West Hill Golf Club is the youngest of the trinity of “Ws” located in this most beautiful corner of Surrey (Woking and Worplesdon being the other two). Cuthbert Butchart, a Scottish professional from Carnoustie, laid out the course in 1910 on the instruction of the founder, Mrs Marguerite Lubbock, a keen golfer. At the time, ladies were not allowed to become members at other local Surrey clubs, so she decided to form one of her own. Butchart went on to become West Hill's first club professional and he also made a name for himself as a fine, forward-thinking clubmaker. His drivers were revolutionary, superbly balanced and fitted with innovative lead weights.
Butchart is not a household name in golf course architecture, but he created an excellent course at West Hill, which has remained virtually untouched ever since (except for some recent bunker refurbishment). The course is routed in an out and back fashion across undulating sandy ground. The fairways are lined with pine, birch and, of course, tangly heather.
Measuring slightly more than 6,350 yards, West Hill is not long by today's standards, but with only two par fives and a lowly par of 69, it represents an enjoyable and testing challenge. The key to scoring well at West Hill is the successful negotiation of the five short holes and the best of these is undoubtedly the 15th, which measures 212 yards from the back tees. British golf luminary Henry Cotton felt that the 15th was one of the best short holes in Britain and, for a while, Cotton shared the West Hill course record with a 67.
West Hill is home of the famous Father and Son Foursomes Tournament, which was first contested in 1931. The Times and The Telegraph report on this event as it progresses each year. The winning team become proud holders of the Geoffrey Lubbock Challenge Cup, which was donated by the husband of the founder Marguerite.
If it's charm that you are looking for, then you need look no further than West Hill. This is a truly delightful golf course. The club hosted the PGA Seniors championship in 1989 and the Girls Amateur was also staged here in 2005.
I have been sat debating on 5 or 5 and a half for this course for 5 minutes now. I gave Walton Heath a 5, but this course is my favourite style. I think on balance, trying not to be biased it deserves the same if not better! I'll stick to a 5 for now.. just!
Given our incredibly late tee time of 6:15pm, we had the whole course to ourselves. We just about managed to get round, having to watch with great intensity the ball flights of my playing partners on the 17th and 18th but oh my what a place! I've wanted to play Woking for a lot, and some would say they can't pick a favourite between this and that, I look forward to playing Woking on my next journey down if it's anything like this place!
I think I would always be a little biased because this is golfing haven for me. Whether it's a parkland with water or a heathland dotted with tall mature trees, I'm in awe all the way round. I would argue this even has more holes that I stood and could really admire from the tee than Walton Heath. The contouring land this course is laid out on gives a great balance of golf holes. Even going round a house which I found quite unique. I'm sure they get their fair share of golf balls in their gardens!
Again, there's no point talking about condition, everything I've found in Surrey and Hampshire so far (This will be my 5th) is nothing short of brilliant. It's a shock to see such consistent condition coming from Norfolk, where some can be good and some can be far from it.
There are a lot of really strong holes here for me. All consistent in quality but a few that stood out to me were 4,5,8 and 14. The first being a lovely looking par 3 in the first to head to head back towards the clubhouse before darting off in the opposite direction again with 5. You can't see much from the tee but make sure you're short of the heather! 8 is probably my favourite with great cross bunkering making it a difficult tee shot and the very difficult 14th which is very deceiving off the tee. 456 off the whites, and after thinking I'd hit one perfectly, I found myself in the left crap next to all the trees!
Overall, I can't really fault West Hill. I'm up to 28/100 at the time of writing and I'd probably call it one of my favourites to date. Well worth the trip, and a half decent twilight rate too!
'The perfect members club' is how my friend described it, and we had a brilliant round and experience here.
For our 3 ball (12,12,14 hcp) there was plenty of challenge, highlights being:
- World class greens: perfect roll, vast expanses of subtle swales and undulations. Unless you're a seriously good putter there'll be a 3 putt on your card!
