A bunkerless treat on Wimbledon Common

London Scottish

London Scottish Golf Club

London Scottish Golf Club

Date Reviewed
February 22, 2017
Reviewed by Ed Battye
London Scottish Golf Club plays over the fast-running, gravel-based course on the busy Wimbledon Common where a blend of heath and woodland converge to provide a delightful and natural golfing experience.

The Club was founded in 1865 by members of the London Scottish Volunteer Rifles (now the London Scottish regiment) who were stationed on the common. In fact a number of holes, such as Long Butt, Running Deer, Blockade and the Long Hole were originally laid out along the lines of rifle ranges. The member I played with advised that old bullets are occasionally still found on parts of the course.

In 1881 a split within the club between military and civilian members led to the creation by the civilians of what is now Royal Wimbledon Golf Club. The two clubs shared the course until 1907, when Royal Wimbledon members built their own new course just off the common. And it’s also worth noting that the course is shared with Wimbledon Common Golf Club who have a separate clubhouse and start their rounds at the 12th hole!

I recently ventured here to compete in their annual Winter Open which now attracts almost 100 golfers in mid-February. And it’s no surprise really because the ground conditions are excellent for all-year-round golf on this charming albeit no-nonsense layout which doesn’t feature a single sand bunker.

The first thing to do is provide you with some algebra. The par is 68 and the maximum yardage is just 5,458, therefore, it will come as no surprise to you that the CSS is just 66. The course features in our best golf courses under 6,000 yards.

London Scottish is not a long course and the firm conditions mean it probably plays even shorter, especially in the summer months. Now let me inform you that there are three ‘par 3s’ – note the quotation marks –that measure 231, 243 and 228 yards! Not one of them is downhill and trouble lurks at each and every one of them, particularly the fifth which is one of the hardest holes in the country. As a one-handicapper I can categorically state that if I played all my golf here and you could always assure me of no more than 12 strokes on these three holes I’d probably take it.

And level bogey on these three holes mean that you must play the other 15 in five under your handicap to match CSS. As you would hope there are chances to do this with a number of par fours, eight all told, in the 250 to 330 yard range but if your pitching is not dialled in you will inevitable struggle to score well here.

Of the remaining holes there is a really good mix and you will also find a handful of fantastic putting surfaces, notably towards the end of the round but also the green at the short ninth is quite wonderful too. The 13th, 15th and 17th are particularly special with much fun to be had around them.

The tree-lined nature of the course means that wielding driver is not always the best option and being in play is vitally important. Most holes are played in isolation and it’s easy to lose track of where you are in relation to the clubhouse which is something I always like.

Another unusual point to note is that if you’re playing here, under local byelaws, you will be required to wear a pillar box red upper garment, presumably to distinguish golfers from the many dog-walkers and joggers on the common.

London Scottish, a club with a very interesting history, is never going to be knocking on the door of the top 100 rankings but there is much to admire at this down-to-earth club that lays claim to being the longest continuously played-upon course in England. Additionally, the listed wood-panelled clubhouse is one of the few in Britain that remains from the Victorian era.

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