Located halfway between Ipswich and Aldeburgh, within a few miles of the Suffolk coast is a wooded, gorse-lined heathland course that dates back to the 19th century. Woodbridge recently celebrated its quasquicentennial anniversary and has changed relatively little over the years. Laid out over Bromeswell Heath, it measures a shade under 6,300 yards and plays to a somewhat ungenerous par of 70.
There are two par 5s on the outward nine, and both are birdie chances, but none coming home. Despite that imbalance of par, the back nine is only fractionally shorter so most good scores are built on strong starts rather than fast finishes.
Woodbridge was designed in 1893 by North Berwick’s Davie Grant. It was updated in the 1920s by James Braid and not much has changed since bar some tinkering by Fred Hawtree.
Expect fairways fringed with heather, gorse, oak and pine and almost constant changes of elevation. It remains a peaceful, secluded spot, a delightful course to stumble on during a golfing trip.
“Woodbridge represents inland golf at its most natural and delightful best,” wrote Frank Pennink in his Golfer’s Companion.
“It is undoubtedly one of the best courses in East Anglia. Magnificently sited on high ground, this is heathland golf of a high order, with springy turf, gorse and heather, and sandy subsoil.”
The back nine at Woodbridge includes a collection of long par 4s, none more appealing than the 14th, which is 425 yards but falls downhill from the tee before eventually rising to a two-tier green. It’s a delightfully naturally hole that sits so comfortably in its surroundings.
Before it comes a short par 4 that is the most obvious birdie chance on the back nine. Both of the par 3s are over 180 yards while four of the two-shotters exceed 400 yards. The final hole, the work of Braid, does at least offer the chance of finishing on a high.
Allied with the likes of Aldeburgh, Purdis Heath and Thorpeness, all of which are within easy reach, this corner of Suffolk is a quite outstanding venue for a trip away. It’s within easy reach of the south east and is highly recommended during the winter months.
While the fairways in most other parts of the country turn soft, bare and muddy you can rely on fine turf to hit from at Woodbridge and Co.