Great British Courses
With the Open returning to the Lancashire coast for the first time since 2008 when Royal Birkdale hosted the championship, Alex Jenkins and Mark Alexander highlight the best of the island's other golfing regions.
While Britain is rightly known throughout the world for its unbeatable line up of classic links courses, the counties of Surrey and Berkshire to the west of the nation's capital are home to some of the best examples of a different style of golf – heathland.
Characterized by free-draining sandy soil and framed by swathes of heather, in their early days these courses provided London golfers who didn't want to travel to the coast with places to play. Nowadays, these clubs are regarded as amongst the countries best, with lengthy membership waiting lists in place at the most revered.
Lined with pine, birch and oak trees, the Old Course at Sunningdale Golf Club is a Willie Park masterpiece, and is rightly considered one of the foremost examples of heathland courses in the world. It was here in 1926 when Bobby Jones compiled what was described at the time as the perfect round of golf during Open Championship qualifying. Jones, who would go on to win the Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes shortly after, went round the Old Course in 66 strokes – 33 out, 33 in – with 33 putts and with only threes and fours on the card. The club's New Course, which was designed by Harry Colt, a former secretary and captain at Sunningdale, is another majestic test, one that features Colt's imaginative bunkering and umpteen memorable holes.
Less than three miles down the road from Sunningdale lies the West Course at Wentworth Club, probably the most televised course in Britain thanks to its long-time association with the European Tour's PGA Championship and numerous other professional events. Another Colt design, the West is lined by magnificent ancient oaks and its wonderfully kept turf is a delight to hit off. An extensive renovation programme led by Ernie Els, a Wentworth member, took place in 2009, which drew criticism from some quarters but recent tweaking to soften some of the more severe features has recaptured the golfing public's imagination in what is undoubtedly a very fine layout indeed.
Other not-to-be-missed heathland courses in the region include Walton Heath, St George's Hill and Woking.
Sunningdale Golf Club www.sunningdale-golfclub.co.uk
Wentworth Club www.wentworthclub.com
Walton Heath Golf Club www.waltonheath.com
St George's Hill Golf Club www.stgeorgeshillgolfclub.co.uk
Woking Golf Club www.wokinggolfclub.co.uk
Written by Alex Jenkins and Mark Alexander
Photography by David Cannon
Click here to see the published article.
Any avid collector of golfing experiences should reach into their pocket and make the trip to the luxurious Farm at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand, home to a brilliant Tom Doak-designed track that is full of drama, originality and beauty
The eastern coast of Java, around Surabaya, doesn't automatically spring to mind quality golf. But as Duncan Forgan reveals, there are two courses, a mere hour's drive from the centre of the city that certainly reward the intrepid traveller
An inside look at the Avista Phuket Resort & Spa in Thailand, a luxury retreat that’s becoming a hit with travelling golfers
The Sunshine State is home to 1,340 golf courses, so does it really need two more? Yes, they do – when one realises they're designed by the most influential and pragmatic designers in world golf today – Tom Doak and the team at Coore and Crenshaw
Home to just a handful of courses, Sri Lanka might lag behind some of the region's most popular destinations in respect of playing opportunities. But with a tradition in the Royal and Ancient game virtually unmatched in this part of the world, golf is the perfect complement to a visit to this rejuvenated nation's many off-course wonders
The Land of Smiles will become the world’s leading golf tourism destination within three years if current growth trends continue
Mission Hills Group have announced that all junior golfers under the age of 16 will benefit from free access to three of the resort operator’s golf courses in 2013.
... about nothing. There's more than nature at hand in the evolution of the Old Course, which makes the recent furore over the R&A's changes hard to fathom, writes St Andrews resident Roger McStravick
With three times as many courses as Hong Kong, Singaporeans are rather better served when it comes to choosing where to play. Duncan Forgan checks out the best of what the city-state has to offer.
Golf in Japan, but not as you know it! Charles McLaughlin sampled the delights of summer in Hokkaido, a region renowned for world-renowned skiing, but now one that has become a great golf destination in its own right