- +44 (0) 1908 370756
M1 J13, S of Milton Keynes
Contact in advance – midweek only
Ross McMurray, Clive Clark, Peter Alliss and Alex Hay
Woburn Golf Club is in an enviable position. It's the only club in England that can claim to have had all three courses continually placed in the Top 100 since we became the first publication to rank England’s Top 100 Golf Courses back in 2006.
The Marquess course straddles the county boundary of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire and is set within 200 acres of majestic mature woodland, part of the delightful 3,000-acre Woburn Abbey estate, home of the Dukes of Bedford for over 350 years. Woburn Abbey is presently home for the Marquess of Tavistock and his family, the new course taking the name from his title.
It took a quartet of architects to develop the Marquess: Ross McMurray, Clive Clark, Peter Alliss and Alex Hay, the course opening for play in 2000. The Marquess is different in nature to the Duke’s and the Duchess, but perfectly complementary. The Marquess’ fairways are wider and the land more undulating The trees are more park-like, featuring oak, yew, chestnut, rowan and beech, whereas the other two courses are predominantly carved through pine forests.
The Marquess is a supremely challenging golf course, measuring well over 7,000 yards from the back tees. In 2001 and 2002, it stole the British Masters from its elder brother, the Duke's. Thomas Levet and Justin Rose respectively emerged as the winners.
There is absolutely no doubt that Woburn is a classy place to play golf and now with three superb golf courses – Duke's, Duchess and Marquess – it is one of the most desirable golfing venues in England. The Marquess course will surely mature into one of the best championship golf courses in Britain.
Visually a treat - as long as you like playing golf in a forest (I do). Links afiicionados may not be fans of trees, but on the Marquess they frame every hole. Sometimes the trees are an attractive backdrop, sometimes they pinch in at driving distance or narrow a green entrance, and sometimes they are in the middle of the fairway - the par five 7th is clearly the signature hole that rightly grabs the headlines.
I enjoyed this course. The greens and overall conditioning were excellent (even on a wet day), the greens are big and interesting, plenty of changes in elevation, and a mix of long and short holes (unless you play it off the back tees then it's a mixture of long and very long holes).
It was great to see the Women's British Open here too, showcasing to the world that golf in Britain is more than windswept miserable links.
I cannot believe this is my first Top 100 post of 2020! My wife and I had our first child in January and then we have been in lockdown for most of 2020. Strange year! So to say I was buzzing driving round the M25 at 6.45am was an understatement!
This was my first visit to Woburn, a venue I’ve been wanting to come to for a long time. Woburn has the honour of having all three of its courses inside the Top 100 rankings, so I decided to start at the top with The Marquess and I’ll head back for a 36 hole day hopefully later this year, but at the moment, no comparisons can be made with The Duke and Duchess.
The Marquess is visually stunning. It gives you the feeling you’re on a Tour standard golf course. Each hole is carved out of various types of trees, which makes it feel as though you’re playing in an amphitheater. The green sites are some of the best I’ve played in the UK. Very cleverly designed and the greens themselves rolled quick and were often tough to read with subtle breaks and heavy contours. They were fabulous.
Tee to green, although long, is relatively straightforward and forgiving. A great mix of dog legs and elevation changes mean on the whole there aren’t too many holes that are the same.
Holes 3, 7, 9 and 12 are stunning. Hole 7, a Par 5 where a copse of trees splits the fairway, allowing you a choice of drives, ending at the highest point of the course looking across farmland, might be the best Par 5 I’ve played during my England Top 100 tour so far and instantly makes it’s way into my England Dream 18. The other hole that makes it in there is the 12th. A short Par 4 with a snaking water hazard that offers you an array of ways to play it. It’s aesthetically pleasing and extremely fun to play.
It’s hard to pick faults, but for me the Par 3’s are fairly unremarkable and I was slightly underwhelmed by a couple of the finishing holes, namely 15, 17 and 18, which don’t measure up to the class of the rest of the course, but it’s a fantastic place to play golf with a selection of incredible holes in immaculate condition. A must for any Golfer.