- Really strategic drives; on par 4s 11 & 12 we really had no idea where to place our drives; and after playing 12 I still have no real idea of where a 'safe' shot would be
- Clever par 3s; on 7 we each hit to within 20 ft of the hole and walked off thinking we'd got the hang of the short holes here...on 9 back pin placement we all went at it, missed and a 4 won the hole!
- Excellent use of bunkering for depth perception: 6, 8, 10,16
- As my friend said, some of the friendliest members we've met anywhere; lots of youngsters and women members (a nice contrast to some very male-dominated clubs) and we felt like if you were lucky enough to join you would be made to feel very welcome
A class act, and if visiting the area I would tie this in with 36 at The Berkshire and you'll have a cracking few days!
West Hill has been on my list of courses to play for quite some time, so when the offer came I jumped at the chance. The experience from start to finish was exceptional.
The pro shop welcome and warm and friendly, and many members stopped to say hello and wish me well for my round.
The course opens with a deceptively tricky par 4 with a stream/ditch to avoid off the tee, heather on both sides and a green that slopes from front to back. A three wood left me in the heather and a 6 followed.
The third invites most to open the shoulders and let one rip with the driver. At over 450 yards it is a test for all golfers and a stream in front of the green and a wicked sloping green awaits. A par here felt like a birdie and my round was off and running!
The 6th is a straightforward par 4 with a cross bunker to negotiate if you are long off the tee, sim left and you will be fine.
The 8th was the star of the show for me, a stunning hole of clever design and very easy on the eye. The greenside bunkers are wicked and a sandy par save felt like a birdie for me.
10 is a difficult driving hole with OOB and a ditch either side to contend with, a well struck drive will bring the left hand bunker into play, particularly off the yellow tees.
14 is a hole that appears to divide opinion. A sharp dog left right means a high cut off the tee is paramount if you want to get home in two. My playing partner who is left handed demonstrated what can happen if you go the other way! A par here had me celebrating like I had won the open.
18 is hard! The stunning cross bunkering with heather in bloom was tremendous and despite a card wrecking 8 I enjoyed the final hole none the less. Time for a well earned beer on the terrace overlooking the 18th.
The condition was perfect. Every hole was immaculate. Fairways were like carpets and the greens were fast and true.
If you get the chance to play West Hill - take it.
Heathland course on great land but strangely green in the driest April on record. Long Meadow grass in the greenside fringes. Spongy fairways. This is a really good layout, but looks like someone has gone a bit mad with the fertilizer....that may come back to haunt them
West Hill is a beautifully presented and scenic course with a number of holes framed by pines and heather. When we played it (September 2020) it was in tremendous condition despite the lack of rain and challenges faced by some other courses in the area. The course wasn’t excessively tight, allowing you to enjoy hitting driver off most tees, without being easy.
Standout holes for us were the 3rd, 12th and 18th. Our minor quibble would be that in some places the course is packed in a little tightly. Examples include the 14th where it seems the design of the hole is heavily influenced by the desire to avoid balls going into a house on the right and the putting green which seemed to be quite close to the right of the 18th green, especially given the approach is long and left is dead.
Overall though this is a wonderful course, well worth its place in the top 100.
There’s very little to choose between the 3Ws, but I’d make the case that West Hill is the most consistent of the three courses when measured across the eighteen holes. It may not quite hit the same highs as elements of Woking and Worplesdon, but the gentle undulations and well routed design means that West Hill delivers with first-rate heathland golf.
As with Woking and Worplesdon, West Hill has excellent greens, some of which are huge and include some interesting undulations. The best of these can be found on the back nine at the 12th and 15th. The 12th is a short, perhaps reachable par four but a back-half pin placement would provide an excellent defence as the green is a big two-tiered affair. The 15th green on the other hand is more subtle. This is a long par three but the green is undulating and menacing, protected by a spine that runs through the centre of it.
