Wisley (Church & Garden) - Surrey - England

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


  • +44 (0) 1483 211022

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: 8.4 out of 10 Reviews: 21
TaylorMade
Andy Newmarch
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.
June 20, 2013
8 / 10
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Goffy
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.
June 01, 2013
8 / 10
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Andrew Jones
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.
June 28, 2011
10 / 10
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classy golfer
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.
January 27, 2010
10 / 10
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classy golfer
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..............................
July 07, 2009
10 / 10
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David O
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.
February 01, 2009
6 / 10
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Tarby
Playing from the back tees on a damp drizzly day the course played really long. With the Garden 9 holes under renovation our group played the Mill and Church 9s. Great condition as one would expect from a club boasting a number of European Tour Pros as members and greens upto tour standard. The club oozes class. I was lucky enough to get an invite to play here and would love to play here again. It was a real treat.
November 04, 2008
10 / 10
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Goffy
You can only get to play The Wisley by invite and if you get the opportunity make sure you don’t pass it up. There are 3 loops of nine, we played the Church and the Mill and they are absolutely stunning. The greens were running at 11 on the stimp and were so true, this was in late September. The 18 holes we played were varied and testing but fair, you may not play to you handicap but you don’t leave the course feeling like you’ve just been beaten up. The club boasts 3 of this years Ryder Cup players and several touring pros as members including Monty which says it all really, absolute quality. This is a must play, that’s if you can get an invite!
October 18, 2008
8 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
There are so many great established courses in this area and it was always going to be a tough job for a new course to join the Surrey Golf elite – but the Wisley has not only joined, it has leapfrogged many of the existing traditional courses. It will probably be a fair job to get a game at The Wisley as you need to play with a member but whatever it takes to get a game here I would say it’s worth doing as this is a glorious golf venue. Ultra modern courses but top quality is the key here. Customer service is so high that you have a feeling of being in another world - certainly one away from the normal hum drum of south east second rate attention given at a lot of golf clubs. The vision to make the Wisley experience a real pleasure certainly works here.As for the golf … there is a lot of water about which comes into play so often and with a higher than normal degree of difficulty, the Wis is a tough track. Favourite holes for me …… 3rd hole on The Garden and the 9th on the Mill.
April 03, 2005
6 / 10
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Hugh
I can't quite remember how I came about getting an invite to play here, it was quite a few years ago and I think I was a second reserve on the client list. Anyway, one thing is for sure, I can remember playing here as though it was yesterday. We played all three loops of nine during the course of the day and I couldn't personally split the three nines except in character...they were all of a similar excellent standard. The conditioning was simply stunning and I have yet to play a course in the UK that matches the Wisley for quality. Most noticeable for me was the absolute definition between the cuts of grass and the rough was penal. The thing that sticks in my mind the most was the attentive but understated service. This is a quality venue and if you get the chance to play it, even as a second reserve, jump at it.
March 21, 2005
8 / 10
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