Review for Walton Heath (Old)

Reviewer Score:


Set on a sandy site with lots of heather and deep bunkers, the Old course at Walton Heath reminded me of Ganton in being as close as possible to a links playing experience with not actually being on the coast. Herbert Fowler wasn’t messing around after his cricket career, when he spent two years on horseback scouting the site for some great holes.

It’s another example of a brilliant heathland club, with two courses and a great clubhouse. The putting green (with a full 18 hole routing!) is outstanding, and the pro shop is on a par with Tara Iti in my opinion for being the best stocked.

The opener is controversial, and although a quirky start, the par 3 doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the course for me, set on a different part of the property and having no real interest to it. Having said that, when you cross the road the course reveals itself with great views of both courses as the holes intertwine.

It’s obvious from this point onwards that you are playing a historic course with lots of subtle strategy. A favourite hole early on is the strong par 4 5th, with a heather lined centre bunker to be avoided at all costs.

The greens are great- reminiscent of Royal Ashdown Forest in often sloping away from the player to add a bit of extra challenge. I loved the run of holes 11-14, a slightly downhill well bunkered par 3, followed by a dog leg right par 4, and two back to back par 5s that are very different in character. The closing stretch is also great, with the bunkering on 16 being particularly impressive.

It’s a sign of the strength of the course that when James Braid become club professional here, he felt that there weren’t any changes required to Fowlers original layout.

Date: December 01, 2020

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