Walton on the Hill,
- +44 (0) 1737 812380
2 miles N of M25 J8, 15 miles S of London
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The New course at Walton Heath Golf Club was designed by Herbert Fowler and opened for play in 1907 as a nine-hole layout. Fowler extended it to 18 holes in 1913.
Both courses (Old and New) are intertwined and have a very similar look and feel. The Old is tougher and a marginally better test, although the New is a demanding course with memorable holes of great variety; taking the two courses together can only be described as a real treat.
After a gentle start (the first two holes being pleasant, but straightforward), the New course really starts to show its mettle. The heather comes into play and the holes progressively become more challenging. There are six par fours measuring over 400 yards in length; the stroke index 1 is a massive 469 yards from the white tees.
It would be remiss not to mention James Braid when writing about Walton Heath. Braid loved the Heath; he was the club professional from 1904 to 1950. For much of his life, he lived at Walton on the Hill, close to his beloved golf courses. He proudly called his house Earlsferry after his birthplace in the Kingdom of Fife.
Bernard Darwin wrote the Biography of James Braid and nobody was better qualified to perform this task. After all, Darwin knew him for more than 50 years. In the early 20th century, Walton Heath had a decidedly political atmosphere. Lord Riddle was an authority at Walton Heath and probably introduced Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and Arthur Balfour to the Heath. In Braid’s Biography, Darwin refers to a speech made by Sir Fredrick Hamilton at Braid’s 80th birthday celebration. Hamilton, quoting Winston Churchill, is said to have declared that golf “seemed a good game for conversation”. Braid and Hamilton regarded Churchill as the inventor of “Greensomes”. The actual inventor of greensomes seems a mystery as Darwin commented: “I may add that whoever else did invent it, his name, like that of the last Laird of Ravenswood, is ‘lost for evermo’.”
Walton Heath Golf Club has hosted a number of important tournaments down the years, including the European Open and British Masters, but perhaps the most notable of all was the 1981 Ryder Cup, which was staged over a 7,067-yard composite course. If you’d like to play the 1981 Ryder Cup layout, you’ll need to tee it up on both the Old and New courses.
On my last two trips to Walton Heath in the past two years, I only played the Old course as the first trip was with three players from the USA who had not played the Old while the more recent visit was with a member who wanted to discuss the Old course as we played. I played the New course too many years ago to give it a proper review based on the current condition of the course which has had the back nine considerably lengthened.
On my next visit to Walton Heath I intend to play both again.
In my notes when I played it I noted the New as being one of the most fun golf courses I have ever played. At the time, it was not nearly as difficult as the Old course. There are a few holes on the New that would fit in well with the Old. Indeed, there are times on both courses that you have to pay attention to the next tee or you might find yourself playing the other course. However, with the added length to the New course primarily on the back nine, perhaps I will think it to be less “fun” and instead find it more interesting.
There is a similarity to both courses, beginning with the course being distant from the clubhouse, neither close to the clubhouse at the beginning nor the end of the round, crossing a road to access the course, similar raised bunkering, tall grass and thick heather that leads often to a dropped shot, and basically flat terrain. It is also of similar length due to having only three par 3’s. Balls finding the fairway can run quite a way reducing the length of the course. Of course, on both courses one can hear the road noise from the M-25.
Where the New differs from the Old is there are a large number of cross-bunkers on the New. The greens on the Old are more undulating and interesting than the ones on the New, although both are well-conditioned. Another difference is the better nine on the Old is the front while for the New it is the back nine. The Old has many more “better” and memorable holes than the New simply because the greens are better as well as the green surrounds. I thought some of the greens on the New course to be overly large for being so flat.
The New course is certainly good enough to put Walton Heath into the conversation for the best golf club in the British Isles that have two courses joining Sunningdale, Saunton, The Berkshire, and Royal Portrush. I have excluded resort courses as they are not “clubs.” I would put Walton Heath behind Sunningdale.
It is definitely a golf course worth playing. It is not as penal as Walton Heath Old, where the front nine and several holes on the back nine are very difficult. I found the New course at the time I played it to be more beautiful than the Old course with more heather, although not as beautiful as Swinley Forest, the courses at Sunningdale, or The Berkshire.
Walton Heath New now plays at 7199 par 72, sss 75 and 6648 sss 72. It has been lengthened about 200-250 yards from both tees from when I played it. It has also likely been stretched as far as it can go. When I played the New, it was the second round of the day and we played in a reasonable wind but with high gusts. Therefore, we played what is today would be considered the “club” tees at 6278 yards. Today I would play either the championship or medal tees on a relatively calm day.
In my notes and comparing them to the reviews previously posted, I agree with much of what was written. I like the first hole because it is easy as a short par 4 of 286 yards, easily driveable for average players with a wide fairway and access to the green as there is a wide opening between the flanking bunkers. I noted how overly large and flat the green is for a hole so short.
