Being the second course to such an outstanding and famous name as the Old is never easy. Sunningdale New does not, however, cower in her sister’s glory. This is championship golf of the very highest standard. The New is more obviously apparent than the Old on first viewing, with its open expanses and a greater proportion of straight holes. Perhaps it is the respective names that lead you to think this way, but the Old does feel the more mature and established, whereas the New still retains a slightly more youthful feel despite being only 20 years or so junior.
Wending in and out between one another for the most part, only the horseshoe, as it is known, towards the end of the front nine of the New seems divorced from the rest of the huge estate.
On these three holes the trees give way to an expanse of old-fashioned and wild common where the higher land means the wind is a key factor and suddenly there are expansive views over a swathe of open land that you would swear could not exist so close to London.
In fact, it is just 22 miles from the capital’s West End and, more significantly for golfers, only a mile or so further down the A30 from Wentworth. The Sunningdale New course has also seen plenty of championship action and was the venue for Gary Player’s first-ever professional victory, in the 1956 Dunlop Masters. In amateur golf, the Brabazon has also been competed for here.
Suitably flushed with success, you will then want to retire to the sumptuous clubhouse for a long, cool drink and reflect on a day spent in golfing nirvana.
As far as opening holes go, the New’s is about as tough as it gets: 465 yards across a pronounced left-to-right slope. In fact, the opening half is much the longer of the two and if you can emerge relatively unscathed through, say, the first 11 holes then a good score is a distinct possibility. Highlights include the 9th, which demands a driver over a saddle-shaped brow to to sweeping fairway that will add 40 yards to a straight drive.
It is the start of the New’s Amen Corner. Immediately afterwards comes another of Sunningdale’s exceptional short holes, this time calling for a long iron to a generous green. Miss it at your peril – heather and cavernous bunkers await.
Then comes another tough par four, this time a dogleg to the left. Stronger hitters may clear the corner and therefore bring the green into range, but most will be forced to aim well right from the tee and play the hole as a par five.
The Sunningdale New ends with a gentle par five – it is only three yards longer than the 1st on the card – which offers the chance of a closing birdie. Suitably flushed with success, you will then want to retire to the sumptuous clubhouse for a long, cool drink and reflect on a day spent in golfing nirvana.