Wisley (Church & Garden) - Surrey - England

The Wisley,
Mill Lane,
Ripley,
Surrey,
GU23 6QU,
England


  • +44 (0) 1483 211022

  • John Glendinning

  • Robert Trent Jones Jnr

  • Jason Hall

Concealed behind the Royal Horticultural Society's gardens at Wisley lies one of the most delightful private members' clubs in the British Isles. There is a strong partnership between the RHS and The Wisley Golf Club and it's apparent from the moment you arrive at this prestigious venue. The RHS provides advice and guidance to the Golf Club on shrubs and flowers and, in turn, the Golf Club helps the RHS with turf grass issues. It's a beautiful partnership.

With 27 secluded holes, set out across more than 200 acres, the Wisley is a big golf course. It opened for play in 1991, the first course in the UK to be designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr. The Trent Jones design philosophy is to preserve the natural beauty of the site while creating a playable course rich with strategic variety. His objectives have been fully met here at the Wisley, with many holes offering a wide selection of risk and reward choices, thanks to extensive landscaping.

A straw poll across the full complement of 700 members at the Wisley will reveal that the jury is out in terms of which of the three nine-hole loops is best (Church, Mill or Garden). We, too, are unsure which combination makes the best collection of 18 holes, but we can say that each nine is of equal standard, although subtly different in character. A prolific number of water hazards and bunkers are scattered throughout the 27 holes and there's more water in play here than at just about any other course in the British Isles - the River Wey and strategically-placed lakes come into play on no fewer than eight of the Garden's nine holes.

There are so many memorable holes that it is almost impossible to single any out, but the 6th on the Mill is one of our favourites. Here, the River Wey must be crossed twice, once with the tee shot and once approaching the diagonal green. It's a cracking 520-yard par five, which poses similar challenges to the 17th at Carnoustie. The 7th hole on the Mill is also unforgettable – a do or die par three which measures 223 yards from the back tees, where there's an amazing double water hazard to carry before the kidney-shaped green – also well protected by four bunkers – is reached.

Historically, the Garden and Mill loops were considered the premier configuration, but the Church nine's refurbishment changed many opinions. The 2nd on the Church course is a challenging three-shot hole for most golfers, where water meanders along the full length of the right side. The approach shot is testing, even with a wedge in hand. Next up is the most attractive one shotter at The Wisley, which requires a forced carry over water to a tricky sloping green that is protected by two sentry bunkers left and right of the putting surface. The gathering trap to the right is on the safe bailout line which, if found, will leave a tough bunker shot with water threatening behind the slippery green.

The Wisley is certainly top drawer and if you are given the opportunity to play here, take it immediately. It's easy to see why top professionals are Wisley members... 27 engaging holes and probably the best practice facilities in the British Isles.

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Reviews for Wisley (Church & Garden)

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Description: Concealed behind the RHS gardens at Wisley lies one of the most delightful private golf clubs in the British Isles... the Wisley. Rating: 5.1 out of 6 Reviews: 15

Played this for the 1st time a couple of weeks back, the pre round set up, of practice area, and clubhouse is amazing, the course however for me, felt slightly cramped and although a good test of golf, it lacked a degree of strategic challenge in that there weren't many choices off the tee, or on the approaches, it felt as if the course design dictated the shot, rather than allowed you to plan your method of attack !

5 / 6
Wisley (Church & Garden)
August 21, 2017


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I was fortunate to be invited as a guest of a member in May and I felt compelled to write a review.

In summary, the course condition was sensational. It's the stand-out element of the club that warrants recognition. You would find it a challenge to locate a better example of how to prepare and manicure a golf course anywhere in the United Kingdom. The hand cutting of the bunkers, coupled with the speed of the run off areas, the perfectly flat tee boxes and impeccable greens (11.5 on the day we played), made it a pleasure to play, it is visually stunning.

The practice facilities are also a stand-out example of what a true club can offer its members. Greens, a short game area, I counted 6 or 7 bunkers, and a full grass range that allows use of drivers are all on offer. Each sat around a café and performance centre and all clearly designed to create a space to improve and embrace the game.

The standout holes were Church 2, a long par 5 that we played directly into the wind, with water running the length of the course on the right of the hole. Church 9 was perhaps the prettiest of holes, a dog leg left to right, surrounded by water at the green with an abundance of trees and flowers surrounding the green.

The course and experience is above and beyond any expectation I had before hand. Having wanted to play here for 20+ years I was thrilled to get the chance and hope to get another in future.

