- +44 (0) 1908 370756
M1 J13, south of Milton Keynes
Contact in advance – midweek only
It was Lord Tavistock’s brilliant idea to bring golf to Woburn. He commissioned Charles Lawrie of Cotton & Pennink, to design the Duke’s course. After two years, and much tree-felling, the first course at Woburn Golf Club opened for play. It didn’t take long for it to be recognised. In 1979, the Dunlop Masters was hosted, and, since then, the Duke’s has never looked back – playing host to the English Strokeplay Championship, the British Masters and the Women’s British Open. The professional golfer, fashion designer and personality, Ian Poulter, is officially attached to Woburn Golf Club.With fairways flanked by glorious pine, birch and chestnut trees, the Duke’s is an intimate golf course. Each hole is played in splendid isolation. It’s a serious challenge too, measuring almost 7,000 yards from the back tees and 6,550 from the regular tees. Straight and long driving is the order of the day. This is not a course for the novice golfer – it will beat you up and spit you out.
There are some fantastic holes on the Duke’s but the pick of the bunch is the famous par three 3rd. Framed by rhododendrons and gorse, this is a genuinely delightful golf hole. The green is 100 feet below the tee, and the hard green slopes violently from back to front. Measuring only 125 yards, a short iron must be played to the heart of the green, otherwise, the ball is likely to scuttle off, pronto. The 5th is a wonderful, short par five – a well-struck drive down the right, as close as you dare to the trees, will provide a chance to reach the green in two – anything struck too far left, will scamper down a slope towards the trees.
The Duke’s is a good course, but Woburn’s younger upstart, the Marquess, has threatened it. There may be a benefit to this – the Duke’s will be less busy – perhaps... but don't miss the third course at Woburn, the Duchess.
What was my take-home from the Dukes at Woburn? The aroma of the towering pines, the immaculate tee boxes, the stunning clubhouse or the pristine greens?
They were all outweighed by the healing properties of the magic marmalade on the halfway house’s sausage roll.
Beaten to embarrassment by the first nine on this picturesque Buckinghamshire beauty, I was in desperate need of revival.
And then I was infused with the unique zing from the exotic-tasting pastry-based product and my never-before-seen shank disappeared, my drives gained 50 yards and my putts became ten times more accurate.
In the footsteps of one of Seve’s great victories, I had needed an A-game and a dollop of local knowledge from the start.
I had neither and that was particularly evident on two of its picture holes – the 3rd and 5th.
The former is a short, very attractive par three which demands accurate club selection from an elevated tee down to a green which slants from back to front.
I made the schoolboy error of not trusting my Garmin and overshot by a couple of yards. Our hosts then told me my chip back on to the putting surface was the trickiest shot on the course. Suffice to say I finished with a five.
The fifth is an extraordinary par five with a requirement for the second shot to hit the tiniest slither of fairway otherwise trees await on the right or a grassed crater lurks on the left.
But the par-three 6th tops them both in the fiendish league – anything short disappears down what can only be described as a chasm to the front centre and left of the green. Overhanging trees and a deep bunker mean that there is no chance of a par from this hollow grave.
These holes and my sudden shank knocked the stuffing out of me and my mood failed to improve until the mid-round snack.
Thereafter, Woburn’s length really kicks in.
With silver birch, horse chestnut trees and the pines lining each fairway, the only hope is to hit long and straight.
My playing partners who had consistently found the secret to do just that warned that the 14th was a particular monster but, by now, the mystic sausage roll was fully digested and I could no longer be intimidated.
In other words, Woburn Dukes can yield decent scores if you hit the ball properly.
Its greens are as good as I have played on so far this year but some have tiers with flags placed just beyond the divide, so, what initially appear to be good chips can easily bend away from the target.
The fairways are tight but, except for the aforementioned 5th, do not require a maths degree to hit the right spot.
And the setting is supreme. The avenues of trees, kites flying above, well-behaved dogs accompanying owners on the way round and even a baby dear skipping joyfully.
Before and afterwards, the facilities are top class – from the pro shop to the outside drinks and eating area to the range and putting green.
But none have quite the magic of the halfway house.
Now I just need the secret recipe to get my game going for the remainder of the season.
The tranquility of playing golf in a forest really appeals to me. The Dukes scores highly in this respect, although the towering trees can make the playing corridors feel a little narrower than they actually are.
The short par 3 third is the obvious highlight for me. I love a short par three, and the change in elevation means you have to really think about distance control. After that, the holes are consistently good without any stand outs. Some of them are very long, and the trees await an errant drive, with different doglegs shaping in all directions.
A very solid challenge that will test the very best.
I felt compelled to post a comment as there are a quite a few reviews where the Duke's hasn't lived up to expectation. I agree that the Duke's isn't "majestic" to look at some of the holes are less memorable however it doesn't pretend to be a resort course, it's a golfers course rich in tournament history and the conditioning never fails to disappoint.
The Duke's requires bold, straight, long tee shots, well controlled approach shots and a deft short game. It's not for novices, nor for the faint hearted. Mistakes are punished. Good golf is rewarded.
The conditioning is always excellent at Woburn.
The tree lined fairways give you a sense of privacy and exclusivity.
The smell of pine reminds you of Les Pins at Le Touquet.
