“Golf is a good walk spoiled” according to some but to others there’s nothing like the challenge of hitting that small round ball to the best of your ability, avoiding hazards and wayward shots along the course and eventually seeing it drop in the hole.
Whether you’re a fair-weather golfer or are out bright and breezy on a chilly morning, you get to play in some of the most stunning scenery and well-maintained land around and none more so than in Surrey and Hampshire, where you literally can’t hit a golf ball without
coming across a course.
Some of the many clubs in our area have been telling us about their course, favourite holes and offering tips for how to play it as well as sharing their thoughts on this year’s Ryder Cup, the biennial tournament between Europe and the USA. Europe are the holders but will they retain the trophy this time in the USA who will have the support of their vociferous fans?
SURREY, HAMPSHIRE & WEST SUSSEX COURSES
liphook golf club, liphook gu30 7eh
John Douglas, Secretary
Favourite hole on the course & why? My favourite hole is the 18th. It’s a great risk and reward hole where you can pick up a birdy just as easily as a bogie! It’s also nearer the bar!
Best and worst features of it? It is very picturesque. You come over the hill and the green with its bunkers can be seen with the clubhouse behind. The worst aspect is that you can overshoot the green and end up on the clubhouse car park or worst of all hit the windows to my office!
Any tips for how to play it? A good drive down the left hand side of the fairway is essential. The lay of the land will result in your ball ending up in the middle of the fairway.
Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? Who will star? I expect Europe to win with (Tommy) Fleetwood being the star! I have no idea really!
clandon regis golf club, west clandon GU4 7TT
Favourite hole on the course & why? The 11th hole, a long par three from white tees with carry over water.
Best and worst features of it? It’s a beautiful and testing hole. Requires a carry of 170 yards.
Any tips for how to play it? Practise your putting before playing the course!
Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? I expect Europe to win.
Alresford golf club, so24 0pn
Favourite hole on the course & why? The 11th, All Aboard!, so called because the old railway carriage that was the clubhouse from 1953 to 1969 was sited where the 11th tee now stands. It’s the best looking hole on the course and is a lovely dog leg right to left with a tricky raised green with mature trees as a backdrop.
Best and worst features of it? A long testing par 4 hole, visually challenging with the drive played through an avenue of trees. The green slopes back to front and can be slick. A cavernous deep front right bunker is to be avoided at all costs.
Any tips for how to play it? A draw from the right to maximise distance – but make sure you find the fairway. Play your second to avoid the fairway bunker. For handicap golfers lay up well short of the green and take an extra club to the raised green. Two putts and run to the next hole…
Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? Who will star? Tommy Fleetwood will lead from the front again. The outcome will be close, but the Europeans will retain the trophy.
bramley golf club, GU5 0AL
Favourite hole on the course & why, best & worst features? The 17th is a great par three, measuring 176 yards, from the highly elevated tee you get fantastic views of Chinthurst Hill but with the beautiful take to the left of the green and out of bounds to the right it can be an intimidating tee shot.
Any tips for how to play it? To play Bramley well it is key to hit accurate tee shots and plan your round with precision. The start is challenging but once you’ve reached the 6th you can loosen up and let the ball fly. Make your way down the hill to the 16th and prepare for the three most demanding finishing holes in the area.
You may not know… Bramley Golf Club is the ony club in the area that offers a flexible weekend membership for those members who work during the week but are keen to play at weekends. This also gives members the opportunity to play after 5pm in the summer after work. With around £120,000 being invested in the course over the next three years and excellent practice facilities with a 7-bay covered range, short game area and indoor studio, Bramley is investing in its future.
Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? Europe to win!
chobham golf club, knaphill GU21 2TZ
Favourite hole on the course & why, best & worst features? The 15th hole is Chobham’s signature hole requiring a long iron or fairway wood to carry the large lake that extends 170 yards from the tee. The well-guarded green with three bunkers makes this par three a true test. Walk off here with a par and you’ll be very happy.
You may not know… Colin Montgomerie laid the last brick at the club and our function room upstairs is named after him.
Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? Europe to win, of course!
THAMES VALLEY COURSES
Newbury & Crookham Golf Club, Thatcham RG19 8BZ
Gareth Williams, General Manager
Which is your favourite hole on the course and why? My favourite hole is the 8th hole, the legendary golf commentator Peter Alliss described it on air as one of the hardest holes in Berkshire.
What are the best and worst features of it? A 424-yard par 4 with a stream 270 yards from the tee, with out of bounds to the right.
Any tips for how to play it? A long iron or fairway wood are ideal but a driver would make the second shot easier. The first half of the dog-leg hole is flat, left and up the hill, the second half always plays longer. The green slopes from back to front the trick is staying below the hole with your approach and decide whether to go for a par or accept a bogey and play it as a par 5.
Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect/who will win? With it being in Wisconsin, I would expect the Americans to be favourite. I think Jon Rahm will be strong for Europe. Justin Thomas has a good match-play record for USA.
Ogbourne Downs, Marlborough SN8 1TB
James Short, General Manager
Which is your favourite hole and why? The 14th hole, ‘our signature hole’, called The Long Valley.
What are the best and worst features of it? The hole follows a steep sided valley, the tee is raised and gives a great view down the valley.
Any tips for how to play it? It’s a par 5, the big hitters can go for it in two, it’s really important to get the drive straight as there is a lot of trouble both sides of the fairway.
Interesting fact about the club… Ogbourne Downs Golf Club has had three different names North Wilts Golf Club, Swindon Golf Club and now Ogbourne Downs Golf Club
And looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, who will win? Who will be the star? Europe of course! Tommy Fleetwood will be the star yet again.
