A course you'll be hearing a lot more about over the coming years

Camberley Heath

Camberley Heath Golf Club

Camberley Heath Golf Club

Date Reviewed
September 3, 2014
Reviewed by Ed Battye
Camberley Heath is a golf course that I think you will be hearing a lot more about over the coming years.

The Club recently celebrated their Centenary after its foundation in 1913 when Harry Colt routed this wonderful heathland course on a narrow but undulating strip of land on the famous Surrey sand-belt.

Camberley Heath has always been regarded as one of Surrey’s finest courses but residing in a county that is arguably the strongest in England for top quality courses, certainly inland ones, it has not always made it on to a visiting golfers ‘must play’ list. That I suspect may change.

I recently enjoyed a round here and was very impressed by not only the interesting routing that the course takes but also by some of the individual holes, which were outstanding.

The par 71 (6,426 yards) course plays through towering pines and has a wide array of holes. The natural contours of the terrain, where you often play over large swathes of heather, have been used well to create a nice mixture of challenging holes as well as some that offer birdie opportunities.

There’s a real energy about the course that encourages you to be creative with your shot selection. And whilst there are many demanding shots you aren’t going to get beaten up with a catalogue of long par fours. There’s a certain feel good factor about playing golf at Camberley Heath.

The reason I say you may be hearing more about this course in the future, and that its stock may well be about to rise, is that the one consistently weak part of the course, the bunkering, will soon be renovated by architect Frank Pont of Infinite Variety Golf Design, a specialist in restoring the work of Colt.

A quote from Pont that appeared on golfcoursearchitecture.net earlier this year explained his intentions. “Our particular focus at this stage will lie in restoring the bunker style back to the heather style that Colt used so successfully at neighbouring courses such as Swinley Forest and Sunningdale Old and New,”

He added. “In my view there is no reason given the quality of the underlying design why Camberley Heath won’t be held in the same high regard as these famous Colt courses in Surrey after we are done with this restoration project.”

Ambitious words indeed and whilst I don’t think it will ever truly compare to the courses at Sunningdale or Swinley I do agree that it has the potential to become much more widely know than it currently is.

As you might expect from a Colt design the short holes are particularly strong and visually appealing. The green complexes are superb with the second and eighth being stand-out holes in my opinion. But there are many fine others, especially on the front-nine that gradually twists and turns you to the farthest point on the property.

As an opening quartet the first four holes are excellent. An inviting drive at the opening hole should set you on your way nicely before tackling the daunting second that is played across a valley to a green that looks very impressive from the tee and has a wonderfully fluid putting surface fronted by menacingly deep bunkers.

The third backs up the good work of the first two with a snaking par five that requires a drive down the right hand side of the fairway to give you any glimpse of the green, mostly hidden by a huge bank of heather approximately 100 yards short of the green. The impressive start is completed with a driveable par four that has fantastic bunkering and a tricky green.

The 502-yard par four (!) fifth doesn’t play as long as it looks on the card whilst the next is another short par four and the seventh a fine dog-legging two-shotter that complete this triangle of holes.

The eighth is an imperious par three at 235 yards played to a green that gathers from the right but is guarded by bunkers on both sides and has a steep incline just short of it. And the ninth, although played from an elevated tee, will be out of reach for most players in two shots due to the rising nature of this par five. The 10th completes a second triangle of holes and starts the run for home in what is almost a linear direction. This is another stand-out hole with a blind drive over a swathe of heather that should find a large valley fairway before you play up to the green.

The par three 11th is another classic Colt hole and should be enjoyed after a stop at the hut which sells a variety of beverages and food. Only whilst playing the 12th do you really get to experience the hemmed-in nature of Camberley Heath; a busy road running its full length. A Google Earth search will reveal just how surrounded the course is by houses and streets and it is thus a credit to the course that you rarely feel that this is the case; a tranquil oasis in the middle of suburbia.

Holes 13 and 14 pick up the pace once again with a majestic looking par five followed by a short par three that returns you to the clubhouse. The 15th and 16th weren’t my favourite holes but just when you think the course might fizzle out there is a real sting in the tail with the excellent 17th and 18th holes.

The 17th is a marvellous par four that will deceive the first time visitor because you must drive a lot further left than you think in order to find the fairway and avoid a huge hollow down the right.

Meanwhile, the 18th is a magnificent looking hole. Even though the light was fading fast on my visit it was a hugely impressive hole despite its modest yardage of just 332 yards. You must decide whether you can carry a large bank of heather to find the bulk of the fairway but if not you must play to a slither of fairway down the left before shooting up to a high green.

Overall I was enthralled with what Camberley Heath delivered in terms of the shot making values and the landscape it is laid out over. This is a tremendous course that will get even better. Watch this space.

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