Wentworth (West) - Surrey - England

The Wentworth Club,
Virginia Water,
Surrey,
GU25 4LS,
England


  • +44 (0) 1344 842201


Wentworth Golf Club played host to the 1953 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Great Britain. Team Captains were Lloyd Mangrum (US) and Henry Cotton (GB). This was one of the most fiercely contested competitions in Ryder Cup history and the Americans had to wait until the closing stages of the singles matches before gaining a single point victory. Peter Alliss took a six at the final hole to lose 1-up to Jim Turnesa and Bernard Hunt missed a putt on the 18th green to halve with Dave Douglas. U.S. Captain Lloyd Mangrum said he would “never, never captain an American team again because of the 9,000 deaths I suffered in the last hour”. USA 6 ½ - GB 5 ½. The Ryder Cup was played at Pinehurst in 1951 and at Thunderbird in 1955.

The West course at the Wentworth Club is the most famous of the Surrey heath and heather courses. The club is also the most televised in Britain, once hosting three professional tournaments every year (World Matchplay, PGA and the Seniors Masters), but now only the PGA Championship is staged annually at Wentworth. The West course was also the venue for the fiercely contested 1953 Ryder Cup, resulting in a single point American victory 6½ 5½.

It must have been an absolute delight for Harry Colt when he was asked to design the West course, which opened for play in 1926. After all, he was already familiar with this landscape, having designed the East Course (founded two years earlier).

The West is a relative youngster in the scheme of things. Many of Surrey’s famous sand-belt courses were established around the turn of the 19th century. Wentworth was also one of the first golf course developments to feature fairway-side houses, quite a number of which are owned by well-known celebrities. It’s a sort of up-market 1920s golf and country club complex.

Bernard Darwin refers to the West Course as the Tiger Course in his book, Golf Between Two Wars. He writes: “The course is intended to test that rampacious animal to the full. It is a little hard to assign the Wentworth country as a whole to any precise class. There is heather and there are trees and yet it is not quite of the same nature as its near neighbour, Sunningdale. It is set in park-like surroundings, and yet it is certainly not what is usually called a park course. It is a cross between the two, although the Tiger Course has about it least of the park and most of the heathery character”.

At the start of the Second World War, the Army requisitioned the clubhouse and labyrinths of underground bunkers were built. Deep below the famous clubhouse lies a secret wartime HQ. It was the Second World War that gave rise to the other name for the West Course – “Burma Road”. The course was allowed to grow wild because it was feared that enemy aircraft might land on the fairways. Towards the end of the war, German prisoners were brought in from a nearby internment camp to clear the course. One of the officers overseeing the clearance operation reputedly said: “Let this be their Burma Road”.

There are many memorable holes on the West course. The 2nd is a charming, exacting short 155-yard par three; a huge sentry oak stands between two bunkers guarding the right-hand side of the plateau green, the tee is level with the green, but the tee shot must carry across a valley to find the putting surface, don’t be short. Next, we come to the 3rd, a brutal, uprising 448-yard par four; avoid the bunkers on the right-hand side of the fairway, positioned 250 yards from the tee. Otherwise any chance of reaching the green in two has gone. A crisp accurate long iron or a fairway wood will reach the huge, 37-yard deep, three-tiered green that is protected by a bunker to the left and a bunker to the right; three-putting is commonplace. The 13th is yet another of the West’s long par fours (par five for the ladies). The hole sweeps around to the left, the green is invisible from the tee; the obvious line for the tee shot is down the right-hand side of the fairway, but here lies a cleverly located bunker. A good drive down the right of the fairway will leave a tough approach to a subtly contoured green that is protected by two bunkers to the left and two to the right. A par here will definitely feel as good as a birdie.

The last hole we'll mention is the famous bunkerless 17th. It’s a huge 566-yard par five that seemingly sweeps infinitely to the left – from the narrow tee there are tall trees on both sides, creating a tunnelling effect. A footpath dissects the hole some 200 yards away. The ball must be struck down the right-hand side of the fairway – anything left will be blocked out by trees or, worse still, out-of-bounds. Only the longest hitters should take the strategic line down the left side of the fairway, a solid 300-yard swish will make it to the corner of the dogleg. The approach shot is played blindly over a rise, aim for the large oak in the distance, but be aware that everything slopes onto the green and then everything seemingly slithers off again.


