What we say
As reviewed by ex-Ryder Cup captain Bernard Hunt: Woking is more than a century old, has got plenty of history and is a great heathy-type golf course with several outstanding individual holes, the par 4 7th standing out: It's tree-lined with bunkers right and left off the tee as well so you need to hit a very accurate drive. There’s also a stream running across the fairway in front of the green so it also requires a precise second shot. The old-fashioned turn-of-the-century clubhouse is pretty special too.
Woking is a star of sand and heather and the first of Surrey's three heavenly Ws (Worplesdon and West Hill are the others). But for cremation, this lovely landscape would be lined not with heather but headstones - the Victorians wanted the land for a burial site but instead it became part of a Holy Trinity so the gravediggers' loss was golf's gain.
Woking is one of the world's oldest heathland courses, founded in 1893 and the handiwork of Tom Dunn. Playing the course well calls for accuracy more than long hitting, and nerveless chipping and putting. Visitors may be surprised by its 'inland links' character, especially between May and October.
Accommodation: The Hillside Hotel and the Worplesdon Place Hotel.
- TG Rating
- Players Rating
- Address Pond Road, , WOKING
- Tel 01483 760053
- Website www.wokinggolfclub.co.uk
|Green Fees||Mon-Fri £80.|
|Course Length||5,957 yards (5,447 metres)|
- Course has: Bar
- Course has: Buggy Hire
- Course does not have: Driving Range
- Course does not have: Practice Green
- Course has: Pro Shop
- Course has: Restaurant
- Course has: Trolley Hire
- Course does not have: Dress Code
- Course does not have: Club Hire
- Course has: Handicap
I have had the pleasure of playing Woking many times over the last 30 years and believe that it is now in the best state that I have known it to be: a friendly welcome from both pro shop and clubhouse, a good lunch and a course in excellent condition. The course has benefitted from a programme of clearing out of undergrowth, so allowing more light and air through the trees. The greens are in excellent condition. The whole place is a picture and especially so when the heather is in bloom. So forgive me if I wax lyrical for a bit because I've had so much fun here over those years. If you haven't played the course then, naturally, I would urge you to do so. I agree with the previous correspondent that the course deserves a higher placing in the ratings, all things considered. So please let me give you my impressions of Woking. When you step on the first tee, facing a mere 280 odd yard par 4, you might well think that it's a bit of a disappointment, particularly as the 1st is stroke 18 on the card. "I shall now proceed to knock a 3-wood on the green" you may say to yourself. If only it was as easy as that. The opening shot might appear innocuous but a surprising number can find the bunkers on the left or take a sharp bounce right, off the fairway and finish in line with the oak trees. And if you do get the drive away, the second shot - a modest pitch - will test the nerves. Land it too short and it won't get there; too far and it will run through the green, down the slope behind and down and down ... next thing you know is you have a blind pitch back of 20 yards to a green perhaps 15 feet above you. Once on the green, no putt is a gimme. Subtle breaks and slopes combine to deceive and only the properly struck putt will hold its line. Straightforward opening hole really. The 2nd is the first of the short holes and requires a substantial carry, even from the forward tees, over the valley to a tiered green, which is well guarded by a greedy bunker on the front right. The 3rd and 4th are equally challenging. If the bunkers don't capture your ball, the magnetic attraction of the railway down the right of the 4th may do so. The 5th calls for a well placed tee shot to ensure a good chance of making the green with the second. The 6th - a glorious view from the upper tees - has a nasty stream to carry with the second. The 7th is a short hole that can play longer than the card suggests. Uphill at the 8th and you will need two well-struck blows to get you home. I'm afraid that we now come to the 9th. Notwithstanding my affection for the place, I do not like this hole. It is a slog. It has an awkward green. It is a tough par 4. The hole has changed over recent years to becomelonger and much more of a left hand dogleg than it was. Once a young tiger, I would plot to cut the corner, smacking it over the fir tree on the left. Now, I am thrlled to hit it straight down the fairway and if it gets as far as level with that fir, that's a bonus. Having teed off to a level fairway, the second shot is all uphill. A long iron or a wood will be needed, If the ball can be run up the left hand side of the hil it may break back to the green. A miss to the right makes for an awkward chip. The green can be unforgiving and any 4 achieved here feels more like a birdie than a par. After the short 10th (don't miss it on the left) it's back to watching out for those bunkers. The 11th and 12th provide excellent opportunities for an unbridled drive and also excellent opportunities for putting the second shot in a bunker. The 12th green is particularly daunting if you are above the hole. Strategic plotting of the putt is necessary. As you turn back for home, Woking really comes into its own. The holes get slightly longer each time from the 11th to the 15th. The 13th is a strong two-shotter and then there is a brace of par 5s with the 14th green placed immediately in front of the clubhouse verandah. The agony of putting on this green is often compounded by the sound of the chink of ice on glass only a few feet away and the knowledge that you have four more to play before that pint of "tea" will be yours. Having played up Harley Street - the long, straight 15th - you face the picturesque short 16th. The pond is in fine condition and the curious carp there may come over to say hello if you stop along the way to the green. The two-tiered green can be deceptive and it's longer than you think when standing on the tee. More subtlety awaits at the 17th where it's better to drive down the left, thus leaving a more open second to a green that slopes away from you. The final hole reveals a new landmark. A telephone mast has sprung up behind the clubhouse and this provides an ideal line for the tee shot. Aside from this view of the mast, you would never see it when playing the course (although it lies not far from the 4th tee). Such nerves as remain can easily be shredded by the apparently simple second shot to the home green. The green is tiered and slopes towards the pond on the right side. It is a charming vista and the player who finishes safely on the green will treasure it all the more. The clubhouse reeks of history and tradition. The atmosphere, though, is far from formal and whilst there is a degree of dress code, it is not overbearing. Changing room facilities are perfectly adequate. As mentioned before, lunch is a good one: solid golf club fare with a good range of choice. That pint of "tea"? That's a delicious local beer which you will thoroughly deserve at the end of a round here.
I think too much importance is placed upon the difficulty of the courses since Woking should be higher than 77. It is a gem. It has a great layout with great vistas of more than just one or two fairways at a sweep eg At the clubhouse you see the 1st ,14th and18th and where else could you see a golf shot, putt or chip come up to your feet as you sit on the veranda. The greens are large with huge rise and falls that offer such great opportunity to vary the aspect of approach to them. The tall pines and elevated tees in places gives a feel of 'The Berkshire'. The faiirways look generously wide but the heather has been cleverly cut here and there for best strategic effect. The small lily ponds are in good condition with that at the eighteenth also served with a sumptuous backdrop of Rhododendrons. The course is not long or as difficult as say Hanckley Common but a great feast for the eye and I would rate it higher than some of the courses which, through lack of trees cannot offer such a wow factor. Of course seaside courses cannot boast such trees and therein lies the problem. The seaside/links courses dominate the 'best courses' list but should they? I think not.