- AddressWoking Golf Club, Pond Rd, Woking GU22 0JZ, UK
Woking Golf Club has a charming Old England heathland course, laid out by Tom Dunn in 1893. The club was intended to provide relief for a few golf mad barristers who were sick and tired of playing on muddy clay. We must thank Woking wholeheartedly because nobody thought that heather and gorse-strewn land was viable ground for golf and this was the first experimental heathland layout.
At the turn of the 20th century, there were only a few heathland courses around London and Bernard Darwin described them as “the stars of sand and heather”. He had a soft spot for Woking Golf Club because it’s the oldest and one of the best. He went on to say, “although my judgement may not be strictly an impartial one, I think it is still the pleasantest of all upon which to play, and the golf is undeniably interesting.” Darwin was once a mad barrister himself and also a member at Woking for more than sixty years.
Woking Golf Club is listed in the catalogue of Simpson & Company Golf Architects, but we don't know what work Tom Simpson may have carried out.
There is absolutely no doubt that Woking is located in an idyllic spot and the unusual pavilion clubhouse only adds to the charisma. This is not a championship layout by any stretch of the imagination; the course only measures 6,602 yards from the back tees. But Woking is a mature and strategic layout requiring well-positioned tee shots that must, at all costs, remain out of the heather and in play. We recommend that you leave your driver in the boot of the car to avoid any temptation.
Woking is not riddled with bunkers but those that are there are adroitly positioned. In 1900, a controversy raged when Stuart Paton dug two bunkers into the 4th fairway. The members were mortified that they might be penalised after hitting a good straight drive. Looking back at this, Woking was a pioneer in architectural terms, forcing the player to make a strategic decision, lay up short or bravely aim on the right line.
In 1926, a match involving captain Bobby Jones and the rest of the American Walker Cup team took place at Woking. The Americans were beaten 6-3 by the “Moles Golfing Society”. The British Amateur champion was captain of the Moles. Woking was also once home to the Alba Trophy, a celebrated amateur competition. These days, Woking is used to genteel peace and quiet in Surrey’s suburbia. This is definitely a course for the connoisseur. Or as Darwin said in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, "I can only end as I began by asserting that there is no more delightful course whereon to play golf."
Tim Lobb has been the consulting architect at Woking for a number of years. The par three 16th hole was redesigned in 2013 and new forward tees have since been installed on a number of holes. The club is also engaged in an ongoing heather restoration program to significantly improve the course’s environmental impact.
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Tom Dunn started his golf career as a club maker at North Berwick in 1869 and remained as the club’s professional for twelve years, employing two men and his younger brother Willie as an apprentice.