If you get a chance to play here, don't let it pass you by!

6 / 6
Wisley (Church & Garden)
June 12, 2017


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The three returning loops – Church, Mill & Garden – are set out in distinct areas of the property and rarely intermingle with each other. In terms of quality there is very little between the threesome and a clear consistency. My personal preference was for the Church then the Garden and lastly the Mill but there wasn’t much to choose between them all. The Church and Garden tied in a little bit better because the putting surfaces are the same and are somewhat different to the Mill, not so much in style but certainly in visual appearance and presumably grass type or at least age.

There are standout holes on each nine. The second on Church is a daunting par-five with water running the length of its 534-yards along the right whilst the next is an attractive par-three, again over water. I lost count of how many times water came into play (too many for sure) and this, along with several strategically placed bunkers, is the main defence of the course. The water hazards are actually larger, and closer to play, than they initially appear because all the bankings feed down towards them with little to stop a ball containing any sort of momentum.

The Garden nine begins with a bang in the shape of a slinging par-five to a brilliant water-fronted green. The third is a stunning short hole too whilst the last is a dramatic finisher. In contrast to the other two nines the Garden has most of the trouble down the left so it may be favoured by faders!

The Mill course takes a little bit of time to warm up but once it does it is very good. The last four holes are a super run with a brace of par-fives, a short hole sandwiched in-between and the taxing last that plays up towards the clubhouse terrace.

The Wisley compares well to other modern inland courses in the UK. Unlike some there is a heartbeat to the course, a purpose and it even has a bit of soul. It’s a colourful place both on and off the course.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

4 / 6
Wisley (Church & Garden)
June 09, 2017


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Just wow - the Wisley is an amazing club and three fantastic and different nines, but all in immaculate condition.I wasn't expecting such a great atmosphere and such great staff and service as many other high end clubs i have visited have been stuffy or soulless. Not the Wisley. From the moment I drove through the gate, saw the stunning landscaping and was greater by friendly bag drop staff and a helpful receptionist. The manager even came over to talk to the member I was with and asked about my golf and the whole team were friendly. Off to the range and again, wow - an incredible facility and was lucky enough to see Brett Rumford practicing as well as Oliver Wilson and Francesco Molinari. They have a performance centre which is very high tech. You can see why so many tour pros pay to be a member here.As for the golf courses, we played Church which was really interesting and as in the course guide, a real risk reward design option from RTJ on each hole. I loved the second, a great par 5 and then 3rd, a great par 3. The closing hole is like Augusta with Rhodes, water and line trees.We then played Mill which has only been back in play for two weeks and the condition was equally good, with the purest bent grass greens i have putted on. Loved hole 3 and the finishing holes 8 and 9. Everywhere you look there is stunning flowers and white sand bunkers in true RTJ style.After a friendly lunch, we played Garden, which was my third of the three nines, but still better than any nine i have played, so if you can only play eighteen holes here, ask for Mill and Church. Felt privileged to play here and also welcomed beyond my belief and superior to any club I have been too. This place has it all.
6 / 6
Wisley (Church & Garden)
June 28, 2014


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We are pretty lucky in GB&I that there are not too many courses that are very private – The Wisley is one of these and only the very fortunate will play here, I say fortunate and that is spot on. This was my third visit since 2005 and the club and the courses (three loops of nine) have improved each time. The Mill nine is currently out of action and undergoing a major facelift and if the result is of the same standard as the completed Church and Garden nines, then all 27 holes will be in great nick - so this latest review is for the 18 holes that are in play. The opening hole on Garden is decent par-5, turning left with a stream running the length of the hole on the left and then cutting in front of the green. The next holes to grab my attention are the 6th and 7th; a huge lake separates both of these par-4’s that run in opposite directions, anything left is wet. The 8th hole can be a monster par-3 played from the back tee, to a kidney shaped green with three bunkers short and right. The last on the Garden nine is another with an expanse of water down the left side – another good hole without a doubt but an observation rather than a criticism is that the 6th, 7th and 9th holes play very similar – all par 4’s, all with water on the left and all with bunkers to avoid on the right. Before I continue, I must say that the Church nine has always been my favourite and now these nine holes are even better. The 2nd is par-5 with plenty of water down the right side; I think the second shot is the most important here, aim further left than you think, in fact have the bunkers that are 40-60 yards short of the green as the line. The 3rd is a super par-3, all carry across the corner of another water hazard (very reminiscent of the 15th hole on the West course at KLGCC, Malaysia). The next three holes present a very good looking part of the course, the 4th is one of the stand out par-5’s – every shot from tee to green cannot be rushed; the drive must be considered more than on most other holes as a large tree on the left will push you towards the right to the clever bunkering. Then the lay-up must favour the left side as there is plenty of trouble on the right; many bunkers plus a brand new burn that kicks in around 200 yards from the green and then protects the right-side along with four more bunkers – brilliant. The new snaking burn continues to be a ‘pain’ for the next two holes, both par-4’s – this water hazard is huge success and has a look of the Barry Burn on the championship course at Carnoustie, which must be a compliment. The last two holes are strong, the tee shot on the 8th can seem to be more tricky than it is – it appears that there are a sea of bunkers all at landing point, the truth is that there is plenty of room between them all – great design. The 9th is one of the really good modern finishing holes, a difficult par-4 with some water down the right, a narrowing fairway to a slim green and plenty of mature trees all around – certainly a feel good hole. Great feel off the course too – real top end quality in and around the clubhouse. Like I said at the beginning, The Wisley is very private but if you can get to know a member to help you get a game, then do so.
5 / 6
Wisley (Church & Garden)
June 21, 2013