"Feel the heritage, feel the glamour, feel special in strangely familiar surroundings."

When you step onto the first tee of the West course, you will feel an overwhelming sense of familiarity. It is definitely a place most people would be more than happy to call home and play the monthly medal here for the rest of their lives. The holes weave their way through sprinklings of heather and across gently undulating terrain with mature trees lining each and every fairway. This is a truly classy golf course and it's a tough one too, especially after Ernie Els gave the West a new set of teeth. It now measures more than 7,300 yards from the tips and with many new bunkers and some new tiger tees, the Burma Road is now a serious 21st century challenge.

The West course closed to visitors for twelve months from 1st June 2009 for an extensive £6.5m renovation programme. Ernie Els was in charge of the changes which included 18 new USGA specification greens, new bunkers and a new canal-like stream, which protects the green on the famous closing hole. The new-look Burma Road received mainly positive comments from the pros at the 2010 BMW PGA Championship, but Paul Casey argued that the changes had stripped the West course of its character. Click here for the 2010 press release – “All Change On The West”.

The West came in for further criticism during the 2011 BMW PGA Championship. Ian Poulter joined forces with Paul Casey stating, “I don't like this golf course. Period. End of story.” Poulter went on to say, “Some of the fun of the last few holes has been taken away.” Wentworth’s former owner, Richard Caring, stated after the 2010 event that he had not quite got it right first time. Caring admitted, “the 18th was a dream I had, I wanted to give the spectators a bit of excitement, a bit of theatre. We might have gone slightly too far because it’s proven to be quite difficult.”

Ernie Els was against the changes to the 18th, and the green was lowered for the 2011 event with the depth of the putting surface extended to invite second shots. However, the 18th still proved to be too difficult for most pros and the vast majority opted to play the home hole as a three-shotter.

The 2011 PGA Championship took its toll on most of the field but the play-off was all set to be a thrilling affair featuring World No.1 Lee Westwood and World No.2 Luke Donald pitching their wits in a sudden death head-to-head on the 18th. Neither player opted to go for the green in two and both players had similar pitches into the green. Donald judged his pitch and spin to perfection but Westwood’s pitch spun off the green into the new canal. The play-off turned into a flop rather than a thriller. Donald not only claimed the PGA Championship title but also knocked Westwood off the World Number One spot in the process.

The West course closed immediately after the 2016 PGA Championship for yet another major redevelopment. Ernie Els Design, in conjunction with European Golf Design, were commissioned to handle the renovations, which includes the redesign of five greens, the installation of sub-air systems on every green (the first of its kind in England) and a reduction in the number of bunkers. The project completed prior to the 2017 PGA Championship.

Despite numerous multi-million pound renovations over the last decade, the West course has continually fallen from favour in the golf course rankings. Will the latest iteration arrest the decline? The rise and fall of the troubled Burma Road

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Reviews for Wentworth (West)

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Description: The West course at the Wentworth Club is Surrey's most famous golf course. It closed for its latest makeover in 2017 and reopened prior to the 2018 BMW PGA Championship. Rating: 7.2 out of 10 Reviews: 65
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Scott Miles

Was privileged to get an invite to play the West Course which could simply not be turned down. With the course in full preparation for the PGA Championship in a months time, it really was a joy to play the course as it was ramping up for the event.

Having played a fair few top 100 courses in the UK I would comfortably say Wentworth’s Greens are the best that I have come across. Greens run true, quick and I mean quick and very receptive to approach shots.

In terms of the course layout I can agree a few get lost in the memory bank, however the variety of holes do not lack. My personal favourites were around the turn with 8, 10 and 11.

The West Course is one of the UK’s inland gems that if you are ever fortunate to get a chance to play you must take.

July 24, 2022
9 / 10
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Rob Gibson

Wentworth West gets a bad rap from so many visitors, regularly hear people say the other 2 courses are better. Whilst I haven’t played the other 2, they’d want to be pretty special to beat the West Course.

Got to play it with a German friend in June 2022, and it was in typically sublime condition. The best greens I’ve putted on in England, but so they should be with the underground heating system. They rolled true at about 11 on the stimp, and all of a sudden I learned how to putt again!

