Just when you think you have experienced all of Surrey’s countless special heathland courses, along comes another one. To go and visit Camberley Heath you have to be able to resist being sidetracked by the likes of Woking, West Hill, Worplesdon, Hankley Common and New Zealand. Camberley Heath is found between Woking and Aldershot on the M3 corridor. It has hosted the Lagonda Trophy and has also been a regional qualifying venue for the Open. Famous names to have played here include the Open champions James Braid, JH Taylor, Harry Vardon and Tommy Armour.
It’s even better than you might be expecting – then again when you hear words like ‘Colt’ and ‘heathland’ and ‘Surrey’ in the same sentence you should know that you are in for a treat. And so it proves.
Camberley Heath’s calling card is a series of short par 4s that tempt and trick in equal measure. For all but the most skilful players, you know you should treat them with respect, getting the ball in play off the tee and trusting your wedge play.
But because they are so tantalisingly short, it can be very difficult to resist. And once you’ve missed them in the wrong place then you are in a world of pain. Usually you short-side yourself and bring the heather-ringed bunkers into play. As ever, Harry Colt’s bunkering is sublime. These hazards are as charming as they are dangerous and well placed.
As for the best hole, it’s tough to say. That may be the 5th, a long par 4 that twists its way round a corner and downhill. You are hitting into the point of a ‘V’ so the longer your tee shot the more accurate you will need to be. The reward, though, is getting way down the hill and making the second short considerably shorter.
The 2nd is a a pure Colt short hole, played across heather to a slightly raised and well-defended target. The green has got all sorts of slopes and contours and because you only have a short iron in your hand you can try to take advantage of them. For the skilled player, you are not aiming at the green but at a part of it if you want to set up a realistic putt for a two.
You can only admire the conditioning, as well as the sweeping contours on many of the greens. As a short-ish, fast-running heathland, the greens are a primary defence and you really can leave yourself some ridiculously slippy putts. From the back of the green towards the front on the par-5 13th would be one that springs immediately to mind.
It can only be hoped that the rather bizarre pond on the 16th, introduced by the club’s then Japanese owners in the 1980s, is one day soon filled in. It is hard to see how it has any place on a Harry Colt golf course.