Walton Heath New Course Feature Review
Feature review of Walton Heath New Course by Golfshake ambassador Andrew Picken who played both the Old and New courses in September 2015. Check out the full feature and Old course review here.
The New course was laid out in 1907 as a nine hole layout but increased to a full 18 in 1917 by Herbert Fowler. Measuring 6648 yards off the white medal tees. 7175 yards off the Tiger tee’s I loved the fact that both courses are intrinsically intertwined with adjacent tees and greens. The New course is set within the natural landscape once again using natural elements and heather to carve out this fantastic course.
The opening hole, short dog leg par 4 to the left, starts you off gently providing an insight into what’s to come from a course protected by heather and carefully laid out with bunkers to provide an enjoyable round of golf & worthy challenge
The 2nd is a lovely 147 yard Par 3. The island green is surrounded by heather and 4 bunkers give protection to the front, back and both sides.
My round highlight was an astonishing performance on the risk or reward par 4 4th which measures only 288 yards. Whilst the distance may not be an issue for some the green is carefully protected by 2 fairway bunkers on the left and right just short of the green waiting to pick up any shot short of the green. Despite the risks myself and playing partners hit the green in one. An eagle and two pars followed.
The 6th, 183 yard par 3, is another memorable golf hole requiring a shot over cavernous bunkers into a green protected by severe slopes on all sides. This is an absolute gem of a golf hole.
No 8, 510 yard par 5, has an unusually wide and inviting fairway begging the use of a driver off the tee. In my case this was an error as I leaked right into the heather and cost myself 3 shots trying to recover position. A fantastically defined hole that lay traps for the unwary that I jumped straight into.
Having chatted with the Pro before commencing play I was informed that the key to playing this course well is tee shot placement. Walking off the 8th green the reminder of the advice I received from the Pro drew me back to a more defensive strategy off the tee from this point forward.
The par 4 9th measures 460 yards with a belt of rough across its middle resulting in two split fairways. The tee shot has to be short of this rough but close enough to make a 180 -200 yard shot into the tight long & thin green a possibility.
No 10 is a well protected 202 yard par 3 with bunkers protecting the front edge of the green before making way to a sloping green. Add the exposed position and any wind makes this is a real challenge whatever the weather.
Every par 3 on this course is a stunner giving rise to many thoughts before address on the tee. It is not just about club selection for length but also the style and shape of the shot to cater for the putt to follow.
No 12 is a memorable hole because it is one of the few that provides a direct view of the green. A long par 4 measuring 490 yards a straight tee shot will be rewarded by a chance to attack the green. The green slopes towards the hole giving the opportunity for a ball to pitch and stop quickly.
Watch out for the par 4 422 yard 14th, the tee box tends to face away from the best line off the tee. Take the line over the bunker in order to give the best chance of a successful second shot into a green that has a strong upslope. This has a double dog leg. We had been tipped off about this shot and all recorded a 5. This is a brilliantly designed hole following the natural contours of the land. This hole is magical and an absolute beauty.
Par 5 16 is a testing and difficult hole of 607 yards from the back pots. Off the whites at 511 this was still a major challenge requiring 3 excellent shots to reach the green along with course management for the fairway split again. The absence of tight green side bunkering also encourages a sense of adventure but watch out for the grass bunkers around the green.
The bunkers on this hole got me thinking about their origins - where the sheep found shelter from weather by burrowing into the peat. The rubbing of the ground caused the rounded indentations that were eventually developed into bunkers by the addition of sand.
No 17 is a 353 yard par 4 and proves unequivocally that a par 4 does not need to be long to be good. A fairway that encourages a full tee shot and only one bunker protecting the green at the 9 o clock position. Banks of heather to the right provide an optical defence and a very practical one if you are unfortunate enough to put your ball in its vicinity.
As we reached the 18th I stopped to think about my round on an impressive course that requires care and consideration for tee shot placement at all times.
The quality of the greens, fairways and infrastructure is as good as the Old but gave me the impression of being slightly more defined and once again the tee boxes on this course were as good as some greens I have played.
Having chatted with the Pro before my round I found it easier to plot my way around this track as he had advised a much more conservative club selection off the tee to favour placement rather than length. This strategy clearly worked as all our party scored close to par for the round as a whole.
This is a golfing facility of the highest order with a tradition and provenance that is second to none. I totally understand why so many high profile events have taken place at this venue. It is a superlative facility that I would suggest would merit adding to any keen golfers bucket list of places to play.
Image Credit: Walton Heath Golf Club
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