Worplesdon Golf Club is one of Surrey’s prettiest heath and heather courses and it’s arguably the best of the trinity of “Ws” (West Hill and Woking being the other two); all three courses virtually border each other. John Abercromby’s inaugural design dates back to 1908; greens and bunkers were constructed by Willie Park Junior.
It’s not a long course at just less than 6,500 yards, but it’s sufficiently challenging for most and driving accuracy is far more important than length. The front nine plays across near-perfect undulating terrain, so expect some awkward stances. The back nine, however, is sited on relatively even ground, but take care at the greens as they are often fast with subtle borrows and interesting undulations.
Every autumn since 1921, the celebrated Mixed Foursomes competition takes place at Worplesdon. Joyce Wethered won this event no fewer than eight times between 1922 and 1933, with seven different partners. Bernard Darwin lists Joyce’s victorious partners in his book, Golf Between Two Wars: “Mr Roger Wethered, Mr Tolley (twice), Mr J.S.F. Morrison, Mr Michael Scott, Mr R.H. Oppenheimer, Mr T. Coke and an elderly gentleman whose name for the moment escapes me”. In 1933, Darwin (aged 57) partnered with Wethered and won!
The 500 World’s Greatest Golf Holes features the 11th, a 520-yard par five: “Surrounded by brilliant heathland, this interesting hole has seen its challenges change with the times, but its supreme strategic character remains.” The par threes at Worplesdon are especially strong and the 175-yard 13th is an absolute cracker, surrounded by bunkers and often regarded as one of the best par threes in the UK.
It’s a real privilege to play this quiet and elegant course. The springy fairways roll gently up and down, flanked by many mature trees. The profusion of heather provides stunning seasonal colour and a real challenge in finding the wayward golf ball. The clubhouse is one of the most pleasant in all the land and very welcoming.
Lobb & Partners completed a multi-year renovation programme at Worplesdon in 2021. The final phase included the reinstallation of heather on bunkers, and the restoration of the necklace/horseshoe bunker on the famous par three 13th hole.
“We have had a lot of joy and satisfaction working at Worplesdon,” said Tim Lobb, “Obviously it is local to us, but also it has been a great opportunity to spend three years working on such a well-planned project with a very forward-thinking club. The landscape restoration element of the work, which is something I am very passionate about, has really been embraced by the club, which is very focused on its vision… We are really proud of what has been done, and we're looking forward to finishing with a bang.”
“And so farewell to Worplesdon,” wrote Darwin, “but not I hope for long. If I can once again see the dahlias in the garden by the side of the fifteenth fairway and once again read The Moonstone under the kind roof which has so often sheltered me, I shall be almost perfectly happy.”
Worplesdon has had a much-needed makeover. Many of the bunkers have been renovated, repositioned, and reappointed. Not only that, but the approaches to them have also been purposefully shaped to gather errant shots. Subtle, and exquisite in execution.
Some of the finest heathland par 3’s, 4’s and 5’s in the world can be found here. Worplesdon is no longer the weaker of the lauded three W’s. You would be hard pressed to pick a favourite now.
The conditioning of the course today is as good as it could ever be. The timeless elegance of the routing remains. The challenges are achingly pretty, varied and inviting. I genuinely used every club in my bag.
We enjoyed a very warm welcome and some super food too.
Which one is my favourite W? That’s like picking your favourite child, or deciding between a Rib Eye, Sirloin, or a Fillet.
I’ll suggest you go for Worpleking Hill and play them all.
I was lucky enough to play here with an Elegio Golf member on 16th October. It’s been a strange year due to the COVID pandemic and the usual bar and dining areas were closed. This is a traditional golf club and they charge a premium to play here, but you can see why. Course conditioning was excellent and greens were slick for the time of year. I didn’t play my best golf, which was a shame, but I’d recommend you play here. The usual green fee rate is looking expensive, but that seems to be the way with many courses now. However, you will experience a well designed course, with wonderful vistas and slippery greens, all maintained to the highest standards.
Worplesdon is a beautifully presented course with a nice variety of holes. The par 3s stand out, in particular the 10th and 13th. Whilst it’s near neighbour West Hill has more striking scenery the overall routing felt less congested at Worplesdon giving more of a felling of space. Well worth it’s place in the top 100.
I know that I played for Radley College in a school fixture here. However, I cannot for the life of me remember who the opposition was.
The course makes up one of the ‘Three W’s’ (the others West Hill and Woking) and is arguably the best on the three. This is a beautiful corner of surrey and I remember the course being truly beautiful. The clubhouse is small and traditional and the locker rooms equally so.
The course is set amongst glorious heather, chestnut and pine trees. As with many courses in Surrey, the tall pines make for a truly peaceful round. The grounds at Worplesdon are quiet and elegant.
I hope I can play again once more.
