Feature Review Fulwell Golf Club
Fulwell Golf Club in Twickenham is a lovely golf course situated on the outskirts of London. It is easily accessible from the centre of the capital but far enough outside the city to provide a relaxed feel and a sense that you are playing golf in the countryside. Indeed, Twickenham, Richmond and some other areas of south west London are excellent places to play a round of golf, with a plethora of good golf courses, easy access via public transport and the M4 and a numerous accommodation options should a round turn into a fully-fledged golfing weekend.
Fulwell is a quaint golf club, set over a relatively small area of land and constructed in unison with the natural terrain. The course is a woodland/parkland hybrid and utilises features such as lateral hazards, shrubbery, thick rough and tree-lined fairways as its main defences. What makes the course so enjoyable is the prospect of what is achievable if you bring your best golf. It isn’t the longest track in the world, and there are numerous birdie opportunities if you keep your ball in play. That being said, there is potential to lose a significant amount of balls, and if you stray off line you will find yourself in trees or heavy rough and forced to chip out sideways.
The off-course facilities at Fulwell are of a good standard, including a driving range, golf nets and a chipping and putting green. The professional shop is well stocked with clubs, balls and both female and male clothing, and the large clubhouse contains extensive changing facilities, dining rooms and two bars and serves an excellent selection of hot and cold food.
There are some very good par 3s at Fulwelll, and a good mix between short holes requiring no more than an eight iron and longer versions requiring a long iron or fairway wood. The greens on the shorter holes are small, undulating and well protected, and there is provision for a number of pin positions tucked away behind bunkers.
The ninth hole is probably the best par 3 on the golf course, and presents a narrow, daunting tee shot. It plays at 155 yards from the white tees, but par is a good score. Tee shots are hit over a small valley containing water and marshland, and anything hit slightly heavy could topple back into the hazard. Two large bunkers guard the left and right hand side of the green, with an outcrop of trees waiting to catch anything pulled left. The green itself slopes from back to front and there are many humps and hollows to contend with. If the pin is on the front and you miss long, it is a challenge to keep your second on the green. Similarly, though, if you hit a good shot, the contours can help your ball edge closer towards the hole.
Fulwell starts with four consecutive par 4s, and you are content if you stand on the fifth tee level with your handicap. As with the rest of the course, there is a mixture of short and long holes, but the general standard is always maintained: stray offline and you risk losing your ball.
The second hole is arguably the toughest on the course. Trees run parallel to the left hand side of the fairway, but drives should favour the left hand side or risk being blocked out. The hole turns sharply right around the 250 yard mark, any anything leaked right or left short of that mark will mean a lay up. Lay ups are tricky, though, as a giant tree stands at the apex of the dogleg, and anything pushed or pulled will find yet more woodland. If you negotiate the hurdles, a wedge remains to a slightly raised green that can be difficult to hold. If you walk to the third with a five on your card, you are more than happy.
The tenth hole is another good par four, but it isn’t length that makes it difficult. It plays around 350 yards from the whites, but accuracy is paramount. Again, trees line the left hand side of the hole, but a ditch and bushes lie in wait through the fairway, which runs at a left-to-right angle to give added difficulty to the tee shot. If you find the fairway, a short iron remains to a small green, but it will take an accurate shot to find the putting surface. Anything pushed will find bushes to the right of the green, anything left will find the deepest bunker on the course and anything long will fall off one of the green’s many run-off areas. Proof that a hole doesn’t have to be long to be difficult.
There are three par 5s at Fulwell, and they all present good birdie opportunities if you keep the ball in play. Some are even reachable in two for the longer hitter, but trouble lurks everywhere, and it is perfectly feasible to rack up a score in double figures.
The first par 5 on the course, the 5th, is one of the most daunting tee shots on the course. Some of the densest woodland on the course runs all the way down the left of the fairway, with the driving range right. At its narrowest point, there is only 25 yards between them. The hole turns slightly left around the 250 yard mark, and if you hit it that far, the green is in reach. There is a ditch some 30 yards short of the green, though, and approaches landing over the ditch will struggle to hold the long, narrow green. The prudent play is a lay up, but distance control is the key with the third, as the green is some 30 yards from front to back.
The 11th hole is the first par 5 on the back nine and the hardest hole on the course, thanks largely to the severe green. The first 500 yards is relatively nondescript, but the green is treacherous. It slopes heavily from back to front, but two steep run off areas on the front half of the green are the real hazard. From the run off area left to the run off area right, there can be no more than 10 feet of flat green, and if you find yourself in one of the swales, an up and down is nigh on impossible.
Fulwell isn’t the best golf course in the world, and will never threaten to become one of the best in the country, but it provides for a thoroughly enjoyable round of golf. It is well conditioned, there is a good mix of holes and it is inherently fair. Overall, I would give Fulwell Golf Club a rating of 7/10.
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