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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Date: October 13, 2020