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.”
The trilogy of the 3 W’s now complete, I still don’t think choosing 1 as the best of the 3 W’s is fair. I would need to play Woking again to make an informed decision as I played that a while ago!
Played Worplesdon with old friends visiting the country and had a ripper of a day. 26 degrees and sunny, felt like I was back in Australia.
The course with the recent heatwave is parched in many areas, to be expected, which no doubt takes away a few of the visual treats/fairway cuts, but the heather was still gently blooming and the green surrounds looking pure, the greens a little slow but probably being cut higher to prevent them burning in the heat. Tee boxes, some need a little levelling out, but the way they were cut was sheer golf porn!
The course. Much like I find a lot in England, the par 3’s are often the stand out holes.
As for the par 4’s, a criticism of Worplesdon is that they all are seemingly the same length at around 400y. What I would say about these par 4’s, despite being similar in length, it never felt repetitive, as the course makes you choose different clubs off the tee, leaving different yardages in. Only 1 long par 4 (which these days isn’t even long for a better player) and no driveable ones.
The par 5’s at Worplesdon are member friendly, and would get eaten alive by top golfers. The only one which really presents genuine danger is 15. Having said that, they are all a lot of fun and have interesting quirks.
Best holes for me, 1 is the perfect opening hole. It’s gentle but beautiful. Take whatever club you want off the tee really, it’s a wide fairway from an elevated tee.
5 is a risk reward par 4, where a long iron followed by a mid iron can secure a par fairly safely, but taking the corner on a touch can leave a much easier approach.
6 is a very short par 5 but very well protected off the tee by bunkers, and then the approach to the green plays downhill to a front to back sloping green, an example of it being too short for a modern day par 5, but has some great quirks that once you’ve played it a few times, are fair and challenging in equal measure. There would not be many eagles to a front pin here!
9 and 10 are secluded in a pine forest and both so pretty. 8 has water right and OB left, an accurate tee shot is crucial! Achieve that and a birdie chance awaits. As for 9, a short par 3 over water that isn’t really in play, to a 3 tiered monster green. A great example of a short par 3 still having plenty of defences.
I read in the bio of the course on this site that 11 is a highly rated par 5. For me it is the weakest on the course. The drive is very wide, and the hole is short, and there’s not too much to trip you up at greenside where as the other 5’s all have some quirks. Just don’t go too far left on 11 and you’ll probably have a good look at birdie.
12 is a great par 5 with excellently placed fairway bunkers, and the green is built into a hill, framing the hole very nicely.
13 is my favourite par 3 on the course, a beautiful hole with a cavernous bunker guarding the front section of the green. Just a pretty golf hole. Don’t go long or you’ll be making bogey everytime!
15 is a brilliant risk reward par 5, take driver and you must flirt with a very close OB to the right, and a cheeky little creek that starts around the 270y mark from the tee. For the low handicapped golfer, a 2i followed by a 3i will leave you with an excellent chance to pick up a shot. A simple 3 shotter for the mid handicap golfer - but what Worplesdon does is make the better golfer think. The course shouldn’t be overpowered, or it will bite you!
Overall, the 3 W’s are all 4.5 balls. All are beautiful members courses that you absolutely should play, as they are just so enjoyable without being too difficult. But they are difficult enough for any readers of this site I assure you!
Pictured: P3 13th Hole
Worplesdon was the highest ranked track we played during a week of heathland golf, mainly in and around Bournemouth and in my book it was head and shoulders above all the five courses we played there (Broadstone, Parkstone, Ferndown, Purbeck and Stoneham).
In fact, the reaction of my wife when she spotted a "For Sale" sign on a property adjacent to the course: "Let's buy and try to become members here!" sums up what we both felt about the course.
I have played West Hill and Woking before and although it is difficult to compare when not playing them in succession, my clear preference is for Worplesdon, mainly because it had fewer of the vices that tripped me up as a first-time visitor to Woking and I cannot recall anything at West Hill which is close to the majestic feel of the section across the road (holes 11-14 if my memory does not fail me).
Played Mid Feb and the course was in amazing condition. Tee boxes absolutley superb and the greens were true and fast for this time of year.
Every hole was memorable and had its own unique quirks. Highlight hole for me and most people will be the par 3 10th hole. All over water to a two tiered green.
The day we played there was quite a bit of wind and it just happended that every par 3 was straight into the wind. A really tough challenge but would love to go back and play again.
Set amongst sprawling mansions, and on a piece of land perfect for a golf course, Worplesdon GC is one that surely should be pushing for a higher spot on the top 100!
A quaint clubhouse delivered friendly greetings and fantastic grub and set the tone for the day.
The course layout was supreme, and whilst it was muddy in places due to the time of the year, the conditioning was also top notch.
To pick out the best holes would probably mean me doing a list of about 13 or 14, so quicker just to confirm the course is a beauty!!!
Whilst we are attempting to play all of the top 100 courses in England, I would be seriously tempted to come back to Worplesdon in the summer to see it in its prime condition as I think it would be up there with the Sunningdales of this world.
Well played Worplesdon, well played
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.