West Hill Golf Club… Introduction
Myself and a few friends used to be members at West Byfleet Golf Club, in Surrey, where they offered seriously good intermediate membership discounts for under 30’s. A benefit to the membership was a number of courtesy rounds at other golf clubs in the area, including West Hill Golf Club, when the course was closed for maintenance.
Given that West Byfleet was a pretty decent track, the courtesy rounds always seemed to be a decent golf clubs and one September afternoon, West Hill Golf Club provided two four-ball courtesies which we took full advantage of. Other courtesies I remember seeing (but not playing) were at Burhill, Effingham and North Hants.
To add some more background to this, I used to live and grew up (late teens) in Pirbright, which is the neighbouring village to Brookwood where West Hill Golf Club is located.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven past the gates at West Hill, but at the time, I had no interest in playing golf. All I wanted to do was play computer games and try to get into the pubs in Guildford with my fake ID.
Finally, I would be driving through the gates to West Hill and we set off on a Friday afternoon for a courtesy round which proved to be quite memorable.
West Hill Golf Club…The Facts
– Architect: Cuthbert Butchart
– Date Opened: 1907
– Location: Woking, Surrey
– Rank: #38
– Tees Played: Yellows (6,073 yards) Par 69 (SSS 70)
– Other Tees: Whites (6,457 yards)
– Fees: £0 (Courtesy)
– Date Played: September 2012
– Website: www.westhillgc.co.uk
Having grown up in Surrey and played the majority of my golf here, West Hill Golf Club is my kind of place.
Tree lined?… YES
Tough?… Hell Yes!
We played off the yellow tees which measures 6,073 yards and on paper, not the longest track there is. However, its a Par 69 which keeps the average length of each hole up.
There is only one par 5 (the 5th), five par 3’s and as with all heathland courses, the heather plays a huge part off the tees.
For me, the stretch of holes running from 5 to 13 are fantastic. It feels like you are on a golfing journey as they largely run on their own without any adjoining fairways through the trees to see and there is plenty of elevation changes to keep the course visually stunning.
I love golf courses which have this feeling, especially when playing them for the first time as you discover the routing of the course through the Surrey heathland.
This is not to say that the other holes are weak, far from it, but there is a distinct difference in feel to holes 5 to 13 and the remainder, which mostly run next to each other.
Some of the memorable holes for me:
Hole 1 – Par 4 (381 yards)
A real tricky opener.
Fairly straight par 4 with a carry over heather and pines encroaching the landing area both left and right. The holes dips towards a hidden ditch and anything over 230 yards off the tee will be heading straight into it, especially with any run in the summer.
The approach shot is played uphill towards a well guarded green with four bunkers left and right to catch anything off line.
Hole 3 – Par 4 (459 yards)
Long downhill dog-leg left par 4.
Tough tee shot from an elevated tee with the hole favoring a draw. A decent shot can get a fair bit of run off the fairway, but most short hitters will most likely be playing this as a three shot hole.
A picturesque downhill approach shot with stream running across the fairway. Two bunkers short of the stream will pick up any monster drives in the summer and one solitary bunker sits 25 yards short of the green to the right.
Hole 15 – Par 3 (182 yards)
SI 13 but plays much harder than this.
Beautifully designed long par 3 needing a precise tee shot. The bunkering of this par 3 is stunning, with four large cross bunkers staring from about 50 yards short of the green and running up to the green on the right hand side.
We played a Friday afternoon in September with the whole course to ourselves, for free! Its difficult not to be swayed into liking the course more because of the experience we had, but I don’t think there would be too many arguments against me if I were to call West Hill Golf Club a Surrey heathland gem.
The condition of the course was fantastic with some superb and tricky greens. The routing is excellent and there is a good mix of strategic and heroic holes. Certainly not a course where driver is needed off every tee, which is a good thing in my view.
Off the yellows its not the longest course, but this is a place where accuracy is king. You plot your way around West Hill carefully thinking about your next shot (or two shots ahead!). Power and distance takes a back seat to allow the purity of our game shine through, shot making.
I’ve almost completed this review without mentioning the other W’s. West Hill Golf Club can and sometimes gets overshadowed by it’s bigger neighbours, Worplesdon and Woking. Its crazy how close all these courses are, have a look on google earth and you will see. However, I would defy anyone to not enjoy a round at West Hill, I certainly hope to be back soon!