As for the course, everyone probably knows all the holes so I need not say much more, although I believe from my experience watching on TV, they’ve cleared a lot of bushland and trees around 9/10 - I don’t believe you used to be able to see the railway line, now it’s extremely prominent, and also seems likely more heather will grow. So that was a neat touch!

It doesn’t have a heap of memorable memorable holes Wentworth, it’s just a championship test in excellent condition. 8, 9, 10, 15, 17 & 18 are my personal favourites.

Also, it doesn’t factor into my review, but the clubhouse is just other worldly. A1. What a world it must be to be a member there!

July 07, 2022
8 / 10
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HDM
August 10, 2022

Nice review Rob. I don’t know who says either of the other two very good courses are better than the West but this is undoubtedly the top jewel out of the three by a good margin. Pretty much every shot on this course needs careful selection and it rewards well executed shots into the right places. The green complexes are something else again and hard to find the type of challenge they give on many other top tracks in the U.K. Golfing heaven for those who enjoy being tested on a very nice looking inland course kept in superb condition.

Josh

It’s hard to talk about Wentworth Golf Club without mentioning the first class experience, the exclusivity or lastly the history that it holds. Because of its longstanding affiliation with the European tour, it’s relatively overlooked that the West course held a Ryder cup in 1953. Nowadays it’s more commonly known for the European Tour’s flagship event held annually on the hallowed estate.

Five years ago I would have only dreamed of playing Wentworth and it was only by a stroke of luck I landed myself an invite here. A review I left for a course on this website caught the attention of a member who very kindly got in touch to see if he could help me on my journey of completing the top 100. A few long months later that day came around and I was so pleased to be able to surprise dad and get him on too. It was finally time to tick off course number 45!

The course has an incredible amount to live up to. Even from the drive up the hill to the esteemed country club you can tell that it’s a phenomenal place. No stone has been left unturned for the top 1% from valet parking, multiple locker rooms, fine dining and complimentary use of the practice areas you’re almost made to feel like one of them for the day.

After collecting our tees and scorecards we made our way to probably one of the most iconic first tee’s in England. Reduced to a par 5 for us mere mortals, the first is a well needed generous start. Although there has been previous work to dampen the contours the course had, the greens are still very undulating and without 100% concentration you can look like a fool very quickly. The greens were some of the best I’ve played on, which comes as no surprise being 1 of 2 courses that benefit from a sub air system in England.

You quickly realize how good the pros are when you play a course like this. The subtle undulations aren’t shown on TV and rarely you see players short side themself. Playing shots as well as nearly anyone could would still find me rolling past the hole by 30ft which put such an premium on being on the correct side of the pin.

On reflection a month or so after our round, I’m still undecided on if I think the high ranking of 20th is justified. Part of me thinks that due to the history, exclusivity and it being a tour venue may have subconsciously played a part in the decision of the panelists. No one can argue about the condition, you won’t get any better in England and whilst the layout is good, I feel there are courses ranked lower that would give you the ‘wow’ when you step on the tee more so than here. But over 18 holes I’d feel confident in saying that it’s a very consistently strong layout which benefits from acres and acres of land. That feeling of oasis and privacy here is not something you get at a lot of courses and that can’t be overlooked. The target market here is the 1% and their lucky guests and privacy is something that would be high on their expectations for Wentworth. At the end of the day it’s an impossible job for the panelists to decide on. It’s all subjective and very personal to us as individuals but I tried thinking to myself If they had this as a £150 green fee, would it still be as highly ranked?

Playing to a 8 handicap every now and again I managed to shoot a fairly predictable 90 with 10 shots dropped on the last 4 holes alone. At most courses I’ve played, if I can bomb a drive off the white tees I’m left with something fairly insignificant in. However, some holes still having to hit long irons in and then to stick the green for any chance of saving par was certainly an experience I won’t be forgetting anytime soon!

Wentworth West was the 45th top 100 course and 120th golf course I've played at 24 years old. Come and follow me on my adventure! https://www.instagram.com/ginger.golf/?hl=en-gb

June 14, 2022
8 / 10
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B.S.