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Went back to the Wisley after a few years to play the Garden & Church 9's, the Mill is currently going through the same re-design that they have had. I remember them being good before but the RTJ re-design has taken them to the next level. They really are in tour standard condition, immaculately presented. The Garden 9 is fairly straight forward, keep it out of the water and hit the greens or at least miss in the right spot and you have a chance of scoring well but its the Church 9 that gets you thinking. Every shot on every hole needs your full attention, get it right and you will be rewarded with a good score get it wrong and you will you might need to re-stock on golf balls in the shop. My favourite hole was the short par 4 8th. Standing on the tee all you can see is bunkers but check the planner and hit to the right spot and a birdie is on the card.
5 / 6
Wisley (Church & Garden)
June 02, 2013


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Played the recently refurbished Church 9 last week, and couldn't have been more impressed. Retains the same basic layout but now with much clearer definition and protection on each hole. There is a new burn which features prominently on holes 4,5,6 which makes for new challenges but is also more pleasing visually than before. Greens are of a comparable standard to the those recently layed on the Garden and it represents a continuation of the improvement started on that 9. Here's hoping they proceed quickly with the refurbishment of the Mill 9.
6 / 6
Wisley (Church & Garden)
June 29, 2011


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Having been lucky enough to visit four years ago, was keen to get an invite back, even if in January and with low expectations following previous weeks snow. Played the Garden & Mill courses and can only describe the greens as 'unbelievable'. Saw Molinari brothers playing & can understand why as these greens were way better than tour standard. If they are like this now - hope I can get a Summer invite as can't imagine how good they will be. Really loved Garden, thinking course, risk reward, great traps in perfect condition and good challenges. Every club in the bag courses are always the best and the clubhouse atmosphere is not like stuffy old clubs or precious like Queenwood - just friendly & excellent service and food.
6 / 6
Wisley (Church & Garden)
January 27, 2010


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The best greens in the county, best practice facilities, best service and with the three nines - Robert Trent Jones has provided the highest quality of design you can only wish for. As a bonus, met Paul Casey, a member and the world's number 3 golfer whilst there today. What more can be said..............................
6 / 6
Wisley (Church & Garden)
July 08, 2009


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Played Wisley yesterday (31 January) as the guest of a member - the only way you can play as a non-member. The Garden 9 is still closed for extensive repairs; a lot of work is being done to reshape fairways and green complexes. Played Mill and Church - was stunned by the good condition of the course given the poor winter weather we have had. The (heavily sloping) greens are fast and true, even having been hollow-tined recently. I think the condition of the course makes you think the holes are better than they are, certainly the routing is good but not exceptional. Agree with a previous reviewer that the course and the club in general feels quite Americanised - I have played Queenwood and the experience is similar (both have complementary shoe cleaning, bag drop etc - the courtesy practice balls here are new Callaways, rather than new ProVs at Queenwood). Service stays just the right side of obsequious. For me the par 3 holes stand out, especially the 7th on the Church, a cracking downhill par 3 which reminded me of Royal Melbourne with open sandy scrub and heather and a huge front bunker to carry and the 7th on the Mill, which forces a long carry of a large lake to a green set at an angle. Overall a good course, one which i would like to revisit in summer, when the course is said to appear more links-like in character with high wispy rough and would present a severe challenge.
4 / 6
Wisley (Church & Garden)
February 01, 2009


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