather too soon before going to St. Anne's.” Jones went on to Royal Lytham & St Annes and won the 1926 Open by two strokes, beating fellow American Al Watrous.
If you have already played the Old course, you will surely remember the elevated 10th tee, a fabulous driving hole and one of our all-time favourite holes. By the time you have putted out on the 10th, you will be ready for refreshments at the excellent halfway hut that sits welcomingly behind the green. What sheer delight! The 5th, a lovely par four, is beautifully described in The 500 World’s Greatest Golf Holes: “From an elevated tee, the fifth is clearly defined. The fairway is bordered by heather, golden grass and dark green forest. There are two fairway bunkers in the right half of the fairway; a small pond and four sentinel bunkers protect the green. Success calls for two pure shots…” The 15th is also featured in the same book; it’s a superb par three, measuring 226 yards.
Many people regard Sunningdale as the perfect golfing venue. The Old and New courses taken together are probably the finest pair of golf courses anywhere. On a sunny autumn day, walking on that perfect heathland turf, surely there is nowhere better to play golf with a few friends. “If we have not been too frequently ‘up to our necks’ in untrodden heather—nay, even if we have—we ought to have enjoyed ourselves immensely,” as Darwin said in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles.
Sunningdale is what everyone seems to say it is. The Old Course is definitely better than the new but the new is absolutely worth playing. Having played ten of the heathland courses Sunningdale clearly came out on top and that's against some stiff competition. Swinley Forest was great but Sunningdale was better. We had a great day there and sitting on the terrace afterwards we wished we could come back and do it again and we probably will. No need to run though the holes. There were many that we so good. No favourites. The 18th was a tough finish. Really looks much easier than it is. Played it twice and under clubbbed both times. There's my tip take at least on extra club and two probably won't do you any harm.
Sunningdale immediately became one of my favorite courses. Every hole could be a picture on the wall… just lovely to look at and lovely to play. There is something so delightful about playing a course that is clearly a great test of skill, but also very fair. Nothing contrived or penal, just straight golf. Its one of those courses upon reflection where you decide you wouldn’t change a single thing.
We went for the amazing deal where you play the Old and New Courses on the same day. After having breakfast in the presence of Ashes Cricketers and having a putt on the practice green, we teed off on the Old in lashing rain and wind like excitable teenagers.
The first looks like a gettable par 5 but the conditions and the fact that we were playing such a prestigious course seemed to create some nervous golf. But the real surprise came when we took our first putts. There were two three putts from 4 feet and the green was like glass! Maybe it was just an anomaly.
The rain abated and the sun came out but when we got to the second green, all bar one of us three putted. That was when it dawned on us that all of the greens were going to be quick. The greens were perfectly pure but after having played Ferndown, we hadn't prepared ourselves for such slick greens in late September which is a testament to the course staff.
Needless to say that Sunningdale Old was very special and lived up to the hype. Standout holes were the picturesque 5th hole with water before the green, the driveable par 4 9th, the long 10th from a brilliant elevated tee, hearing your ball thud onto the fairway and the 18th which meanders back up to the clubhouse and the famous oak tree.
A cracking morning was had and a nice lunch devoured before tackling the longer, brawnier New in the afternoon.
I played the two courses at Sunningdale together like many others, and there surely cannot be a better 36 hole day in golf!
The whole place lives up to its reputation in being an immaculately manicured example of heathland golf - with every hole being postcard perfect. The course has everything - reachable par 5’s, testing long par 3’s, driveable par 4’s…it offers so much. It’s one of those golf courses where the land that ties the holes together is also perfect, and the views when looking back down the hole from the green are often the best on the hole.
A day at Sunningdale is over before you know it…I need to go back and play each one as just 18 in a day to really appreciate each course - and you might feel the same. The 36-hole day is a well polished commercial product, and this perhaps takes the shine off the more raw “old school” experiences like Swinley. That’s not to say one is better than the other - just different.
Absolutely lives up to the billing - the course is absolutely immaculate and everything you could ask for from a heathland course. Challenging but fair, both courses provide tests and opportunities for golfers of all levels. Despite the sometimes stuffy reputation of clubs like this, the staff are very friendly and welcoming to guests. If you do get the chance to play, do not pass it up.
What can you say that has not already been said about this place. Spectacular setting, very classy place, loads of history and warm welcome. A true bucket list venue for any golfer. The course despite recent top dressing was in great shape and the greens were lovely to putt on, and with a very short walk from green to tee you no sooner finish one great hole ad your onto the next "wow" moment.
Hard to call out my favourite holes but would say the 2nd, 4th, 10th and 12th have lingered longer in the memory bank.
My only disappointing experience of the day was we had to play off the forward guest tees (yellow) and I personally found the course a little short.
I simply cannot imagine a golf course being better kept or more beautiful. Having played other major courses in the UK this is the best in my opinion, there simply is not a boring hole or one that doesn't give you a "wow" moment on the tee.
Its a stern but fair test - those amateurs that are really struggling will find the going tough, as the heather can be unforgiving, but the flip side is that if you are playing relatively well and keeping the ball in play, the course is not overly long and it is possible to navigate to a decent score.
The greens are immaculate - very quick but very true, and the rest of the course, like many other classic courses in the area, benefits hugely from the sand-based heathland in that Surrey / Berkshire "golf heaven" stretch!
Cannot recommend enough.
Simply the best course I have ever played. It surpasses Royal Birkdale and Royal St George’s. I found I was saying ‘wow’ on pretty much every hole. The 10th is probably the nicest golf hole I have ever seen.
The nicest clubhouse I have visited to date. If you get the chance - go play this awesome course.
Hi James, assume you played one Sunningdale course, wrote the review during lunch, then went back out & played the other. If you had to choose between them?
I preferred the Old to the New - much better course. My review on the New Course was actually for the Old, but the site doesn’t allow me to edit or delete my review.
Wonderful course, combined with the New this is the best day out in golf. Personally, my preference leans towards the New, with its wide views across the heathland encouraging you to open your shoulders off the tee.
The Old is nevertheless a fantastic golf course and deserving the accolades and 6 ball reviews. The 1st is short for a par 5, and I was able to drive the green on the short par 4 9th. There are some long tough holes too, but I like how this course offers you some birdie chances, deftly mixing length and trickiness and difficulty to provide a balanced challenge over 18 holes.
No doubt, no question deservedly a rating of 6 as it is just pure perfection. Golf does not get better than this. Enjoyed an amazing day at Sunningdale today playing both the New and Old but the Old really will stay with me forever and is certainly the best looking inland course I have played so far. Again we had the best of weather conditions and boy did this course show itself off. I lost count of the photos and videos taken as every turn presented another amazing view and hole that enticed you on. Condition, ten out of ten, course layout is fantastic, I cannot speak highly enough of this course. Any chance you get to play it do so.