Greens aside, my favourite holes are those with the cross-bunkers, namely the 6th, 8th, 10th and 18th, all of which are memorable. The tee shot on 3 is also gripping as you drive across a diagonal ridge and a wedge of heather to an angled fairway whilst trains pass by on their return from London. The only hole that misses the target is the 14th which is sadly a bit of a mess from the tee and would benefit from the tee position being relocated to its left. The only options from the tee are a lofted drive over the trees or a big slice, hence I’m quite surprised that the club haven’t found a fix for this hole yet. Otherwise, there’s a lot to like about West Hill. It’s a course that’s always been beautifully presented on the times when I’ve played it, and I must also extend my positive reflections towards the clubhouse whose ambience is more relaxed than most highly ranked clubs making for a comfortable and welcoming trip for visitors looking for a day out on the Surrey heathland.
I played at West Hill on the Monday just passed, having been left at home with no set plans. With the prospect of another uneventful day of furlough looming I decided to scour the top 100 website to look for a course to play, whereby I could make the most of the end of British summertime. I live in SW London and so I'm fortunate to live in close proximity to the Surrey sand-belt courses, the big Berkshire courses and Hampshire which is also blessed with some very fine places to play. Although I'm yet to play many of these I am aware of the pedigree that they hold, and when browsing the Surrey list my eyes were of course drawn to the household names of Sunningdale, Wentworth, Walton Heath etc. Sandwiched next to Worplesdon and Woking is West Hill golf club (both on this website and in geographical location) - ranked 10th in Surrey and in the top 100 for England as well as GB & I. Having compared green fee's with many other of the courses in Surrey, I settled on booking a round here with the very pleasant secretary, who kindly offered me a twilight fee brought forward two hours, for a very reasonable £75. I booked in at 9.30am to play at 14.08pm, and so the excitement started to build - a day once with no plans had improved its prospects immeasurably! I jumped on a train at 12.30pm and journeyed for half an hour from Clapham Junction to Brookwood station, which is a 10 minute walk from the club. Whilst on the train you pass through the towns of West Byfleet and then Woking, catching glimpses firstly of West Byfleet golf club and then Woking GC, Worplesdon GC and the clubhouse of West Hill itself. Its these fleeting moments where you spot a green, or a manicured fairway or purple patches of heather that really cause anticipation to build and as I hopped off the train to begin my walk to the course, I sensed that it may be a special afternoon in the making. I arrived at the gates 50 minutes before my tee time and as I wandered towards the pro's shop I paused for a moment to take the view in. Laid out in front are vast expanses of heather, scotch pine and delightful panoramic views of the course. The 1st and 18th are laid out in a back and to fashion from the clubhouse and away to the left you can see the magnificent 2nd green and the (immensely difficult) 3rd hole. Once I'd snapped out of my gaze, I was warmly welcomed by the professional and directed to the chipping green (which is great fun) and practice nets. 45 minutes flew by and I was on the tee. I had a tee time all by myself and I could not wait to take all the elements of the course in. It is a glorious opening hole - short, but with a huge amount of heather to carry with your tee shot (this is the predominant theme of the entire course). An iron was sufficient to open the round, a wedge and two putts for a par got me off to a good start and I approached the rest of the round with a real buzz. The condition of the course was absolutely pristine. The most recent reviewer remarked that he had never seen the course in better condition and I am certain that I have never played a course that is well manicured as this. The tees had been hand cut in a checkered pattern, the fairways were mown tight, the bunkers were full of wonderful soft sand and the greens were incredibly firm and true. In my opinion there are no weak holes on the course. The 3rd is a fantastic blind par 4 that requires two good hits to reach the green. The 5th is a brilliant blind par 5 with heather crossing the middle of the fairway, taking driver and even 3 wood out of the longer hitter's hands. The view from the top of the 6th hole down to the green is gorgeous and the 8th believe to be the best hole on the course - it requires a straight drive through an avenue of tall pines, avoiding a number of fairway bunkers, and the green complex has a very tricky back to front slope. Other highlights were the 10th, the driveable 12th, the 15th par 3 which has one of the best greens I've ever seen, and the 18th which is as strong as a finishing hole could be. Played uphill, it measures 440 yards from the tips and with the clubhouse sitting a mere 5 yards off the back of the green, nerves could definitely play a part when one is standing over their second shot in a Saturday medal! The view from the clubhouse back down to the course is stunning and when putting out on the 18th it feels as if the members are sat on the green with you, it really is that close. If I continue to describe my round here I will soon run out of superlatives, but I have to say that this is up there with the best courses I have ever played and with the warm welcome from the members and professional, it is one of the best golfing days of my life. You could throw a blanket over Woking, Worplesdon and West Hill and the area is very lucky to have them all in such close proximity. The debate as to which is the best course of the 3 W's is not one for me to settle as I am yet to visit Woking or Worplesdon; but if they are on a par with West Hill then in my opinion this might well be the golden triangle of golf in England. West Hill really is worth a 5.5 ball rating minimum, and is an absolute treat to play. Make every effort to visit it!