Frilford Heath, Abingdon OX13 5NW
Which is your favourite hole on the course and why? 9th on the Red Course is a signature of the club and firm favourite of many. Recently one of our 95-year-old members achieved a hole in one here!
What are the best and worst features? Best thing is having 54 holes of championship golf available, our day rates mean visitors can enjoy unlimited golf for one fee when they play. Worst thing is there aren’t enough hours in the day to play them all, unless you fancy a challenge!
Any tips for how to play it? Each course has its own defence whether it be the tricky greens on the Green Course or the length on the Red. My advice would be to identify and adapt to the defences quickly.
Interesting fact about the club… The late Roger Bannister was a member for over 35 years. We have hosted English Amateur Championships for men and ladies since the club opened and for the last couple of years have hosted the Brabazon Trophy, European Tour Q School and Regional Open Qualifying.
Which Ryder Cup Team will win this year? Europe. We hope our own Eddie Pepperell will be in consideration. Frilford hosted a trial for the Ryder Cup in 1931, we’d love to be involved again.
Temple Golf Club, Hurley, Maidenhead SL6 5LH
Keith Adderley, Club Secretary
Which is your favourite hole and why? I’ll plump for the par 4 18th, it’s a classic risk and reward. The green is in reach but beware the meadow rough and refurbished bunkers. A well-positioned drive leaves a short approach to the green and a very realistic birdie opportunity and then it’s off to the clubhouse for a well-earned drink and meal, with more time to take in the stunning views before heading for home.
What are the best and worst features? Temple is built on chalk and drains very well so it really is a year-round golf course. On the downside we can’t accommodate all the visiting golfers who want to play here at weekends as there isn’t enough car-parking available.
Any tips for how to play it? Temple is a Willie Park Jr. course with a challenging and interesting layout – difficult enough to test low handicap players but friendly enough to encourage those with higher handicaps.
Who do you think will win the Ryder Cup and who will be the star player? Whistling Straits is a links-style course and should suit the Europeans more than other US Ryder Cup venues. Jon Rahm could be the most influential player on the European team.
Bearwood Lakes, Wokingham RG41 4SJ
Which is your favourite hole on the course and why? The 9th, it’s a little par 3 over the water.
What are the best and worst features of the club? We’re friendly and welcoming. Our Sunday carveries are so delicious they are bad for the waist line!
Any tips for the club? Even if you don’t play golf, you could be a social members to make use of the Clubhouse and restaurant.
Interesting fact about the club… Featured in the top 10 most exclusive golf clubs in England.
Who will win the Ryder Cup? Europe, of course!
Harleyford, Marlow SL7 2SP
Which is your favourite hole and why? The best holes at Harleyford are on the back nine, notably the 12th, a picturesque, short par 3 enclosed by steep banks of white chalk. With danger both short and long, the correct club selection is vital. The 14th, a driveable risk and reward par 4, only 314 yards, surrounded by tight, steep pot bunkers, so a wayward tee shot may cost more than your par on this hole.
What are the best and worst features? Throughout the course and grounds are hand crafted driftwood sculptures by James Doran-Webb, notably the iconic stag, standing proudly above the 1st tee. The fantastic short game facilities and range may mean you’re so caught up in your practice you’re late for your tee time!
Interesting fact about the club… Harleyford is the home club of Tyrrell Hatton, who played here as a junior and still practises here regularly.
Who do you expect to win the Ryder Cup? Who will be the star? A tough assignment, but I’m hopeful of a successful trip to Whistling Straits for the European team. We hope Tyrrell will excel again and expect Jon Rahm feature successfully.
Bird Hills Golf Club, Maidenhead SL6 3ST
Ian Richard, Course Manager
Which is your favourite hole on the course and any tips for how to play it? The 17th, it’s a fantastic short par 4. It is well protected with three fairways and two greenside bunkers. If you are out of position from the tee then you will have to navigate around a beautiful large oak tree. Once at the green you will need to read your putts carefully and look out for subtle breaks.
Looking ahead to the Ryder Cup, what do you expect? Who will be the star? Europe to win, it would be nice to win away and relive the memories from Medinah in 2012. Tommy Fleetwood has been flying high for a few years now. I can see him taking this form into the Ryder Cup and bringing it home.
Badgemore, Henley RG9 4NR
Which is your favourite hole and why? 13th is our signature hole, a great challenge! 192 yard for the men and 159 for the ladies. It’s a par 3 across a valley playing to a large green. Once you’ve hit your way across, it makes three putting a distinct possibility.
Any tips for how to play it? It is certainly advisable to know your yardages, with dog legs and sometimes tight flags you’ll have some tricky but exciting shots.
Interesting fact about the club… It was opened in 1972 by Sid James of Carry On fame who was a keen golfer!
Who will win the Ryder Cup? And who will be the best player? We have to back Europe and with Rory McIIroy back to World No. 1 he’ll have a point to prove.
Henley Golf Club, RG9 4HG
Mark Howell, Head PGA Professional
Which is your favourite hole? Hole 18
What is the best feature of it? Hitting the shot into the arena of the 18th green with people watching from the terrace.
Any tips for how to play it? If you think you can go for the green be cautious, it is well guarded with bunkers left and right but it does provide a great opportunity for a birdie finish!
Interesting fact about the club… The peace and tranquillity of nature when playing the course.
Which team will win the Ryder Cup? And who will be the best player? Europe and Justin Rose.