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!
Date: September 24, 2020