The second hole is a shorter par 3 of about 140 yards with four surrounding bunkers and a back to front slope of the green. I liked the hole even though I manage to double bogey it after a bad lie against the back lip of a bunker. This green is too large for the length of the hole.
The first cross-bunker is at the third hole, a longer par 4 of 425/419 to a long, skinny green. The greenside bunker on the right front is a “collecting” bunker that is steeply sloped to the sand and also deep. The green is flat.
Four is another short par 4 of 343/288. When I played it, the length was only 250 yards. I want to play this hole again as I do not know if the added length changed the character of the hole as I thought it to be one of the lesser holes on the course. It has two bunkers short of the green and a really interesting raised, rough grass bunker to the left of the green. The green is flat and odd-shaped.
Five is a long par 4 dogleg right of 468/461 that I thought to be one of the best holes on the golf course. This hole features a centerline, fairly deep bunker that did not come into play for my length. The green is narrow and has more undulations than previous holes. I made a note of trees on both sides that can block a line to the green if one misses the fairway by more than ten yards. It is rated the hardest hole on the course.
Six is a mid-length par 3 of 183/171 where there is a rise on the right side of the green but otherwise uninteresting.
Seven is a short par 4 slight dogleg right with another cross-bunker, a few trees down the left, a tree nearer the slightly raised green, and ditch to the right. It’s an okay hole perhaps more interesting for the longer hitters who might reach the cross-bunker.
Eight is a mid-length par 5 that goes slightly left. I thought it to be a fun hole to play featuring grass cross bunkers and another bunker short of the green in the fairway.
Nine is a fine hole even though it plays to the edge of the property closest to the M-25. It has a flattish green and is relatively visually uninteresting.
For me the best part of Walton Heath New is the back nine. I will not comment much on the holes as many of them have been considerably lengthened from the tees I played (even if the tees I played are still there).
I thought ten, the final par 3, had the best bunkering fronting the hole which I hope they have not changed. It is the final par 3 and the best on the course.
Of the remaining holes my favorites were the fourteenth and sixteenth. But with the new yardages that could change the next time I play Walton Heath New.
I also believe that the additional yardage has likely strengthened the case for Walton Heath being the second- best club in the British Isles with two courses (non-resort). While playing both courses the same day might leave one exhausted and less able to distinguish the courses, they are both very much worth playing. If for reason, one showed up expected to play the Old only to find it closed, then playing the New is a very fine substitute. I do think Walton Heath New could rise in the rankings if the surfaces of the greens were more interesting as well as a few more bunkers added on the course.
Whilst the Old is arguably the better course, I would rather play the New. It is shorter and more fun, and a bit prettier in my opinion. The new is still fantastic and well deserving of its place in the UK Top 100.
There are lots of good or really good holes on this course, and it is consistent throughout which I love (unlike the Old where the 1st hole is by far the worst on the course). I would argue there isn't a weak hole, and that it's best holes are 1, 5, 7, 8, 11, 14, 16, 17 and 18.
One thing I don't like is how the 18th is near identical to 18 on the Old. The being said it is a fantastic heathland course that shouldn't be missed. 36 at Walton Heath is a great day.
Both the courses at Walton heath polarise opinion. The two intertwined courses on top of the Heath provide a golfing stadium that is unlike anything else. Very few of the holes actually have any 'definition' which means that a lot of the holes can feel similar. There is no loop. And very few trees - making it feel very links like. Oh - and its usually very windy on the heath.
The course begins with a couple of easy-ish holes. And then it gets brutally hard as you head into the course with long par fours that are always either into the wind or in cross winds. At roughly the halfway stage you turn back towards the clubhouse and the terrain and wind starts to work in your favour. If you've held your round together you can start to score well as the holes are invariably long, straight and downwind. Taken in its entirety, the course is a proper test that tests you mentally as well as technically.
I feel like you have to be a good golfer to properly appreciate both courses at Walton Heath. They are always both in brilliant condition.The fairways are bouncy and the greens are huge and undulating (again - very links like in their design). The 'old school' nature of the clubhouse and facilities are a golf nerds dream. There's lots of Ryder Cup and James Braid memorabilia on display throughout the clubhouse.
However, if you do not drive the ball straight - then you will have major problems with the infamous bracken. More often that not - there is no recovery shot and you can lose balls that run one yard off the fairway. Its easy to get beaten up by the New course if you are not on top of your game or haven't played for a few weeks. Playing here is a real treat and a gold enthusiasts dream - but its not for everybody.
I played this course as part of a society that visits every year. The course was fantastic. I find it hard to split the two courses apart and thoroughly enjoyed both rounds. I have therefore rated them the same at 5*. I think its UK&I ranking is fair and replicates a stern test of golf, particularly when the wind blows. If pushed, I would say the Old just pips it. The buffet lunch is brilliant. Make time to play both courses on your visit. You will not be dissapointed.
