Review for Woodbridge (Heath)

Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Review:

Don’t judge this book by its cover as behind the architecturally dreadful 1960s clubhouse is one of heathland golf’s true hidden treasures. For starters, the ground conditions must be the envy of courses for miles around. Woodbridge is laid across some outstanding sandy turf that’s a joy to hit from making this a remarkable Winter course. Considering that this has been one of the wettest periods on record for the UK, the course was bone-dry and I was informed by some proud members in the group behind us that the course never shuts for frost and the greens are always in play.


The club has employed course designer Martin Hawtree and taken the brave but rewarding step to undertake large scale tree clearance to allow the heathland to regenerate, returning the course back to its origins and it’s already coming on a treat. Sand has also been replaced in all of the bunkers over Winter, some of which have been rebuilt.


The front nine of the course as a whole is Woodbridge (Heath) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer good without being outstanding. Scoring chances present themselves through the first few holes via a combination of short par fours and an uphill par five, whilst doglegs, cross bunkers and smatterings of gorse keep you on your toes through the next few holes. The opening nine ends on a high though as a medium length par three from an elevated tee plays towards a green encircled by bunkers, reminiscent of the 13th at Worplesdon.


However, it’s the returning nine that is the reason to visit Woodbridge as the terrain takes on more interest and rolls through some gorgeous heathy land. The holes have some delightful names too; Lion’s Den, the 11th, plays through a dip with a mid fairway marker-post reminding me of the Cairngorms gem that is Boat of Garten. 13, The Ditch, is the doppelganger of the 14th at Broadstone as you play to a steadily rising fairway before yet more cross bunkers impede your journey and need to be negotiated on your approach to the green. As others before me have said, 14, St Andrews Hill is the star of the show. This is a downhill curving par four to a two-tiered green embedded into the side of a hill and stands up to some of the best heathland holes I’ve played. After playing another lovely par three, the 16th fairway crosses back over the 14th before 17 and 18 play parallel to one another across another large depression, 18 being a charming finishing hole with a sharp dogleg playing semi-blind around an incline.


Even with the course improvements that are ongoing, I still think the course has more potential. For example, 17 would benefit from some major bunker reconstruction around the green. Extending the right-hand side bunker so it sits more square-on to the approaching golfer would make the second shot to this green more attractive whilst simultaneously introducing a fierce, deep hazard that allows for a little jeopardy toward the end of the round. Hopefully the club’s investment continues.


Wrapping up my round, there was an overriding sense of joy that I got from completing my eighteen holes on the Heath course that I haven’t had when playing some more high profile clubs. It’s the ideal Winter course, but I may have to pay a return visit when the heather is in flower towards the end of Summer and all of the upgrades have had time to fully bed-in. Once it fulfils its obvious potential, I’d like to think Woodbridge will start to get more attention from those travelling from further afield.

Date: February 19, 2020


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