An awe-inspiring journey through magnificent wooded heathland

Sunningdale (Old)

Sunningdale Golf Club (Old)

Sunningdale Golf Club (Old)

Date Reviewed
September 1, 2022
Reviewed by Ed Battye
Sunningdale is a great golf club with two fantastic heathland golf courses.

I was expecting something special on my first ever trip to Sunningdale and it didn't let me down. In fact it delivered in spades.

I have returned since and it continues to mesmerize.

What pleases me most is the notable difference between both the Old and New courses; both two of the finest inland golf courses in Great Britain.

On my first visit I expected each course to be very similar in style and design. Indeed they are both truly superb heathland courses but the New course poses an entirely different set of questions to that of the Old.

The Old is simply an awe-inspiring journey through magnificent wooded heathland. There is a great variety of holes, perfectly encapsulated in the opening four; a reachable par five, a demanding par four, a driveable par four and a fantastic uphill par three. The course continues in similar vein with each hole unravelling delightfully to present something different. Much has been written about the Old course, which is favoured by many, so I will simply give a brief overview of special points of personal note.

Following the excellent first four holes the drive from the fifth, with a view right up to the sixth green, is also inspiring and it's a very pretty hole, with a pond short of the green, but I personally thought this wasn't as strong a hole as it has been made out to be by others. After an intimidating blind drive the approach into the seventh is an absolute joy where fairway, green and surrounds simply melt into one. The best drive on the course comes at the 10th where you play down to the fairway below and try to avoid a series of fairway bunkers before playing up to the green that sits in front of the notorious halfway house. You can see all the challenges that this hole poses from the tee box.

The 12th hole is possibly my favourite on the course and is one of the most beautiful holes you will come across. I believe the falling par three 13th to be the weakest hole of the entire 36 but the 15th is a very good short hole (although it can play up to 239 yards!) whilst the closing three holes will test the best with accurate driving and precise iron-play required. The final green, shadowed by the huge oak tree behind, caps a mesmerising round.

On the whole the Old course is fairly generous from the tee with strategic placement required on many of the holes. There are three short-ish par fours (the 3rd, 9th and 11th) which felt a bit strange and left me feeling as if this was perhaps (at least) one too many. However, in summary it has to be said that heathland golf doesn't get much better than this.

The club itself is so unassuming and the level of service from staff within the clubhouse and pro-shop is extremely attentive. As a visitor you very much feel like you are a cherished member of the club, at least for a day anyway!

So, which do I think is the best? It's a bit like asking if you'd prefer to win £100 million or £75 million on the lottery, but I say that the 'New' is the better course.

The New requires a much higher standard of golf to meet its challenge and I think it boasts the superior individual holes. Admittedly the Old course has more character and owns the most beautiful holes on the estate.

The Old has also probably been the most influential course of the two over the years, and allows for a little indulgence, but in my opinion that doesn't make it the best.

Read the review of Sunningdale (New) here.

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