WGC was my second visit to play in the ‘Garden of England’ in recent months having played the neighbouring Knole Park.
On arrival WGC had the feel of a private members club where they have been playing for over 125 years (founded1890). The spacious clubhouse offered lovely course views over a pre round coffee on the south facing veranda which I thought would make for a great lunching spot but more on that later.
We played this tight tree lined course the week before Regional Open Qualifying which (2019) is the clubs penultimate staging of their five year cycle. It didn’t disappoint.
After a gentle opening hole the second calls for some strategy off the tee to this dog leg par four. The further left you go to play it away from the trees leaves a longer approach to a narrow entrance.
The fifth hole was the first standout hole and one which was well planned out by James Braid who redesigned some of the original holes. 165yards on the day it played half a club more up the hill to another narrow green with a steep run off left over two well placed bunkers. There is a bailout right which still allows for a pitch and putt par. Do not go left!
The long par five sixth hole followed by the short par four seventh is a true reflection on this Kent gem in that it offers up a fantastic variety of holes with well-placed bunkering but find the right areas of the small greens and you have a chance to score.
Making the turn I was a touch disheartened not to see a halfway hut for a wee scotch egg or another bacon bap but my disappointed soon subsided on making the tenth tee. A glorious par three at 190yds off the whites to a two tiered green that must make one of the best holes in the county to a back right pin. The reason for liking this hole so much is that it offers you a choice to fly it all the way or attempt a knockdown with release to make the top tier.
Eleven and twelve are back-to-back par 5s and if you can stay clear of more well placed bunkering it can yield good birdie chances. A lover of a short par 3 the thirteenth at 125yds on the day ticked another box before a series of tight driving holes in. Find the fairway at the par 4 sixteenth and it offers up a well framed mid iron to a downhill green with run offs both sides and long, just play front yardage!
The second shot to the par 5 eighteenth with the backdrop of the majestic clubhouse is one to be savoured but nearly as much as the ham, egg and chips post round! Simply putt the best ever severed up on the veranda in what has to be one of the most welcoming clubs in the South East of England.
On reflection I should really have scored better but it was really tricky in parts of this superbly conditioned parkland with a lot of semi blind greens and sadly got caught out with a wrong club or two. Nothing knew there…
There have been many comparisons between WGC and local track Knole Park and they are both very different courses. Knole is much more generous off the tee and routed over more undulating land – WGC is more of a plodders course, you can almost nurdle your way around it and score if you stay clear of the many bunkers. Knole to me is more pleasing on the eye but condition wise WGC gets it.
Date: July 12, 2019