Royal Mid Surrey Review
It seems an unlikely place to find an 18 hole golf course, let alone a 36 hole golf course! Royal Mid Surrey Golf Club is nestled in the leafy West-London suburbs and has been for over 125 years. Just a stones throw from Kew Gardens it is one of the nearest golf clubs to the centre of London and it is that location that makes it a rare treat for golfers in the capital.
The course almost takes you by surprise as you drive through the London traffic, but once through the gates you are met with a warm welcome in the grand and modern clubhouse and by the sight of golf holes as far as the eye can see. The hustle and bustle of London life fades from your mind you can relax and look forward to peace, quiet, greenery and a game of golf.
Royal Mid Surrey celebrated it's 125 year anniversary in 2017 and is owes it's name to it's location - It sits on the Surrey and Middlesex border. It's Royal connections run deep with course the situated on the site of former monastery built by Henry V. The course is also the site of a deer park used by George III, but it's Royal prefix was bestowed in 1926 by The Prince of Wales who was captain that year.
The outer course was laid out by 5-time Open Champion J.H. Taylor with a second course, formally the inner course and now named the Pam Barton Course added in 1899. Both courses feature the humps and hollows that give the Royal Mid Surrey GC such character. J.H Taylor was also the first head professional and handed over to 3-time Open Champion Henry Cotton in the early part of the 20th century further enhancing the club's reputation for producing great golfers.
The humps and hollows that are Royal Mid Surrey's signature feature
Two of the most significant moments in the cub's history have arrived in the past 20 years. The clubhouse was burnt to the ground in just 45 minutes in 2001 and has been replaced by a grand, but modern building. Sadly over a 100 years of records were lost and the club's silver trophies melded together in the extreme heat.
The club has, however recovered and in 2014 began an extensive renovation of the J.H.Taylor course that has taken three years to complete. The character has been retained, but 18 USGA standard greens and new bunkering have been added.
The J.H.Taylor Course
It was a lovely summers day when I played the newly refurbished J.H.Taylor Course. It is a course I have heard of many times before having held some big professional events as well as many major amateur events in the past and so I was intrigued to play and find out for myself what it had to offer.
The main feature of the course is it's signature humps and hollows that surround each green, they really give the course a character of it's own and present a challenge that golfers do not often face. The first hole that really boasts the humps to their full extent arrives early in the form of the Par 5 2nd. While the fairway is flat and a good drive will set up a birdie chance you must avoid the humps and hollows either side of the fairway or risk a really awkward lie that will test even the best of golfers.
Every golf course should have a short par 3. In my book they are often the very best holes and Royal Mid-Surrey does not disappoint with the 5th hole measuring just 147 yards from the back tee. It rewards an accurate shot with short iron, but miss the green and you will be punished by the run off areas and deep bunkering that will make getting up and down for you par a tricky affair.
The Par 3 5th
The course continues to meander through the old deer park and really starts to bear it's teeth when you arrive at the par-4 9th. The River Thames lies in wait for any drive sliced or blocked, but pull your tee shot left and you will be met with a large area of humps and hollows meaning that hitting the green in regulation will be a huge challenge, the second plays slightly uphill and again the green is surround by humps making hitting the putting surface all the more important.
The back nine starts as the front nine ends. The 10th may be the toughest hole on the course measuring 442 yards from the back pegs and playing up hill. This time you will need avoid sand from the tee and into the green. The new bunkering is deep and punishing so choosing the correct strategy is a must. Keep to the left from the tee and you may be able to run the ball into the green.
The Par 3 11th completes your journey back to the clubhouse and is the third instalment in a fine 4-hole stretch of the course. Another fairly short par 3, it plays slightly uphill with the clubhouse in the background framing the green. As with the 5th you will need to avoid the bunker short at all costs.
The Par 3 11th at Royal Mid Surrey
Following another long and tough par 4 the course starts to give a little back on the 13th and signals an easier stretch of holes where you can repair your score following the tricky test around the turn. Long hitters my have a pop at the green, but it is well guarded by deep bunkers, so you will need to be accurate.
It is at the 17th that you head for home. It is a tough drive with a well placed bunker on the left meaning that you have to hit to a narrow fairway with out of bounds and trees lurking on the right. Once again the green is defended by well placed bunkers.
The 18th is a straight par 4 that again requires an accurate tee shot to avoid Royal Mid-Surrey's signature mounds either side of the fairway. The hole plays a little up hill to a green that is situated right in front the clubhouse. You will have an audience in the summer for your final shot in as a patio often packed with golfers enjoying a post-round beverage overlooks the green.
The Bottom Line
While Royal Mid Surrey conjures thoughts of classic rolling heathland of the Surrey and Berkshire sandbelt it is not quite in the same category at the likes of Sunningdale or Hankley Common it does however provide a a great test of golf and the mounding either side of the fairway and the greens provides an almost unique test with only the likes of Berkhamsted drawing comparison.
The work undertaken since 2014 has greatly improved the course with fantastic bunkering now a major feature of the course. The greens are quick, true and will play well all year round.
Royal-Mid Surrey is the rarest of beasts with 36 holes inside the M25 meaning that if you live in the capital you can enjoy a full day of golfing and never play the same hole twice. The welcome is warm and the clubhouse is fantastic. Royal Mid Surrey truly is a golfing oasis in the heart of London.
Golfshake rating 8/10
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