The West Course at Wentworth is considered one of the best conditioned courses in the isles. USGA sand, manicured fairways and sub air systems helping the green speed exceed 12 all add to this reputation. While its condition is faultless, the course itself is also superb. No issues with length, as at its longest it stretches over a behemoth 7000 yards. Strategy does matter here and testament to that there are certainly at least seven non par 3's where driver is not the optimal club to pull out of the bag. It's very important to miss in the right spot due to the speed of the greens and slopes. Overall, it does also have a reputation of hosting the BMW Championship and has hosted the World Golf Matchplay in the past. This historical importance makes it all the more thrilling to play - perfection

June 11, 2022
10 / 10
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jason

Played it in November so not a great time of year to play condition wise for most courses.... but it was still outstanding. Fantastic layout with a huge variety for a woodland course, not too tight but tight enough to make very challenging and a few long par 4's keep you on you're toes. The 8th hole has made it into my favourite holes in golf. The greens were sanded so not fast at all, which I think made my experience better because I recall playing it a few years ago and got beaten up by the greens. Club house and practice facilities are as good as you will get. A bucket list course in my opinion.

November 27, 2021
9 / 10
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Javier Pintos

Once the trip to Wales was confirmed this one appeared in the horizon but some weeks before the round I found out that maintenance was being done on greens and the course would just open the day before my visit. Decision was to be made on site if to play this one or East and once I arrived after seeing the greens I just believe they were not that bad and it was worth to play the big one.

I have read many complains and critics to Ernie’s changed but as I have not played it before there is no point for me in complaining because I didn’t see it other than on TV and what is more real is that what I saw and played is just terrific!

Day started with a long drive from Celtic Manor and arrived with enough time for a coffee at the bar, a walk inside the Club House, watching the putter from my hero Angel Cabrera’s win in 2005 and only then off for a quick and short range session before the round. My host is a 60yrs old +1 hcp who can still play and it was a great round off the white tees: 7000yds, soft fairways with little roll, a little bit windy and demanding, very demanding!!!

As many Colt courses it makes you feel afraid off the tee showing all types of danger but when you get to landing areas you realize the space is quite bigger than what the tee boxes show.

Greens are sloped and big, even with sand quite fast and challenging and when you see the winning score from last month you realize how damn good these Tour Pros are. It is not only yards off the tee they have, or how in the center they hit the irons and how good they are around the greens. I hit 11 GIR and only once (with the putter short on 11th) I was able to scramble. That tough it is in the surroundings of the greens.

There is no point in describing a course most of us are able to see on TV every year but just how good the experience of being at the Club is, how perfect everything bends Club House, Staff, ProShop, Bar, Members, Range, views, Charm … just one of those very special experiences! And a great golf course as well.

I really hope to be back, play it in full throttle and experience both East and Edimburgh which I was told are as good. Not many of us are lucky enough to get these invites, but if it appears in your email go do it, it is worth every single second.

October 27, 2021
8 / 10
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Alex Frolish

I have always felt an affinity toward Wentworth as it provides some of my earliest memories of watching golf on TV as a child. It is a course I felt I could have described holes 1 through 18 without ever having visited and there aren’t many courses in the world that I would be able to do that with. When the opportunity came to play the course in August 2021 for the first time, I obviously jumped at the chance. It did however bring a certain level of worry that I might be building myself up for an experience that may struggle to reach the lofty expectations I had set over so many years as a spectator. I needn’t have worried and I’m glad to report these fears were unfounded.

This is a grand place and you definitely couldn’t call it understated. Both the clubhouse area and the surrounds around the 1st tee certainly give cause for nerves. You can feel the weight of history lingering around you and there are no shortage of eyes surveying your potential impending embarrassment if your tee shot were to go awry. We had 3 England rugby players and TV crew waiting to tee off afterwards and a corporate hospitality group on the putting green; no pressure then!

The aforementioned 1st tee shot is a wonderful spectacle viewed from the vantage point of the raised tee beside the castle like clubhouse. The walk is equally as pleasing and the hole is a relatively gentle one, played as a par 5 on the amateur card. I had my first putt from above the hole on this green and this was good to get this exposure early as the greens were immaculate and extremely slippery.

In my opinion, the strongest holes on the front 9 were the 3rd and the stretch 7-9. All of them solid par 4’s that reward quality golf shots and reject average ones. The 3rd in particular is a brute, playing just under 460 yards and slightly uphill, it’s a 4.5 par at least for most mere mortals. The approach shot is pure theatre, with the attractive property watching over the green and reminding you of your affluent surroundings.

