Hoebridge Golf Club Feature Review
Hoebridge Golf Club is an excellent place for golfers of all standards to enjoy the game. Located in Woking, Surrey, just a 25 minute train journey from central London, it provides all the amenities to facilitate beginner progression whilst also possessing a golf course which, for a pay and play, is well maintained, varied and thoroughly enjoyable.
The main course at Hoebridge strikes the perfect balance between a course that is eminently scoreable and a course that will punish you if you play bad golf. There is always the promise of an extremely low score, and if you play good golf you will be rewarded. That being said, there is more than enough trouble - ranging from out of bounds and long rough to strategically placed trees and bunkers – to preoccupy the low handicap golfer. In many ways, Hoebridge epitomises the way golf should be. There is a sense of anticipation and excitement before every round, opportunity and danger lie in equal measure and, perhaps most significantly, players leave the course knowing their score is fair reflection of how they played.
The par 3s at Hoebridge are probably the weakest feature of the course, but that doesn't mean all the short holes are lacking in character. As with the rest of the course, there is a good variation in yardage, difficulty and design, with the shortest of the par 3s requiring a nine iron or pitching wedge and the longest requiring a long iron or fairway wood.
There are five par 3s at Hoebridge, two on the front side and three on the back. The second and 18th are relatively innocuous, straight away mid-length holes without much danger, but the sixth, the 16th and to a lesser extent the 12th all test different aspects of your game.
The sixth is a thinking man's hole, and varies greatly depending on tee and pin position. It measures around 180 yards on the scorecard, but plays significantly less, with the two-tiered putting surface some 50 yards below the level of the tee. A large bunker guards the front left side of the green, with trees and sand left and another trap right. When the pin is on the back and conditions suit, it is possible to take on the flag, but a slight misjudgement could take your ball over the green and out of bounds. The sixth is a great thinking hole, and many decide their best chance of making par is to bail out short right and try to get up and down from just in front of the green.
The 16th is the stand out par 3 on the back nine and, again, its card yardage is deceptive. It is listed as 180 yards from the whites, but plays about 20 yards longer. With a field to your left and trees right, the hole is flat for 100 yards before moving significantly uphill. The green is narrow and raised, with a deep, nasty bunker front left. Two more bunkers protect the right hand side of the green, stopping you from working your ball in with the contours of the land. Anything pulled will find trouble, anything short will leave a tough uphill chip and anything right will present an impossible, downhill second over sand.
There are some excellent par 4s at Hoebridge. They are, in my view, the strongest feature of the golf course because of the way they demand good course management, strategy and execution. Even the hardest par 4s are scoreable or if you play the shots you picture in your head, but on some holes being even slightly off line will cost you severely. On numerous holes you could be coming in with a wedge if you hit the ideal tee shot, but stray to the wrong portion of the fairway and you will be completely blocked out by large oaks, clusters of trees or overhanging branches.
The fifth is a perfect example of this. The hole only measures 360 yards from the white tees, but trouble lurks everywhere. The hole dips into a valley before moving uphill and turning to the right around the 250 yard mark. The narrow entrance to the green is mostly blocked out by a huge tree, meaning drives must find the left portion of the fairway for an angle to the pin. Stray too far left from the tee, though, and you will find trees. Pushed drives could also find a separate cluster of trees or leave a completely blocked second. A great hole where par is a great score.
On the back nine, the 11th is a wonderful hole. It is flat for some 150 yards before turning steeply downhill and left to right, with drives only visible for the first part of their journey. A fantastic tee shot can trundle all the way down the hill and finish pin high, leaving no more than 80 yards to the green. Most drives finish on the downslope, however. From there, a mid to short iron remains to a small green some 50 yards below the level of the fairway, with steep run off areas and bunkers front and back protecting the green. Only the very best of shots will hold the green on this exquisitely designed hole.
The par 5s at Hoebridge offer good scoring opportunities, particularly on the front nine. The first and third holes are both reachable and, in truth, they give golfers the perfect chance to get off to a good start. You must take advantage of these par 5s, however, as the other three on the course are much more of a challenge.
The 13th is a brilliant golf hole, where psychological factors come into play. Out of bounds lines the right hand side of the hole, with trees, a large bunker and long rough lining the left. If you find the fairway, you still have to avoid out of bounds and wispy rough with your lay-up, before playing an uphill third to a deceptively large green with steep run-off areas both long and right.
The main course at Hoebridge sets an example to other pay and play courses. It shows you don’t need a large budget to make a course varied, interesting and enjoyable. It is kept in good condition and is thoroughly deserving of a rating of 7/10.
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