I think Woking is underrated. At 27th in England, to me this seems too low. A ranking of around 15 to 20 is about right. The course is an architectural masterpiece, filled with exciting holes and a cracking front nine especially (although the back nine compared pretty well). While this review talks about the course only, I should say the clubhouse is a beautiful old building and the terrace is just lovely, a place to relax after a quick 18.
Hole 1 is a decent risk reward hole. At only 272 yards it is short, but it is challenging to hold the green sloping entirely from front to back.
I like hole 2. It is a classic par three of 211 yards over a valley with a giant tree short and left. The shortest bunker doesn't come into play so much, but for me was a hazard as I only hit driver 165 yards.
Hole 3 is a fantastic par four of 410 yards uphill. It bends to the right ever so slightly. The bunker in front of the green is a challenging hazard. The green in itself is hardly easy, sloping heavily from back to front.
At 318 yards, the fourth isn't the toughest hole but the famous double bunker down the middle has prominence. The fairway narrows towards the green. A classic risk reward hole.
The fifth is one of my favourite holes on the course, 355 yards uphill to a huge green. Visually this hole is beautiful, framed by pines and a hillside behind the green. Pin position is key here and at 47 yards deep, the green houses a lot of pin positions!
Hole 6 is magnificent, 390 yards downhill from an elevated tee. The heather frames the fairway beautifully. The fairway bunkers 220 yards really pinch the fairway. You then cross a burn to a large green sloping from back to front.
The seventh is a charming little par three of 157 yards with pinching bunkers and a fall off area long. You have to hit the green here. I think this is actually a good, pretty hole.
Woking's finest moment is the 420 yard 8th hole, playing uphill and bending to the right. The four bunkers really complicate the approach shot, but the main interest to this hole for me is the variation in pin positions, with the toughest being back right over the bunkers.
The 9th is the longest par four at 433 yards, and for me was the weakest hole. Not because it is a bad hole, but it has less strategic merits. It bends sharply to the left and climbs uphill to a long, narrow green.
At 150 yards, the tenth is the second shortest of the par threes. It is tough to attack here, and requires a fade as everything slopes to the left. The two bunkers make this hole difficult.
The 11th is a strong 377 yard par four and exposes the open heathland sections of this course. It sweeps round to the right. The corner can be cut a little bit here. Everything on the green slopes back to front.
The 12th is the finest of the three par fours from 11 to 13. It looks so simple, and a long drive will chase down the hill, but it is tough for 385 yards with three bunkers short and a severely sloping green from left to right.
I think 13 is one of the toughest holes at Woking, 423 yards uphill into the pine trees. The bunker short and right of the green has a lot more presence than you would expect. This is a picturesque hole.
14 is the best of the two par fives, and at 525 yards is the longer of them. From the tee it looks simple, and the three bunkers can easily be avoided, but the green complex just two yards in front of the terrace is one of the course's most interesting, with everything sloping from back to front and right to left.
The 15th is the other par five, 501 yards uphill with a large swathe of heather on the left. Just the one bunker here to avoid. The hole has another interesting green complex with two halves sloping in opposite directions.
My favourite par three is the sixteenth, 144 yards over a lake to an incredibly complex green complex. Three bunkers pinch the green left and right, and there is another one short. The green has multiple ridges.
17 is a good par four of 418 yards down the hill with a more simple design. Just the two bunkers to worry about here, and the green slopes from front to back. A classic hole lined by tall pines.
Some say the 18th is a twitchy and awkward hole but I really like it. It's a par four of 328 yards with a pond on the left very close to the green. It can be driven, but with water, bunkers short, a green sloping towards the water and a clubhouse to the left it isn't worth the risk.
My round was very enjoyable and the course was impeccable, and the course conditioning was immaculate with beautiful turf on the fairways, smooth and flat tee boxes, great bunkers and immaculate and lightning quick greens. A must play, worth every penny of its £125. I should say as well the welcome was so friendly and everyone at the club was so welcoming, unlike the stuff other people have said (not necessarily on this website). A delightful place to play golf.
Excellent course and very difficult on a wet English day. Play 36 holes in the day and walked with the bag so was extremely tired. It is a long course with some neat intricate shorter holes to test you also. You dont need to be a big hitter to enjoy the course.
One of my favourite inland courses, Woking is a lovely heathland track just southwest of London. The opener is a classic ‘gentle hadnshake’ from the course easing you into your round. The 3rd has an extremely fun but tough approach that I enjoyed.
The 4th is probably the most famous hole here, fully showcasing the strategy that this course requires, with a centreline bunker leaving the player with some decisions to make. I also think the level of challenge here is another defining quality. The 9th for example, is a tough, long par 4, but it’s bunker less, meaning its playable, and a sign of a course that knows when to push or not with its design.
The 14th plays right up to the clubhouse, and similar to the 18th at Blackwell it’s only natural for the player to have nightmares about thinning a wedge through a window! The closing stretch of 16-18 is also strong, and leaves you wanting more. Overall, an enjoyable, interesting place for a walk.
Woking is a lovely course with some of my favourite all time holes. It is a great old fashioned heathland course with tons and tons of charm.
