Sunningdale Golf Club
Location: Sunningdale, Berkshire
Designer: Willie Park Jnr, Colt and Morrison
Sunningdale Golf Club is a prestigious heathland golf course located in Sunningdale, Berkshire, approximately 30 minutes drive from Central London. It has two courses: The Old and The New. The golf club itself was founded in 1900 on an area of Chobham Common that originally belonged to St. John’s College, Cambridge.
Harry Colt, who went on to be one of the most famous golf course designers in history, was the first ever secretary of Sunningdale Golf Club. He went on to design The New Course, which was opened in 1923.
Sunningdale Golf Club is a dog-friendly course, with golfers allowed to take their canine companions along for their round
Sunningdale Golf Club: The Old Course
Sunningdale Golf Club’s Old Course is a par 70 heathland course that was designed by Willie Park Jnr, and opened in 1901. A truly beautiful golf course that has played host to some of golf’s biggest events, including the British Masters, The Walker Cup and The Women’s British Open.
Crafted over a stunning stretch of undulating heathland that, incredibly was once regarded as entirely unsuitable for golf course construction, Sunningdale’s sublime sandy turf is decorated with pine and birch trees, heather, gorse and rhododendrons. The frequent splashes of colour, the variety of terrain and the manner in which holes meld into the landscape set the Old apart from similarly appointed courses like Swinley Forest, The Berkshire and Woking.
The Old Course is one of the best inland courses in the UK. With lots of birdie opportunities, the heavily bunkered heathland golf course is a wonderful place for a round of golf, and it has a special ambience about it. It could be classed as being too short these days with the advances in equipment technology, but that doesn’t take away from visual appeal and feel that the course gives you.
The Old course at Sunningdale Golf Club was the venue for what is often stated to be the finest round of golf ever played. Bobby Jones’ perfectly symmetrical 66 (33 shots from tee-to-green and 33 putts) in 1926 Open qualifying was eloquently described by the golf writer Bernard Darwin as “incredible and indecent.” The course record of 62 on The Old Course is jointly held by Nick Faldo and Shane Lowry.
The Old Course scores just as highly in the quality and variety of its holes. After opening with a genial par 5, you’re treated to an intoxicating mix of elevated tees, blind shots, immense par 3s and a full repertoire of par 4s. Although the 10th hole is often cited as the Old’s signature – a
sweeping dog-leg from an elevated tee – nothing summarises the Sunningdale experience more accurately than the vistas from the 5th – lush green fairways, avenues of trees, splashes of sand, banks of heather and a pond.
Sunningdale Golf Club is often cited as an example of how the modern power-hitting tour pro is rendering classic courses obsolete but it’s more than long enough for most. Besides, the heavily-contoured greens, protected by swales and run-offs, are more than enough to keep you occupied.
Ironically, the Old concludes with one of its weaker holes but any slight sense of anti-climax is quickly dispelled by the sight of the majestic oak tree that guards the back of the 18th green. It’s not only the club’s emblem but a proud symbol of its quintessential Englishness.
Sunningdale Golf Club: The New Course
Sunningdale’s New Course is a par 70 heathland course that was designed by Harry Colt and Morrison, and was opened in 1923.
The New Course is a bit more rugged than the Old, with less bunkering and less tree-lined fairways. There are longer carries over the heathland though, and many say it’s a tougher test than the Old Course. Graeme Storm holds the course-record of 62, which is an incredibly impressive achievement on such a tough golf course.
Whilst both courses are visually spectacular, the New Course at Sunningdale Golf Club offers more pleasing views across the local area, as well as being the tighter golf course of the two.
Gary Lineker commented on The New Course: “It's tough - very tough. Whereas the Old Course at Sunningdale gives you a bit of a chance if you're wayward off the tee, the New doesn't give you an inch with heather lining the sides of almost every hole. The 4th must be the hardest stroke index 10 in the world: it's 475 yards, all uphill with heather tight into the edge of the fairway and a couple of bunkers guarding the green with a steep slope down to the right.”