I am yet to play the Old course at Walton Heath so I'm not too sure how it compares to the New. I have played the new course twice now and personally I thought it was great. The course was in super condition, fast greens, looks great, lots of heather, lovely bunkers and the club is very old fashioned, traditional and full of history. I would love to come back again as I really enjoyed my visit here last time, some very interesting holes and a golf course I will never forget.
Walton Heath New was a thoroughly enjoyable course that featured a tremendous amount of variety in the demands of each hole. While the course seemed less challenging than the Old this may be an illusion since the challenges are placed at various points over the course instead of the brutal test of the front 9 that is the Old. It's true that due to the unusual summer heat that the course was not as picturesque as in the past. Still that meant that the fairways were hard and fast which gave you more distance and often rolls into the rough, which was not as penal due to the lack of rain. Overall an excellent test of golf that is a fine compliment to the Old course and creates a wonderful day of golf if you play both. Great staff and very welcoming to this visitor.
I played the New course under clear, but windy and fast conditions in April 2018. This course has a nice blend of shorter and lengthy par fours, and windy conditions (as well as gorse and perhaps heather, which were fairly tame in April) put some real teeth into the longer, more challenging holes. Good shots are well-rewarded, but a "swing away" approach might result in too many trips to the gorse to allow decent scoring. The greens were in excellent condition - and fast - but not unreasonably so. All things considered, the New course offers a "big boy" golf experience which shouldn't be missed. (I recall many of the same experiences from the Old course at Walton Heath several years ago.) It is not a coincidence that Walton Heath has hosted many significant championships during its history.
Having played both courses dozens of times in the last five years, I’m the weirdo that has more fun on the New. Why? The Old is a fantastic course but the new wins my vote due to it’s routing. I find it more fun and quirky where I often get tired of the incessant beating one takes on the Old’s front nine, typically mercilessly into the wind. The new course keeps me awake with its direction changes, and it has my favorite bunker anywhere, front left on 10. It’s also a wonderful course for match play, the format I typically play - the middle stretch of long par fours... -superb! While most people hit the Heath for the Old, I’d recommend making it a day and play both; similar difficulties but very different experiences.
This is heathland terrain in the purest sense. At Walton Heath, there’s a vastness to the ground that both courses cover. It’s an immense wide open space. On some parts of the course you must be able to see about twelve other holes in all directions. Added to this, the fairways here run firm and fast, they had a lovely scorched colour when I played here in July and were playing very links-like. The heather topped bunkers are also excellent, very well positioned so that they enter your thought process for practically every shot. The greens too are smooth, fair and fast.
I’ve only played the New Course so I can’t compare it to the Old, but the New is far from easy. It's a purist’s course, one for the shot makers and you have to be on top of your game and put the ball in the right positions to score well. My driving was a little crooked to say the least and I found the heather to be tortuous, there’s masses of it to suck up those wayward shots. In the depth of Summer, it’s very thick and provides a severe punishment.
One of the negatives for me was that there's no framing of the course, in other words, it's a large expanse of very flat land and there's no scenery to take your eye other than the sparse heathland landscape that lies in front of you. It's really quite a desolate location, something I thought I would really enjoy, but looking back on my round there are relatively few holes I can fully recall.
It’s the subtleties at Walton Heath that people will fall in love with, the shots that the course demands you to play and the gentle undulations in the greens that keep you guessing. My taste for golf is maybe a little too unrefined for Walton Heath - I still like a bit of eye candy.
Golf at Walton Heath is as close to seaside links that you’ll get whilst playing inland, particularly surprising given its proximity to London, but seaside links offers all of the same positive features whilst providing that aroma of salty sea air, the sound of seagulls, dune landscapes and sea views.
Overall, Walton Heath New is a course that’s worth playing, but at £150 for the standard green fee, it’s a price based upon its history, reputation and the stern test you'll receive rather than a course that's going to captivate you with its beauty.
Is this the best golf club in the South East ?
If it is not, it must be a very, very close race with Sunningdale. We played both courses at Walton Heath in what must be very close to their best condition, two days after the U.S. Open Qualifying in June and they played magnificently, being testing but not at all unfair.
As a visitor to this site you may use ranking as a basis for picking which courses to play. In that case my view is that you risk making a serious mistake of omission if you decide to skip the New Course at Walton Heath.
Having played both courses with the New in the morning and the Old after lunch, I cannot see the disparity in ranking (78th and 28th respectively) to be justified and the recommendation must be the same as for Sunningdale: make a whole day out of it and play both courses.
Some other reviewers have commented that the first two holes are too easy. Personally, I much prefer the easier start on the New Course: driveable par-4 followed by short par-3 to the more difficult one on the Old Course: long par 3 followed by long par 4. I know that I have Harry Colt on my side of that argument...at least in general.
Finally, when the club and its members manage to use influence and financial resources to sort out the crossing of the very busy road in the beginning and persuade those who need persuading that resurfacing the M25 with a quieter surface is in the general interest, the non-golfing part of the experience will improve significantly.