I was perhaps a little underwhelmed given some of the reviews I had seen before playing but I would still highly recommend this course to any serious golf enthusiast. My slight disappointment may have been partly due to the terrible state of some of the fairways when I played (I played in mid April 2018 after a difficult Winter) so I’m looking forward to getting back when the course is in its usual pristine condition.
The weak holes in my opinion - 9 and 10 which seem out of character with the rest of the course. 1 is often touted as a poor opener but I quite enjoyed the quirkiness of it.
Favourite holes - 5 is great and the start of the real heathland holes in my opinion. 6 is the best hole on the course. Absolutely stunning drive from an elevated tee.
7 is a lovely little par 3 with a great green that seems to move in every direction. 8 is another hole that I absolutely loved. A brilliant uphill par 4 with heather on both sides of the fairway. The huge undulating green is surrounded by bunkers such that a solid long iron/fairway wood is needed to make this green in regulation.
I felt that 11, 12 and 13 were all great holes and 14 is great fun (unless you have a tendency to thin your sand wedge - the clubhouse window could take a pounding!). The final four holes are all good (16 is a lovely par 3 in particular).
Overall, a stunning course and I can’t wait to get back and see it at its best.
Woking was the last of the ‘3 W’s’, having played Worplesdon and West Hill earlier this year.
The course is in excellent condition, particularly the greens: firm, fast and true. Surprising given the time of year and the amount of wet weather we’ve had throughout December. Pretty impressive.
The course opens with a gentle 280ish yard par 4, but then moves into a great mix of long and short holes, playing through charming heather and pine, with some testing elevation changes.
The bunkering is superb, giving both the classic Surrey heathland aesthetic that many of us love and, more importantly, strategic challenge off the tee.
Personal favourites were the 4th, 6th and 14th holes with the only weak hole (IMO) being the par 3 10th.
Although not my favourite ‘W’, it’s a great course and thoroughly enjoyable day out.
Played the course with very high expectations and it delivered on all fronts. We worth a visit with accuracy and length needed off the tee to avoid the dreaded heather! The greens are a real test as well....
I played this course yesterday (Monday 7th October) and it is the final of the 3 W's I have played. The club has a wonderful feel to it, with charm and charisma expected of a course of its standing. The tees and greens were in brilliant condition given the rain over the past week, however the same cannot be said for the fairways. They were rather wet! I echo other reviews in saying that whilst this is a very good course, some of the holes are disappointingly simple/lack character (1, 3, 9, 10, 15) but to name a few. The best hole is the par 3 16th. A stunning hole with a fantastic green. I enjoyed my round but would rate this bottom of the 3 W's as follows: Worplesdon, West Hill, Woking
Glad to learn that you enjoyed your round of golf but surprised that you found some of the holes to be simple and lacking in character. The 3rd is a tremendous par4 requiring two very well struck shots to a majestic 2 tier green which challenge's the very best. Can be a subjective assessment at times, but Woking is famous for the complexities of its Greens which are considered to be peerless.You must try it again next summer in drier conditions!
Woking receives many accolades, particularly from architects as well as some locals to the London area. And there are some architectural features that are very cool such as on the fourth hole.
Yet of all the golf courses I have played, I found Woking to be the one that did not meet the expectations of its reputation. For me it was a relatively straightforward golf course not requiring a lot of thinking on the tee or with one's second shot.
The greens are excellent as is noted in the other reviews and I believe that is the strength of the golf course. Obviously it is too short for the long hitter who is near scratch; they would not improve their game by playing here.
This is a course I have only played once, which is a rarity for me. I do want to play it again to see what I might have missed.
Is it worth playing? Absolutely if you are in the area. But I would certainly agree with others who would put the two at Walton Heath/Sunningdale/The Berkshire/Wentworth (2 of 3), Swinley Forest, Worplesdon, and New Zealand ahead of it.
I totally agree. Where this architectural genius of the place is which so many refer to is lost on me.
I think that Woking is a very pleasant track with a nice heathland feel to it and a some very nice holes. The 8th is a marvellous hole, and the 6th is good, as is I think also the 13th, and the fourth is a wonderful piece of architecture making something interesting out of something which would otherwise be bland - it is the definition of minimalism and it feels like the bunker is in exactly the right place. This is no fault of the place but I do not agree by how highly it gets rated by some people. For instance the most recent Architects top 100 had it placed I think above the likes of The Berkshire Red, Saunton East, Royal Cinque Ports and Wentworth West, and I am afraid I think this is very wide of the mark. How you can rank this as being superior to The Berkshire Red for instance I find unbelievable. Not only is the latter on infinitely more pretty undulating terrain, but has no weak hole whereas I would argue at Woking that 1, 18, 9 are not great holes and 11, and 12 not the best and some of the green approaches whilst quirky are a little underwhelming such as 14, and 17. Enough of the criticism!... I think the club is extremely welcoming and their regeneration work on the course in recent year speaks of enlightened staff and management (ie Heather and tree removal). The overall feel is a good advertisement for the old English course feel that you get at the best Heathland courses and it is a nice experience and test of golf.