I played 36 @ Worplesdon in a society on a glorious summers day in 2019. The course was in terrific condition and playing firm and fast. There is a great contrast of holes throughout the course and it was in pristine condition. The lunch was really good and it was hard not to eat too much before the 2nd round! The club house has the charm expected of such a course in the area.
The opening 3 holes are reasonable par 4's and set the tone for the course - easily scoreable but punishable if you get out of position or miss the green on the wrong side.
I loved the par 3 4th hole, playing up hill to a flat green, The first of magnificent par 3's at Worplesdon.
6th is a reachable par 5, however going long could make for a difficult up and down.
8th is a birdie hole, particulalry if the pin is on the front.
10, 11, 12 and 13 are fantastic and I really loved these holes. Unfortunately you have to cross the road in between but that is a small price to pay. I played them differently each time (a given with my handicap of 14!). The 13th is an amazing par 3.
The 18th is a really tough finish. A good drive needed to set up approach into the plateau'd green with bunkers right and run offs left and behind (into the OB!).
Thoroughly enjoyed, my highest ranked of the 3 W's.
You arrive at Worplesdon and look down over the first four holes. Immediately it looks like an incredible place for golf. That is the more boring part of the property!
Rather than a hole-by-hole, I'll try and state a few things I've not read below. I was really impressed by the greens. Quite a few have steep tiers and shelves, so you can take on the pin, leave yourself in trouble, or play safe to the front and attempt a two-putt. It's an archetypal course for steady bogeys, or going for birdies and finding doubles.
I don’t think it’s the prettiest of the 3 Ws, but it has the most rugged areas. Parts of the back look more Walton Heath than Woking, I’d love to see it with the heather blooming. The heather isn’t often in play though, there’s often room from the tee so you don’t spend much time looking for balls. It’s also an easy walk, with rolling slopes rather than anything severe.
Strategy-wise it’s top notch. On the 2nd should you leave your tee shot on a side-slope, or play to the flatter right and risk tree branches ruining your approach? On 17 you can play left, safe from the bunkers but bringing tree limbs into play. All the way around you are faced with such choices. I’m very happy I played 36 there, it certainly helps knowing where not to miss.
Of the Ws, I’d put Worplesdon very slightly behind Woking, but unlike its neighbour I didn’t feel like I was on egg shells. It’s a club I would visit as much as possible if I lived more local.
Worplesdon is a heathland course in the heart of Surrey that forms part of the 3 W's (West Hill and Woking being the other 2 ) that I've been fortunate to play a few times. It's comprised of a good variation of holes, nicely presented, varying difficulty with a strong finishing stretch that could make or break your round. For me this is a fair course always a delight to play and great value.
We played Worplesdon in mid November on a very fresh day (1 degree when we teed off at 11). Despite this the course was in excellent condition - although there was quite a bit of extensive work being done on that particular day. New bunkers were being put in on some holes and the 10th hole (arguably the prettiest hole) was closed so we were only able to play 17. The greens were in superb condition though considering the time of year and the climate.
The work aside, Worplesdon is a terrific golf course that is a stern test off the whites (particularly the back nine). There are dramatic changes in elevation and lots of dog legs that require careful thought and club selection. The par fives are all good risk/reward type holes - they are long, but reachable.
There is a lot of bracken, although its not as penal as one of the other well known Surrey golf institutions - so you can play out of it. This gives the course a beautiful colour and helps define the holes.
I would rate Worplesdon as one of Surrey's top courses of its kind. The first hole is reminiscent of Swinley Forest or Sunningdale. The club house has no frills - its decidedly old school.
Its a super place to play golf - although if you're thinking of playing in the winter you may want to call ahead and check that all the holes are open!
Nice review Adam, but I think you may be confusing bracken with heather? You're very fortunate to find your ball in bracken, and even if you do, your chances of getting solid contact when you try and play out of it are pretty slim.
I really enjoyed Worplesdon, other than the terror of having to cross that busy road while hoping a driver is not experiencing "road rage" at the time.
While the start is somewhat easy, the first reminded me slightly of the great second hole at Pine Valley.
I liked every one of the par three's as there were so much fun to play with some really interesting greens.
The back to back par fives have a good amount of strategy to them to make up for their relatively short length. The 14th, the number one index on the course, is a difficult hole although like most holes at Worplesdon, its index of holes would not be rated as highly on other nearby courses.
Overall the course lacks length due to the modern game, but Worplesdon makes that up with its beauty and the pure joy of playing it. I found it to be a delight and one worth playing several times.
The county of Surrey is blessed with so many excellent heathland courses that locals are truly spoilt for choice. The opening stretch introduces you to the rolling topography and the need to be careful off the tee as driver is not always needed. I learned that the hard way on the downhill dog-leg 3rd hole.
Most holes on the front nine play into good angles and offer plenty of opportunities to score well. The course is pleasant and gets stronger as you progress to the second half, especially the par 5 11th and the awe-inspiring par 3 13th which will grab your attention with the bunker design. The course is a nice walk in a charming setting.