Woodbridge Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook
Being a hotbed for heathland courses, it is no surprise that Woodbridge Golf Club is ranked so highly in Suffolk, as well as rating Highly Recommended on Golfshake. Situated in a Suffolk Coastal Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty around 20 minutes from Ipswich, this traditional club bursts into colour throughout the year given its location and surrounds, providing a true test of golf featuring heather, gorse, and recently enhanced bunkers.
All 27 holes at the venue benefit from the quick draining conditions, with the main 18-hole Heath Course (6,299 yards) complemented by the 9-hole Forest Course - which is in fact a full length 9-hole layout that if played twice measures longer than the Heath (6,382 yards).
The club was founded in 1893 and was then modified by renowned course designer James Braid in the late 1920s and that layout has remained true ever since. In more recent times, the bunkers have been improved and some repositioned by Martin Hawtree to ensure the course continues to provide the test it always has.
We received a superb welcome from the young professional Peter when we arrived, he gave us the low down on the course and also the changes that had been made to some of the bunkers. There is everything you need to complete a quick warm up or a long practice session, the members and visitors can enjoy a 250 yards grass hitting area as well as hitting nets, chipping area, practice green with bunkers, and the main putting green that sits between the pro shop and 1st tee.
Front 9 Overview
Length wise the front 9 gets off to a gentle - but fun start. The opener falls away from tee to green and from there everything falls from left to right, including the green. Big hitters might be tempted but the bunkers short of the green will capture anything off-line.
The 2nd plays down again from the tee, this time the trouble comes in the shape of the water between the fairway and raised green, whilst an iron off the tee will be enough for most, the club selection on the approach shot is crucial to ensuring your ball doesn't roll back down into a watery grave.
The 3rd hole is the first of the two-par 5s - and plays long and uphill and probably into a head wind. Avoiding the three fairways bunkers and three surrounding the green is a real test on a hole where par is a good score.
The par 4 6th is tough from the tee as the hole shapes from right to left, with bunkers either side of the fairway and then again sat between 90 and 60 yards short of the green giving the perception that they are a lot closer to the putting surface. Avoid all those and the other two bunkers sitting short left and right of the green, with this being another hole where you would take a par and run.
The second and final par 5 comes at the 8th, which is shorter in length and bigger hitters might fancy in two - in true style there are a total of six bunkers between tee and green to be avoided but this is definitely a chance to get a shot back. Finally, the 9th is a gem. Playing just short of 200 yards from the back tees, this par 3 drops down from the tee and the green slops severely from left to right. The two bunkers short need to be avoided, albeit with room between them and the target.
Back 9 Overview
The 10th gets the back 9 off to a challenging start. Playing uphill from tee to green, and at 430 yards, avoiding the deep bunker in the middle of the fairway is a must to have a chance of finding the putting surface that is blind from the fairway, so a precise second shot will be required.
The back 9, in my opinion, comes alight from 13-15. The 13th is a relatively short par 4 but playing down from the tee and with everything in sight of the hole, including the heather either side and bunkers, it is perfectly framed, and whilst it may not be the hardest to navigate, it really does illustrate everything that is good about heathland golf.
The 14th then falls away from the tee and at 425 yards a long second shot will test your nerve into a tired green - which will play a shot harder when the pin is placed at the top. The approach shot plays severely downhill so club choice will again be critical. The panoramic scene from the fairway down to the green is another delight.
To finish the trilogy, the 15th is a tough par 3, which again plays down from the tee to a green that has been sculptured into the bank of a hill giving a nice secluded feeling. The green sits behind a cluster of five large and problematic bunkers which, as usual, need to be successfully navigated.
The 16th features no less than nine bunkers between tee and green before the 17th dog-legs through some trees to a sloping green from back to front. The finishing hole turns from right to left but resist the temptation to go big from the tee as the turn of the hole, and landing area, is littered with bunkers. The green sits in front of the clubhouse and balcony so make sure you give yourself the best chance to get away with a half decent score as you never know how big the gallery will be up there. Great finishing hole.
Woodbridge is a great course. It is really tough in places, as you would expect from any top-quality heathland course. But if you keep it in play and away from the well-placed bunkers you can score. It’s definitely a thinking players' course, hitting driver on every hole isn't the best route but you can really enjoy plotting your way around.
Given the land, as mentioned previously, the course drains exceptionally well, so it is in great condition all year round with fairways dry and firm and gives that nice sound to a well hit golf shot. The greens are superb and could also add another test if they needed to speed them up. After the round make sure you head in for a bite to eat and if weather permits, get out onto the balcony, and enjoy watching others seeing their rounds out down the 18th.
Overall, it is clear to me why Woodbridge rates so highly, not only in Suffolk, but the UK too. It is pure heathland golf at its finest and a true and fair test for golfers of all abilities.
Overall Rating - 9
Course (Conditions) - 9
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10
Course (Green Condition) - 9
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 10
Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 8
Practice Facilities - 9
Friendliness/Hospitality - 9
Pace of Play - 8
Value for Money - 8
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|Woodbridge Golf Club
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