West Hill is a haven for those seeking a traditional, challenging and classy golf course. The clubhouse is understated and there is no state-of-the-art driving range. Don't expect a palatial locker room or a gallery of champagne-quaffing dignitaries on the patio either. This is a golfer's club.You'll find eighteen very challenging holes, several of which do not require driver from the tee, but demand a long iron or fairway wood approach. The routing of the course has remained mostly unchanged for a hundred years, but the intelligence of the design means it plays a lot longer than the 6,322 yards on the card. Expect your short game to be tested by the fast, undulating and often expansive greens. Also, prepare to be creative with recovery shots, many of which will undoubtedly be from the thick heather that grows on most of the holes. West Hill boasts five excellent par-3s, ranging from 140 to 215 yards long. Each of them has perfectly-positioned bunkers and greens which require precise placement, rather than the usual safe shot to the middle. Indeed, if you end up the wrong-side of the large whale-back which runs through the centre of the 15th green, you may wish you had missed the green completely. With only two par-5s on the course, your performance on the par-3s can make or break a round. The lasting memory of a round at West Hill is inevitably the superb closing hole. Playing all of 440 yards uphill to the clubhouse, the par-4 18th is defended by two banks of severe fairway bunkers. Topped with heather, the narrow traps effectively turn the hole into a three-shot approach for many. With the Secretary's office and clubhouse dining room lurking just a few yards from the regular pin position at the back of the green, there are a few extra nerves associated with the final approach shot.Whether you ask a member to take you out or write to the Secretary, a round at West Hill will show you English inland golf at its finest.
Date: November 16, 2010