Hole 7 was the prettiest of pictures as we arrived at the tee box. We took a minute to survey the scene of heather, manicured turf and forest blending beautifully together in a bright symphony of colour that really was a feast for the eyes. That view stretches from the 6th green and across the 7th and 11th fairways that run parallel to each other here. It would be between these two holes (7 and 11) as to which were my favourites on the course and I have still been unable to split them; it is just a wonderfully attractive section of the property.

A key feature at Wentworth is a lack of weaker holes that offer true opportunities to build a score. There are what would appear to be chances on the scorecard, but what the scorecard doesn’t show is that punishment still looms large. The run for home from the 13th is an extraordinary stretch of holes, which for me has the perfect balance of potential reward and difficulty which make the various tournaments that have been played over this course, such an engaging watch approaching Sunday afternoon. Holes 13-15 could wreck even the most in-form players scorecard, while 17 and 18 offer the opportunity to attack if the situation warrants it. Again, there is severe punishment awaiting if you get tempted into a impromptu bout of over confidence however and I’m sure many recreational rounds here end in both ecstasy and despair in equal measure.

This is an exclusive place and becoming more so as the years go by. I know in the U.K. any scent of a country club culture can put some people’s noses out of joint and result in a certain resentment. However looking at the golf course objectively, it is a wonderful test in great condition with memorable holes from beginning to end. Yes there are better courses in the surrounding area (Surrey’s heath belt has to be some the finest golfing real estate anywhere) but for me, coupled with the history, Wentworth is a bucket list golf course that all golfers should aspire to play if they are ever fortunate enough to get the chance. I may never get that chance again, but will relish that summers afternoon walking these famous fairways.

September 10, 2021
8 / 10
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Mark

Its just one of those courses that you have on your list of must plays, it certainly was for me and it didn't disappoint. I must have driven past the entrance many times whilst playing other courses locally wondering what it was like on the other side and driving through the estate to reach the club house you realise you are somewhere special. The course was being set up for the coming tournament and finishing on the 18th with the grandstand up gave me a very small slice of what it must be like for the pros with all the fans watching. Such a lovely course and condition was amazing.

August 11, 2021
7 / 10
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Alex

I played the West course at Wentworth maybe 7 years ago, so my actually playing experience is limited. However, my spectator experience …

I have visited this behemoth of new money every year since I was 15. I have seen it change hands and even met the new owners – The Reignwood Group. This is not the club it once was and indeed it is not the course it once was. In 2005 and again in 2007, the course was altered by The Big Easy, Mr Ernie Els.

When I say ‘it once was’, this is not a negative. The transformation of the club has come under much scrutiny and I shall leave the broadsheets to that, but from what I have seen, the club is a slick and luxury operation. The course has improved vastly and is the right test in terms of quality and difficulty for the flagship event on the European Tour.

The BMW PGA Championship is an outstanding competition and I have been lucky to have attended all 6 days previously, from the star-studded Pro-Am to the magnificent show that is the Sunday.

I must commend all that run and create the Spectator’s Village. You really could spend all day here; games, merchandise, food and champagne galore.

October 22, 2020
8 / 10
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Chris Mooney

I was luckily given an invite through a member, around my birthday time which was much appreciated! There’s 2 clear aspects you have to view wentworth with. 1. Is the course 2. Is everything else wentworth encompasses.

The drive in, the clubhouse, the service, the aura of the place just makes you appreciate golfs special places. We did the whole lot and went full in for a breakfast in the restaurant, tour of the clubhouse and mandatory £xxx spent in the proshop like it’ll be our last time playing golf again here. No matter where you went you were made to feel welcome. And to top it off managed to get into a conversation about Harbour Town With Matt Wallace on the driving range thanks to my lighthouse headcover from playing there in 2017!

We had an awesome starter lead us off on the 1st, and damn what a nervous tee shot it is standing in front of the iconic clubhouse, road in front and somewhere down there is a fairway! There many reviews with details about the course etc. For me, it was iconic and a great course - it’s immaculate and the greens are also some of the best you’ll putt on. It lacks some memorable iconic holes so to speak and in places it plays long. Wentworth is about the course and the experience. I loved it, but it wouldn’t knock Sunningdale old or new from either of their perch...

October 11, 2020
8 / 10
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