Walton Heath (New)

Walton Heath (New)

Both the Old and New Courses at Walton Heath were designed by Herbert Fowler, making his first foray into architecture in his mid-40s. In fact, there is little age difference between the two courses. Fowler’s work began in late 1902, with the Old officially opened by an exhibition match between the Great Triumvirate – Braid, JH Taylor and Harry Vardon – in May 1904. The first nine holes of the Walton Heath New were laid out in 1907 with the full 18 holes in play by 1913.

So these are very much two courses that belong to the same era, and indeed they belong to the same piece of land. Of Walton Heath’s 36 holes, only the opening hole of the Old Course, a long par three, stands apart. It and the clubhouse lie on the other side of the Sutton-Dorking road.

Unlike other Old and New combinations – St Andrews and Sunningdale are two that spring to mind – these two courses are very similar in style.

It is true that the Old follows a more traditional routing whereby the front nine travels outwards towards the furthest end of the property before the second nine turns back for home.

On the New, meanwhile, according to Bernard Darwin: “There is more tacking hither and thither and less of a straight run out and home.”

But in terms of the style of holes, it is almost impossible to define a characteristic which is not shared. Perhaps the pick of the par fours on the New is the 5th, which swings downhill and to the right over the course of its 460 yards.

Nowadays it is the New that is the longer, when played from the latest set of back tees designed strictly for the experts only.