One of the eternal debates in English golf surrounds the relative merits of the three fine courses at Woburn. Are you a Marquess man, with its modern proportions and championship vibe? Perhaps you are of a certain age, and in that case Woburn will always mean the Duke’s to you, remembering a time when the likes of Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle and Seve Ballesteros graced its fairways each year on the European Tour. For others still, it is the shortest and most tree-lined of the trio, the Woburn Duchess, that has the most charm.
At 6,400 yards, the Duchess is by no means short, but as a course that opened in 1980 it came just before the wave of monstrous new ‘championship’ courses that, it must be said, have left little of lasting value to England’s golfing portfolio.
Designed by Charles Lawrie, who had created the Duke’s a couple of years earlier, it is a course that belongs to another age. Frankly, it is all the better for it.
The fairways are lined by pines and many of the par 4s are doglegs. Occasionally, claustrophobic, it is a fact that the thwack of Pro V1 on wood is a regular aural accompaniment to the conversation in your group. Woburn is nothing if not immaculately presented and the Duchess is pristine in all but the wettest of conditions.
Lawrie’s short holes are distinctive – the 7th with its unusual diagonal ridge and the 13th, falling off to the left, are arguably the pick – while the closing stretch features many of the Duchess’s finest moments.
If well-presented, consistent inland golf is your thing then you will be very happy on the Duchess.