The knowledge that several of the worlds best have graced the same fairways always makes me extra determined to not let the Duke win.
The welcome in the club house is always friendly and courteous and the facilities are well maintained, functional, practical and comfortable.
The practice facilities are excellent. It's well worth making the extra time to visit the dedicated short game area located behind the 2nd tee of the Duke's. I could while away several hours here given the chance.
Woburn is class and The Duke is a gentleman.
After playing The Marquess a couple of months back, I had been keen to return to Woburn for a 36 hole day across the remaining two. Luckily we found a fresh Autumn day and teed off bright and early on The Dukes.
Much like The Marquess, all holes are played in superb isolation with fairways flanked by pine, chestnut and birch trees. The close proximity of the trees to the greensites gives the feel that you are playing into the galleries, with the crowds watching on.
The opening five holes are a fantastic set of holes. After a strong Par 5 opener, the 2nd is a lovely sweeping right to left downhill Par 4. As you get to the green on the 2nd, you are met with the sight of the upcoming Par 3 3rd. A stunning downhill one shotter, where the green sits 100 feet below the tee box into a chasm of rhododendrons. A beautiful hole. The next, the dogleg uphill Par 4, was my favourite hole on the course. Looking back down the hole from the green is a sight for sore eyes. Another Par 5 follows that is very cleverly designed. If you don’t get a full and far tee shot away, you face a devilishly tricky 2nd, trying to find a very narrow fairway that falls away sharply on the left hand side.
After the Par 3 6th I found the next set of holes a little uninspiring. Back and forth with straight tee shot and a short iron flick into a flat green. There’s not a lot here to hold your interest.
From the 13th the course picks up again with an excellent Par 4 across an undulating fairway, which for my mind offers the best approach shot on the course.
The closing stretch are all good visually impressive holes requiring good tee shots to score well. If you’re offline across this narrow course it really bites and Par saves are a rarity.
For me the Marquess is a better course due to the consistency of very good holes and there are certainly less average holes there, but the opening set of holes on The Dukes are the best of the three, it’s just a shame the course never quite lives up to the standard set by the opening five. That said this is a very good course that is visually impressive throughout and is a strong test of golf.
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Fantastic lay out and in great condition. They were working on the course during the visit but I can only assume they are trying to improve on perfection.
It’s a tight course and a lot of irons needed around here making some of the 420 plus holes long and a real challenge.
Get out and play it if you can
Absolutely fantastic course, easier than the Duchess which I also played today. first class facilities. Super venue defo worth a trip, not ideal for high handicappers. Up their as one of my favourites.
I'm not a fan of the Dukes course. It is often raved about and ranked quite highly in the country (in this case Top 50 in England), mainly because of a couple of holes and the fact it's at 'Woburn'.
I'll start with the good. The first hole is nice, the second is really nice, and the third is beautiful. The 3rd is the famous downhill par 3, which photographs great, but the green does need to be flattened a bit, as the back to front slope makes it very easy for your ball to roll all the way off the front. The fourth is a really great uphill par 4 that doglegs left. Hole 5 is fine, and quite a good par 5.
The problems start at 6, which is an okay par 3 that really isn't an issue. But it is the start of a trend of extremely dull golf holes. 7, 8, 10 and 11 all run parallel and are very featureless holes, whilst 9 is a nice short par 3, but design-wise is very boring. 12 is an okay par 3 (similarly to 9, a bit boring). 13 is a really good par 4, but the dullness continues at 14, an extremely tight long par 5. 15, 16, 17 and 18 all run parallel, making them hard to distinguish from each other.
The course is extremely tight (which I don't mind on the Duchess), which combined with repetitive, featureless holes, makes for a very boring round. If you have to play 2 rounds at Woburn, I would definitely not play the Dukes, and play the Marquess and Duchess.
Previous host of the British Masters, this course at the Woburn estate is iconic in some English golfing circles. This was the first course at Woburn, and every hole is played in isolation due to the trees (more on those later). It can also play extremely long, and certainly difficulty and challenge is one of the strong characteristics of this track. There are some great holes, such as the downhill 3rd par 3 3rd, with its shallow, wide green. The next is a sweeping uphill dogleg, and for me the opening 6 holes are the best stretch on the course. On the back, the 13th approach is over a large gully, which means leaving the right yardage is crucial. Unfortunately, like many courses built in this era, the course is extremely tree lined, which doesn’t offer many different lines of play or strategy. It’s basically hit it straight, or dead. There’s definitely room for courses like this in the golfing world- but they are just not for me.
Played the Duke's in October 2019 and it was in good condition throughout; even off the yellow tees all the recent rain mean't it certainly played all of it's yardage, so no pushover.The course starts well with the first six holes arguably the most interesting on the course. The short downhill 3rd is a delightful par 3 and the uphill sweeping dog-leg par 4 is equally good. After the 6th I just feel the course becomes a bit mudane with fairly straightforward treelined holes similar to those that you can play on many other courses. Picks up at the end with the last three holes being dog-legged and more interesting. Certainly worth playing but overall I feel the ranking of the Duke's is too high.
Better than the Duchess but a level below the Marquess. In my view Dukes is not a top 100 course and as the trees grow and the course gets more claustrophobic and therefore monotonous (the trees and vegetation unchecked will also affect the condition), it will be less enjoyable to play and reviews will be less favourable.