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.
I played West Hill twice on a perfect day in March 2017 as part of a golf society and I’ve ended up falling in love with it. I have played a number of very good (and more famous) courses in the Surrey/Berkshire area in recent years but West Hill has, for some reason, left the greatest impression on me.
I will acknowledge that, for a 10 handicapper, I shot two good rounds off the par 69 yellow tees (77 and 74) so a neutral observer may be suspicious that my judgement has been clouded by this but I’m confident in my impartiality that this is not the reason for my favourable view.
So, why did I like West Hill so much? There are many reasons:
* The way it seems the course has been made to fit perfectly into such a small area.
* The conditioning of the course – Other than faster greens, I find it hard to believe the conditioning could be any better in summer. The turf could certainly not be any more lush.
* The chipping green and practice bunkers adjacent to the first tee. The close proximity means you can relax with any anxiety of having to rush for your tee slot.
* The Eric Bedser Tea Hut (the famous cricketing Bedser twins were both members) between the 12th green and the 13th tee where you can acquire a mean Sausage (or bacon) sandwich.
* The spongy ramp/walkway from the car park to the course. If only the paths on all courses could be as welcoming to our tootsies as this.
* The railway line (and many South West trains) that runs parallel to the long par 4 3rd.
The holes worthy of special mentions are:
* The 3rd (par 4) is a long par 4 in yardage terms but doesn’t play as long as you think. A great hole for drawers of the ball who like to open their shoulders, especially after playing the more restrictive first two holes.
* The 4th (par 3) is very inviting even if I managed to avoid hitting the green in both rounds. It seems most people rank the par 3 15th as the best par 3 but I preferred the 4th (despite a birdie on 15).
* The 5th (par 5) is a very good birdie (if not eagle!) opportunity with a nice approach to the green
* The 6th (par 4), similarly to the 5th, rewards you with the view of the green layout as you approach the brow of the hill. This should raise a smile.
* The 8th (par 4) gives great views of the hole with a slash of heathery bunkers to play with your mind for your second shot.
* The 9th (par 4) is a long two shotter unless you (dare) thread a driver through the narrow link between the two parts of the fairway.
* The 16th (par 4) is another hole with a great vista of the green – don’t take too much club off the tee, mind, or you’ll find the leat at the bottom.
* The 18th (par 4) allows you a welcoming last hurrah with the driver. Even with a lengthy drive, you‘ll probably be playing in nothing shorter than a 7 iron to a partially hidden green to the watching gallery on the well situated terrace. A lovely way to finish.
I did consider whether it was appropriate to give West Hill a 6-ball (Albatross) review as doing so gives me little manoeuvrability on future reviews but the way you feel about a course comes from the soul and shouldn’t be measured simply by its yardage, exclusivity or prominence. On that basis, it’s impossible not to give it top marks.
This is an excellent course. Played this last week, playing two rounds in a day for £65 winter rates. Which given the condition of the course at this time of the year is fantastic value and far cheaper than comparable courses (if that is a factor for people). Long hitters won't be able to use the driver too much as many fairways run out after 250 yards off the yellow tees. This increases the number of mid rather than short irons into holes, with the course playing longer than both Woking and Worplesdon. Greens were in good nick, but not especially fast, understandable given the time of the year. The course can feel a tad noisy with the proximity of the trainline (though not uncommon for golf courses in general), roads and Sandhurst Military academy. Althougth, i'm nitpicking. The holes are varied and interesting, well worth a visit. Make it your first stop, if you plan on doing the three W's.
We played West Hill yesterday on the very reasonable twilight green fee and found it a beautiful course with friendly staff and members. The course had been closed in the morning due to downpours but despite slightly soggy areas it played beautifully.
A classic of its type but very playable, neither of us losing a ball showing there is more space than appears, and the heather isn't too thick. Well recommended.