Played by NCG: Walton Heath (New)
Reason for a Walton Heath Golf Club review
I’ve been desperate to tick Walton Heath off my list for years, so when some friends and I planned a little golf trip to Surrey we knew it had to be on the list. It is also the host of the 2018 British Masters.
Where is Walton Heath?
It’s in the small, affluent village of Tadworth, just off the M25.
What to expect
A golf club as traditional as they come. The awe-inspiring clubhouse is steeped in history and you are unable to walk two yards without being transfixed by a photograph or memorabilia from the 1981 Ryder Cup, featuring what is largely considered the finest ever American team assembled for the biennial competition. Everywhere you go, you feel the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Hale Irwin and Lee Trevino are watching you.
It was also the last Ryder Cup where the home team played as Great Britain and Ireland. From then on it would be the US vs. Europe.
Also world-renowned course architect James Braid was the professional at Walton Heath – which I didn’t realise until my visit – and you can actually check out his workshop which Walton Heath has restored and maintained.
If you’re a golf history buff, allow extra time to really immerse yourself in the clubhouse.
The New course begins over the road from the clubhouse, so it’s a bit of a walk, but it’s totally worth it once you get there. Opened as a nine-hole course in 1907 and was extended to 18 in 1913, the New is a heathland adventure that will take your breath away at every turn.
The New course is sat in the middle of the land at Walton Heath and the Old course wraps itself around it, which shapes a lot of the holes on the New. There are loads of long tough par 4s but also a few short 4s that gift the illusion that you can have a go at them.
Every hole feels as though it had heather either side of the fairway to a give it pure definition, but also to make it feel like a tough challenge. The greens are some of the best you’ll ever play on.
The 5th is a very tough but wonderful par 4. You drive over a slight hill that dog-legs to the right and demands accuracy off the tee here as position is key. The second shot is into a small green that’s very well protected and you need to get the angle right otherwise you’re in trouble. As a golfing test of nerves go, it’s up there. Walk off with par here and you’re very happy.
What to look out for
Every hole is dripping in gorse, a typical trait of a Herbert Fowler design.
And the heather itself is some of the most fascinating I’ve ever encountered on a golf course. Despite it being the thickest I have ever had to play out of – you walk down the fairway thinking there is no way you’ll find your ball, but you always seem to stumble on it. Getting it out though, that’s a different story…
The New is also very well bunkered so you’ll need to plot your way around – a course guide is a must.
My best bit
The 1st (main photo) is a short but tight hole with trees down the right and heather down the left waiting to gobble up any errant tee shots. I usually need a few holes to to get going, so draining a 20-footer for birdie at the opening hole was particularly pleasing. It’s all downhill from there though, isn’t it?
When I go back
I will make sure I allow myself an hour to practice putting. Not because it was bad, but Walton Heath has the best putting green I have ever been on. Not only does it actually have 18 holes, it feels like it’s about the size of a football field, with undulation, turns and green speeds that can provide plenty of challenges. And that’s before you get on the course!