The Takeaway: A course with a storied history, Walton Heath features a bizarre opening hole before delivering several high quality offerings; particularly through the middle of the course. While not quite a Top 10 course in England, it isn't far from it. Grade A-
Designer: Herbert Fowler 1903 (Charles Gibson 1891 original 9 holes, Herbert Fowler 1910, C.H. Alison and Alister MacKenzie 1923)
Cost: £120 - £250 Click for current rates
Phone Number: +44 1737 812060
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Walton Heath Golf Club (Old)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Deans Lane, Walton-on-the-Hill, Tadworth KT20 7TP – UNITED KINGDOM
What to Expect: While perhaps suffering from one of the worst opening holes one could drum up on such an accomplished course, Walton Heath bounces back with a quality offering once players cross the road for holes 2-18. As the logo indicates, heather is the most prolific obstacle to avoid on the course and the bunkering is well conceived. The layout is also pretty open compared to some other heathland courses that have more trees come into play. The setting suffers from a plethora of cars racing up and down the M25 that borders the course as well as the constant traffic of walkers/joggers on the walking path framing the left side of the opening holes. The inward nine trumps the outward holes in terms of quality and intrigue, however the 2nd hole does stand as one of the finest offerings on the property. The 8th green and 9th tee represent the highpoint of the property and also the beginning of Walton's best stretch of holes. As is common with most courses in the UK, players will be required to walk but can rent a trolley to help tote their clubs around. When the Ryder Cup was held here in 1981, the U.S. won 18 ½ - 9 ½ which was the largest margin of victory over a European squad until 2021.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 2nd Hole – 461 Yard Par 4 – After one of the worst opening holes I can think of for a highly lauded course, Walton Heath bounces back with vengeance by delivering a top shelf hole that quickly redeems the Old course. The hole plays downhill before doglegging from left to right while the fairway slopes from right to left; putting a premium on the tee shot. The approach shot plays uphill to a nearly square green with no protection other than a slick putting surface. While not highlighted in this review, the 391 yard 5th stands as another signature hole contender with its attractive downhill approach to an undulated green tucked in by the trees.
Best Par 3: 11th Hole – 222 Yards – A high quality one-shotter, the 11th is one of the best bunkered holes on the course with a quartet of sand pits protecting every side except the back. The deep sod faces on the bunkers will require players to go out backwards or to the side if snuggling up too close to the wall. With a green that slopes in a Redan-like fashion, it is wise to favor the right half of the green when taking aim and let the ball trundle down from there.
Best Par 4: 10th Hole – 442 Yards – Holes 10-14 are often lauded as some of Walton Heath's finest, and when you tee off you'll see why. The tee shot plays downhill to a landing area that the golfer cannot see, but the green is visible in the distance and gives away that the fairway bends to the right. M25 and a tree line forms the left boundary of the hole while heavy fescue and a couple of trees are found up the right side. Hitting the fairway is paramount to success given there aren't any bailout areas, and playing up the left side is ideal to help take the right greenside bunker out of play.
Best Par 5: 16th Hole – 535 Yards – The sweeping 16th is the Old course's final and best par five. There aren't any fairway bunkers to account for off the tee, so swing away with confidence and find the short grass. Success on this hole is all about navigating the cave-like bunker at the front right of the green which is deeper than any other hazard on the course. There is plenty of room left of the green so keeping your ball up that side is the best recipe for success.
Birdie Time: 3rd Hole – 289 Yard Par 4 – A hole that is begging to be aggressively played, this sub-300 yard par four is driveable from the tee with two bunkers to be aware of. One is up the left side short of the green that comes into play if players are too aggressive with their layup shot or misexecute hitting their driver. At the front right corner of the green is a second bunker that will come into play more often with its high face. But with plenty of room to drive the ball and not enough defense to respect, the 3rd is a hole you want to be walking away with a birdie more often than not.
Bogey Beware: 4th Hole – 519 Yard Par 4 – Well, I hope you enjoyed the easy 3rd hole because the 4th counters with a par four that tips out over 500 yards. Not only is the length a challenge, a center bunker lurks with high brows and must be avoided for any chance of reaching the green in regulation. A peculiar heather-dotted mound sits in the fairway less than 100 yards from the green and acts mostly to block a view of the putting surface when approaching from the left side of the fairway. The bunkers in front of the green are not tucked next to the putting surface, so make sure to take enough club to clear them otherwise you'll be faced with a terribly awkward bunker shot. This hole is a beast, just get through it and move on.