I am lucky enough to play West Hill every year as part of my society. But this year is the best condition I have ever seen the course. Perfectly green fairways with defined cut. Greens were excellent as usual. But there appears to have been a lot of work in recent months addressing finer details which have also made a fantastic difference. Just those little touches make for an even more enjoyable experience. Staff always very friendly and welcoming and can’t wait to get back there next September but hopefully before. Top top course all round.
West Hill is well deserving of its rankings in the Top 35 in England, and Top 100 in the UK. Often thought of as the 'weakest' of the 3Ws, it is still not to be missed. It is a classic heathland course with lots of great holes, and a must play if it the area.
1 and 2 are nice starting holes, and 3 is a really good blind par 4. 5 is a really good par 5, where heather cuts across the fairway, taking driver out of your hand. 6 is a gorgeous blind par 4 with a spectacular view when you get up the hill, and 7 is a lovely par 3. Hole 8 is in my opinion the best 8th hole in the London heathlands. It is beautifully bunkered, with great strategy, and just a gorgeous hole. 10 and 11 are two very tough par 4s, whilst 12 is a great short par 4 with a crazy green. 9 and 13 are short par 3s tucked into the corners of the property which I like, whilst 14 is a hard dogleg right, often criticised for being too sharp. 15 is another nice par 3, 16 a lovely par 4 with a view of the railway behind, and 17 a good par 5 with heather coming across the fairway again. 18 is a spectacular par 4 with brilliant bunkering and strategy, and the green is literally paces from the clubhouse, so don't catch a flier!
I understand the criticism that there are too many blind shots (3, 5, 6, approach into 11), and some people say too often heather or a ditch cuts across the fairway and takes driver out of your hands (1, 5, 11, 16, 17 and 18). However, this is all part of the fun of plodding your way around a brilliant test of golf.
West Hill has a lovely rustic feeling to it, it’s well manicured but has a grand, natural vibe to it. On the first hole you’re straight out into the heather then both sides of the second are bordered by our twisted purple friend and enemy. It’s a tough yet fair start before you disappear into the pine trees.
The greens in July were really quick, understandably. They felt faster than Woking’s next door. Despite its every day SSS of +1 for men it is scoreable if you don’t do anything stupid, and it does have some very cool bunkering but you never feel like you’re going from sand to sand. They do help to frame what I think are West Hill’s most attractive holes, the 8th and 16th. There isn’t a weak or ugly hole there though, it’s consistently tough, rewarding and pretty.
The practice facilities are excellent too but there’s something I can’t put my finger on that’s stopping me giving it 5 out of 6. Perhaps it’s experiences at other courses, Woking has a couple of weaker holes but stuns you in other ways, whilst other heathlands I’ve played have felt more wild and adventurous. West Hill is beautiful and I really enjoyed it but I won’t be rushing back. It deserves a place in rankings lists but for me personally doesn’t hold much replay value.