For all photos of reviews, please follow Chris’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/top.100.golf/
This course is simply one of the best in the UK. Condition was outstanding. Staff were fantastic. Everything about this place is perfect.
One of the best English courses I've played. Simply beautiful condition and location. a must for any golfer living in outer north London.
Like Forest of Arden, the Marquess course on the Woburn Estate is a previous host of the British Masters. It is fairly similar to the Dukes course, albeit with wider fairways and more water hazards. The greens can be fairly slopey, but the green speeds here are sensible enough that this doesn’t cause too much of a problem.
The best hole on the front 9 is the risk rewards par 5 7th. This actually has a split fairway, with some trees in the middle. The right hand side is a riskier tee shot and only leaves a heroic carry to the green, but is the shortest route. This is compared with the left side which is a lot safer, and a lot easier to lay up on.
On the back, the 12th was my favourite hole, a short par 4, with an almost island fairway, but also a driveable green. All in all, it’s a pleasant layout and a nice part of the world for a round of golf.
Woburn is without doubt an exceIlent complex with good practice facilities, the three courses and a modern practical clubhouse which I really like. Played the Marquess in September 2019 and it was in excellent condition throughout. As per other reviews it is more open than the other two courses and has a much more modern feel with modern style bunkering and mounding between the wide fairways flanked by the trees. I thought the front nine was more interesting than the back with 2, 3 , 7 and 9 good holes; hole 7 is a very unusual par 5 in that off the tee you have a choice of two fairways either side of some tress, although I think in reality for most of us the left hand side is the route to take. Hole 12 is the best hole on the course, outstanding !; only 303 yards off the whites but with an island of fairway to hit between the pond and short of the ditch in front of the green. Hole 13 is then a strong par 4 and hole 14 is the best par 3 on the course, 215 yards across a gulley. After that I found that from 15 onwards the finish was somewhat mundane with very modern style holes that reminded me very much of Bowood (Wilts), and this closing stretch did not leave me with a desire to rush back. Overall I feel the ranking of the Marquess is too high; yes the complex of Woburn is very good but I think it's a case of the 'whole being greater than the sum of its parts'.
The Marquess is comfortably the best course at Woburn. The differentiatior is that there is some space on a number of holes which gives a welcome let up from the very samey feel that the Dukes and Duchess have. The par 5, 7th is a truly majestic hole which actually was worth the green fee itself
Great day on a course that must over time rise up your rankings... some memorable holes although perhaps one or two a bit 'samey'. The clubhouse does feel a bit 'corporate' but all in all, well worth the effort to play at Woburn.
I would say this is one of those courses that was spoiled by its reputation for me. I had an invite 6 months prior to going and was well excited to play this legendary course. Well I am afraid I was mightily disappointed. For me its too samey and I honestly could only remember 2 holes within a week of playing it. If tree lined all looking the same is your thing then it is a fine course, but for me I was just bored playing fairly straight tree lined holes time after time. Condition was great as you would expect and I may be missing something,but I am afraid it didn't reach anywhere close to its reputation for me. Its a good course but certainly not worthy of its place as one of the best.
My most recent visit to this popular golfing venue occurred in July 2017 when I revisited the Duke's and also saw the Marquess for the first time. Yet again I wasn’t disappointed.
In my opinion the Marquess just takes the top honours as the best course on the Woburn Estate, but it's a points decision.
The standout holes, arguably the best on the entire property, are the third, seventh, ninth and 13th. Each features a tantalising approach shot to superb green location. The par-five seventh also has the added factor that you can choose one of two fairways to drive down; one gives you a shot at the green in two but is riskier.
A word should also be given to the 12th with its island fairway which is not easy to find into a head-wind. Down the breeze bigger hitters will have the option of going for the green but with water edging up the right-hand-side this is a high tariff shot.
The main thing I didn't like about the course is that the undergrowth in the trees, mostly bracken and fern, is horrendous. A wayward drive is not only punished by being in the trees but you have virtually no way of hitting the ball should you even find it. Clearing this out would make it much more playable, encourage riskier tee-shots and speed up play.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.