Woodbridge Golf Club is located a mere five minutes away from the beautiful market town, with its quaint Georgian shops and pubs. The golf club’s flagship, 18-hole heathland course, known simply as Heath, is well renowned, but taken alongside its cracking 9-holer called Forest, Woodbridge really is a delightful place to spend a day playing golf.
Founded in 1893, the formation of Woodbridge Golf Club was entirely due to Major Howey, who originally laid out six holes on parkland in front of his house. Intent on creating a first class course, the Major enlisted Davie Grant – the famous North Berwick professional – to find suitable land. Bromeswell Heath was eventually identified and the club moved to the heath. In 1908 a certain Mr Fryer redesigned the course and, some twenty years later, James Braid stepped in to reshape Woodbridge. Subsequently Fred Hawtree made further modifications to the layout.
“The best course in Suffolk today is, I think, an inland one, Woodbridge, though I say this with diffidence and with great respect for its friendly rival, Aldeburgh, which is likewise excellent.” Wrote Bernard Darwin in The Golf Courses of Great Britain. “Woodbridge has everything in the world that one could desire except the sea. It has sand and bracken and gorse, beautiful turf and the smoothest of greens. There is a delightful feeling of being on a hill-top, there is a fine big view, and there is peace and quiet and rusticity.”
Measuring 6,299 yards from the medal tees, the Heath course is not long, but the golf is truly engaging. There isn’t a single poor hole on the course; many are excellent, varied and entertaining. Make your score on the front nine where there are two par fives, the back nine is a tough prospect with four par fours measuring in excess of 400 yards. The 14th, called “St Andrews Hill”, is one of our favourite two-shotters with its well-guarded two-tiered green. The 15th is a cracking one-shot hole which requires a well struck mid iron to reach the sanctuary of the elevated green which is jealously protected by six bunkers.
The more I play in Suffolk the more impressed I become by the quality of courses available in this often underrated county.
Woodbridge is yet another nail in the coffin confirming just how good this area is when it comes to superb inland golf. Like many of its neighbours Woodbridge has firm and fast ground conditions that promote the running game and where a wealth of gorse and heather thrive.
But here there is a more intimate feel to the venue as it wends its way over moderately undulating terrain through tree and whin-lined fairways. It’s more than possible to entirely lose your sense of direction on this secluded and tranquil parcel of land; prime real estate for good golf.
There is a fantastic variety of holes at Woodbridge where accuracy and strategy will prevail over length. The springy yet firm turf is also a delight to hit from.
The best hole of the 18, however, can be found at the 14th; St. Andrews Hill. This majestic two-shotter oozes quality from the tee, as it descends left-to-right downhill, before the fairway begins to rise just before the perfectly located two-tiered green which is an absolute joy to play towards. It is followed immediately by the excellent “Punch Bowl” par-three which is well defended by sand and gorse.
I didn’t get chance to play the nine-hole Forest course, that accompanies the main Heath layout, on my first visit to this charming golf club but I am informed it is very good also and Woodbridge would therefore make an excellent venue to enjoy a full days golf.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
I played Woodbridge again on our annual Suffolk trip in October and I love it. For me it’s more interesting than Aldebugh. Woodbridge has variety and style with a couple of great P3’s at #9 and #15, it’s also go a bit more elevation and quirk which I love. That said, Suffolk does have some good courses and Woodbridge is underrated.