Jim, it seems a little odd to me that you bring up a separate Architects' Top 100 list whereas the four courses you mentioned are all better ranked courses than Woking on this website.
I personally feel that Top 100 Golf Courses ranks Woking fairly but your point raises an interesting one about architects' rankings. Whilst golf architects are probably the best informed to rank and rate golf courses, I often think that they're maybe too close to the subject matter, and their opinions of golf courses are skewed by the quality of the course strategy and architecture (which admittedly are hugely important), as opposed to what may appeal to a wider community of golfers such as land, location, conditioning and just how much fun the course is to play. Maybe a discussion for a separate thread rather than on the course review page for Woking, but food for thought all the same.
Thomas hits the nail on the club head. Being wide of the mark depends on where the mark is.
Perhaps Woking is like Exile on Main Street - the best Stones album, according to music Critics (& golf course architects). However, music Fans may have other ideas.
I hope I’m the first person to ever make this Woking/Exile comparison
Thank you for your intelligent and witty responses Thomas and BB: A good reflection of what we can be most proud of as a golfing community. I do stand by my general comment that there is a lot of bigging up of what an architectural gem Woking is, and maybe it is just me but I get the sense that there is a degree of jumping on the bandwagon. (Aside from 4 it does not seem to me architecturally exceptional but I am sure I am showing my ignorance and missing subtleties.) As you correctly point out Exile on Mainstreet may be the critics lovechild but to be fair nothing in the World Top 100 on this site reflects such excesses and indeed it seems to have the correct ranking here, and I don't want this discussion to detract from the fact that it is a lovely heathland course, and a lovely club, and I'd say a must play in the London area.
I return to the topic of the 4th hole. I was playing Royal Guernsey recently and I was thinking as I played the medium length 5th hole which has an interesting 1st shot which could end up in the gorse but is reasonably forgiving albeit a worse shot will leave a substantially harder second and realistically the green in 3... and a wonderful gentle dogleg and a raised green wonderfully framed by gorse and bunkers. And I thought this hole is WAY more interesting that Woking 4, and this is not a stand out hole... I pick it by way of example... and yet nobody ever speaks of it... and indeed I would play this course any day of the week over Woking... and it made me think how outrageously subjective/biased some of these ratings become - even when in the hands of the "panel of reviewers" and how courses which one plays a lot one grows to love and how it sort of follows that London based courses (and accessible ones such as Woking) get frankly overblown ratings. Woking 4 is a very average hole albeit with a rich history... and yet you sometimes see it in best hole in the country rankings!!!! This for me is totally absurd.
I've already stated that I'm a fan of Woking and I think that its ranking is fair, but I agree that Woking's 4th is an ordinary looking hole. I'd go as far to say that Woking is littered with much more visually appealing holes than the 4th, but Woking's 4th has historical significance, for the construction of that centre-line fairway bunker was the first recorded use of strategic bunkering.
PS If you think that Royal Guernsey is as good as you say it is, then a review wouldn't go amiss so that you bring some positive awareness to a course that's had limited attention on this website rather than it being lost amongst the comments for Woking.
This was my second round at Woking, the first four years ago in rather inclement weather really did not give me the opportunity to take in the course properly. The club has a very traditional feel to it although very relaxed and friendly. The course which is primarily a two ball course is similar in terrain to its counterpart West Hill with elevation and undulation across the course which are utilised well. Woking has some stellar holes such as 4 a short par 4 with a centre bunker some 80 yards short of the green which makes the golfer think about strategy from the tee. The 6th is an excellent par 4. Driving from an elevated tee the golfer gets a good view of this cracking hole but beware as the errant tee shot may end up with your approach entangling with the heathery brook running diagonally across the fairway short of the green. Bunkers either side of this green really frame the hole well. Holes 9 and 10 are quite weak. Hole 9 is a tough hole which requires either a very high draw that lands on a left to right fairway which throws the ball back down the hill or a layup to the dogleg which leaves a very long uphill second shot to a sloping green .The 10th a shortish par three is set along the ridge line seems a little out of character with the rest of the course. Holes 11, 12 and 13 are holes which highlight Woking’s excellent use of its terrain. The 11th requires a left to right tee shot but anything offline will be swallowed by the heather and the green which has many pin positions will test your distance control otherwise the player will face a very tricky two putt. Hole 12 again moves gently from left to right but all the fun happens at the green. It appears relatively flat from the fairway but it has plenty of movement from left to right although it sneakily rises up towards the back of the green almost creating a little bowl on the right hand side. The tee shot on 13 requires a little draw before a medium iron to this undulating green which is framed nicely by the pine trees behind it. Holes 14 and 15 both par five holes do not disappoint. The surround of the approach to the 14th green is brilliant with little swales and undulations everywhere….very unusual. Hole 17 is a very nice little par 3 with a false front which has bunkers protecting it left and right. It would have been nice if the pond was more of a feature on this hole but I am sure there is a reason behind this. I actually really like the 18th with its fairway sloping from left to right the player rarely has a flat lie to attack this green which slopes gradually from left to right pushing the ball towards the water which guards the miss hit or pushed approach shot. A day out at Woking is a real treat and I for one cannot wait to return.