Worplesdon Golf Club is one of the prettiest and most delightful of Surrey’s many 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. It is set amongst glorious heather, chestnut and pine trees. John Abercromby’s inaugural design dates back to 1908; greens and bunkers were constructed by Willie Park Junior. Little has changed after more than 100 years.
It’s not a long course at just less than 6,500 yards, but it’s supremely challenging and driving accuracy is far more important than length. The front nine plays across stunning undulating terrain, so expect some awkward stances. The back nine is sited on relatively even ground. The greens are always in fabulous condition and are lightning fast with some subtle borrows and 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!
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.
“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.”
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.
Worplesdon is another beautiful heathland course found in surrey. In my opinion it starts off slow with holes 1-4 being very average, however from hole 5 onwards it is stunning and looks beautiful. A few favourites of mine on the course would be Hole 5, a long par 4 with heather all the way down the right side, Hole 9, a lovely short par 3 going over the water, and the entirety of the back 9 for me being beautiful filled with challenges for you to take on. The facilities are not amazing with there being a small range where you need your own golf balls however they have two putting greens which means there will always be plenty of room for you to practice your putting. Overall Worplesdon is a great heathland course with the back 9 really coming to life and having many beautiful holes.
Range is 240 yards long up hill so it can accomodate most shots and there are now free top grade balls to practice with - just have to ask for a token
this is so under rated, this is a brilliant course with some fun easier holes and some really challenging making an extremely fun experience that i'm definitely coming back to!
Worplesdon was the missing piece in my 3W jigsaw, so obvious comparisons were made during the round with nearby Woking and West Hill. One immediate area where Worplesdon holds the upper hand over its neighbours is the wonderful view from the clubhouse. A beautiful morning taking in breakfast from the patio whilst overlooking the course was the ideal way to start the day.
The clubhouse overlooks the first few holes and whilst it’s lovely to view from afar, it wasn’t until the 4th where I felt the course started to shine; an uphill par three played in front of the clubhouse that brings a close to the opening loop. The remainder of the front nine generally had a good flow, the 8th with its murderous two-tiered green and the 9th, a beautiful medium length dogleg of a par four probably being my highlights of the first half.
The 10th is a pretty hole and often marketed as the course’s signature, but I’m yet to be convinced by large amounts of water on a heathland layout, I had similar feelings about the pond in front of the 16th at Woking. But again we have another exceptional green on this hole with some great undulations to keep you guessing as the green slopes towards the water. Then comes the wander across the road, introducing you to probably the best stretch of land across the course. There is an element of taking your life into your hands as cars speed around the bend, but the crossing is worth it. Whilst the short, 173 yard 13th gets many accolades with a green that emerges above the ground, and the sand that surrounds it like a moat, the 12th was my personal pick. The 12th is a par five that’s reachable in two but has the narrowest of entry points to the green with mounding and a bunker to the left and another large bunker guarding two thirds of the green from the other side.
Onto the final stretch and the 16th reminded me of the same numbered hole at Hankley Common. It’s only a short hole but plays straight uphill over heathery bunkered humps and completes the set of fine par threes at Worplesdon. The bunkering on the 18th provides character to a quality closing hole where a well positioned tee shot would then suit a soft fade into the green to take the sand out of play. Sandwiched in between these holes is another magical green on 17, again two-tiered providing complexity to the approach shot, particularly if the pin is located on the front edge of the upper tier as it was when I played the course.
Generally, the condition across the fairways and greens is excellent, but the bunkers were sadly a bit of a let-down. Some courses in the area are undertaking bunker refurbishment so Worplesdon seems behind the curve here. The sand is full of stones and in need of some love and attention. It does look like they’ve already refurbished the bunkers around the green on 18, so there may be an upgrade programme already planned?
I’ve only given Worplesdon a 4-ball rating which may seem a little harsh. It's very close to a 5-ball course for me, and I'd rate the course as equal to the likes of Royal Ashdown Forest and Sherwood Forest in terms of quality which I’ve also given 4-ball ratings, so I’ll try and be consistent. However, if those bunkers were upgraded, the course would be a shoe-in for a higher rating but it’s also for that reason that my vote on the best of the 3Ws goes to Woking. Having said that, I hear plenty of tree-clearance has been carried out in recent times at West Hill, so I must head back there before I formally nail my colours to the mast.
Worplesdon was the morning course on a 36 day tour of two of the "W's", with a round at West Hill in the afternoon and the challenge of Woking two days later. My wife Ruth and I met and played with top 100 editor in chief Keith Baxter and editor Jim McCann. We were just off a round at The Addington the day before, and I was interested to see the difference in the two J.H. Abercromby designs.
Worplesdon has a lovely classic heathland with is an entirely different look and feel from the Addington, but in both cases Abercromby made excellent use of the terrain and contours of the land. The course does not have many severe slopes, but it is rarely flat at any point along it's routing. I think this is one of the most wonderfully strategic courses I have ever played. One of my early favorites comes early on at the par 4 third. The hole is slightly downhill and only 387 yards from the white tee. A diagonal cross bunker lies about 285 off the tee, but it can quickly come into play for many golfers when played down wind and with the fast running conditions we encountered. A properly placed tee shot left and short of the bunker opens up the green, which is guarded by two bunkers to the right and a significant right to left slope funneling to the left side bunkers. The approach shot has to properly gauge the run and the slope and really has to come perilously close to the right bunkers to have any chance of finishing near most pin positions. 5 is another great hole, with the dog leg right covered by a mass of heather daring the player to bite off as much as possible. A fairway bunker is off the left near the landing area for most players. The bold drive to the right opens up the approach to the green with a large swale in front as well. This may be the most difficult hole on the course. 10 is a beautiful short par 3 over a pond, and then comes the crossing across a busy road to 11 through 14, a collection of 4 outstanding holes. 11 is a fine strategic par 5 with well placed bunkers and slopes that require a clear plan and steady play to negotiate. I hit two solid shots to wind up about 40 yards short of the green in two. Keith was about 10 yards behind me and used his putter! Not be to outdone I putted as well and I was able to negotiate the shot to within 10 feet of the hole and secure a birdie. This may have been my favorite shot of my 9 day trip.
13 is a great par three with a long narrow green and difficult bunkering as well. I enjoyed the par 4 17 where the green has a steep front slope that demanded a precise approach to get anywhere close to the pin.
This course was tremendous fun. No two holes were alike and each hole presented a unique challenge. The greens had a variety of slopes and contours and like the holes in general each green offered it's own challenge. What a great course to play as a member since every round would likely offer up something new and exciting. My wife Ruth enjoyed the natural beauty of the course but struggled some with the forced carries over the heather on her tee shots. There was something about this course which reminded my of West Sussex in Pulborough, which is high praise from me. Read my story: Diamonds of the heather - golfing London's heathland