Woodbrook is a truly classic golf course that has a long and storied history of hosting major tournaments. It sits on a flat piece of land with cliffs overlooking the Irish sea, and when playing it on a calm sunny day, there may be no better place to play golf and enjoy a stroll.
The course was created by Sir Stanley Cochrane, who inherited the land and fortune from his father who co-invented ginger ale. Cochrane's first love was cricket, and he initially built Woodbrook as a cricket ground, fortunately for everyone, cricket never took off here and be built the golf course instead.
Due to the flat piece of land that the course sits on, the main defense of the course is the wind, and with it being a flat piece of land sitting on cliffs over the ocean, there is no hiding from the wind when it does blow (and it often does). Most of the holes on the course play either north or south, and the wind will mostly blow to or from the north making the holes play mostly down wind or into the wind making club choice extra difficult into small and undulating greens.
The course has an unusual setup having 5 par fives, 5 par threes and 8 par fours. I particularly enjoy this layout, and it provides a welcome change from the typical golf course and really ensures that you use all the clubs in your bag.
I will detail some of my favorite holes on the course below:
1. Is a true handshake opening par 5 which is about 500 yards long. The fairway is flat and wide and the main defense of the hole is a burn running across the fairway at about 320 yards and a large mature tree in the middle of the fairway at the burn. Hitting a good drive down the middle of this fairway is not good enough, you have the find the left or right side of the fairway to give yourself a chance of hitting the green in two and making a birdie or better.
4. Four is a short par 4 that runs alongside the railway line, which is OB all up the left. The fairway has well placed and deep bunkers on the right, which forces you to take on the OB up the left. Ideally here, you take a long iron or fairway wood up the left side which will give you a great angle with a short iron to attack the two tiered green.
9. Is a magnificent short par 3 which measures 120-150 yards that faces directly at the Irish sea. The green is very shallow and raised with sharp runoffs in the front and back with deep bunkers left and right. Club selection is key here and if you are lucky enough to find the green, you will have a mostly flat putt at birdie. If you do not hit the green here, you will be happy to make a 3/4 as big numbers can happen very easily.
10. Is probably the best hole on the course. You tee off from the far corner of the property from a tee box that sits on top of the cliffs with the Irish sea all down the left hand side. Any tee shot that is turning over to the left will likely fall to its peril, and a small grouping of trees protects the right hand side of the fairway for anyone who tries to bail out. Depending on wind direction you can have anything from a wedge to a wood into one of the more interesting greens on the course, which is designed in a Biarritz fashion, although much smaller. You will always be delighted with a par on this hole.
14. As like the 10th, the 14th plays along the cliffside with the Irish sea on your left. This time you are faced with a par 5 that has cross bunkers in the landing zone of your driver and your layup. If you take on the cliffs with your drive, you will be left with an enticing second shot that allows you to attack the green with your second, if you bail out right off the tee, you will be forced with a very tough layup. The green here sits very close to the cliff's edge and is and interesting to tier green with the back tier being a foot or two lower than the front tier with everything running towards the back. A truly classic risk reward par 5 that brings all numbers into play.
18. Is a classic closing hole that can bring anything from birdies to large numbers into play. After crossing back under the railway line, you tee off right next to it. It is important to ensure you time your tee shot to when the trains aren't passing as you have the railway all up the right side which is OB and the driving range to the left which is also OB. The fairway is very flat and wide here and the only thing to avoid is a small centerline pot bunker. If you navigate the pot bunker, you will be left with a short iron into a three tiered green (almost in the design of a double plateau) that is heavily guarded by bunkers. Find the right section of the green and you will have a great opportunity at birdie.
Date: May 12, 2021