I used to glimpse Woking from the train heading towards Basingstoke and wished I was playing rather than on my way to dull meetings, I had my chance recently and the experience didn’t disappoint. Nestled in the Surrey sand belt the course carves its way through picturesque mature forest, only the noise of trains from Waterloo and jets into Farnborough disturbs the tranquillity.
Short by today’s standards with only 2 par 5’s the course relies on some spectacularly contoured greens for its defence, you really need to have your approach shots dialled in to find the right part of the greens. Find the wrong spot and you’ll end up with some monster putts, miss the greens and you can end up with some of the toughest up and downs you can imagine, long putts to save your par at best. The club has a very good practice putting green which for a change feels the same as the course greens, I advise spending 15 minutes before teeing off working on long putts, it’s a certainty you’ll have 5 or 6 very long putts at some point and it’s all too easy to 3 putt with a tiny lapse of concentration.
The course begins with a gentle par 4 before suddenly hitting you with a long par 3 needing big carry, then a succession of strong par 4’s which demand tee shots to avoid the heather to give you any chance of finding the greens in the right place. 8 & 9 being really tough, dog legs both needing big carries over the corners to have a hope of reaching in regulation. Woking isn’t long overall but there are some tough 400+ par 4’s which is where the course shows its teeth. The par 5’s feel like a break and are a good place to score albeit you still need to find the right place on the greens, the 15th green in front of the club house is a great place where you can hole a long glory putt or painfully 3 putt in front of the members enjoying their refreshments. Of the two nines the front has more interesting architecture, there is much more elevation change providing some excellent raised tee boxes and greens. The closing stretch is superb with the final hole tempting you to carry as much heather as you can to leave a wedge into the green protected by a tree and the pond. Overall just a fantastic experience, combined with excellent service it easily justifies its high ranking. As to where it sits in comparison to its close neighbours, the other two ‘w’s I don’t know. I played West Hill a couple of times many years ago and Worplesdon is still on the bucket list.
Date: July 01, 2021