By Sam Tremlett
Sam Tremlett went to play this hidden Hampshire course recently and enjoyed it immensely.
Hartley Wintney Golf Club Review
Situated at the edge of the small but pleasant town of Hartley Wintney in Hampshire lies 18 narrow and winding holes that are sure to test even the most accomplished of golfers.
Hartley Wintney Golf Club was originally founded in 1891 and started out as a nine-hole course which extended to an estimated 1,967 yards. However the ravages of war left the club dormant until 1920 when it was revived with the help of long-serving professional Billy Butt.
As the 20th century kept rolling on, more and more people were calling for the course to be extended which eventually happened at the start of the new millennium. A further nine-holes were added (holes 3-7 and 13-16) to take the course up to 6,277 yards off the white tees. Additionally a major renovation and refurbishment was done on the clubhouse to complete the quality aesthetics and feel of the place.
I was lucky enough to get to play this charming little course recently with Golf Monthly editor Michael Harris, who is a member of Hartley Wintney, and Golf Monthly Digital Writer Elliott Heath.
The first offers a fairly innocuous start measuring only 302 yards however having not swung a club yet, I did not have the confidence to get the big stick out. Top tip from me here is to hit some balls on the range and then make a decision on whether to hit an iron short of the uphill slope in the fairway, or have a swing with the driver.
The second is another hole that eases you into the round nicely. Again it measures 302 yards but unlike the first it has a slight dogleg to the left which makes the second shot a lot more challenging.
The 3rd is the first of the new holes and it is not outrageous to think it had been there from the very beginning. Indeed had our host not told me about the newer 9 holes then I would probably have been none the wiser. They fit in place excellently.
Back to the 3rd, it appears to be a simple par-3 but the wind is usually into your face and when you combine that with the uphill gradient then you could be hitting several clubs more than usual. Definitely take a par here and move on.
For me, the strongest stretch of holes on the course is from the eighth to the tenth.
The eighth is a dog-leg par-5 that measure 497 yards off the whites. The tee shot requires a slight fade off the tee so provided you get the correct shape you could see yourself having a go for the green in two. One thing to be wary of though is people playing on the first green past the flag and also people playing on the 9th and 12th tees to the right hand-side of the green. Other than that, this hole is definitely a birdie opportunity.
The par-3 9th is next up and this was my favourite hole on the course. 174 yards in total, it plays slightly downhill and yet the wind plays into your face here so getting the right club is difficult and essential if you want to make par or better. Plenty of trees left and right narrow the entrance to the green and the five bunkers that sit around the green create a tiny target for you to hit into. It is a lovely hole and the most visually pleasing of the 18.
The penultimate par-5 on the course is the 10th hole and like the 8th it also provides a birdie opportunity. It sounds like a cliché to say you have to find the fairway off the tee but it is the highest of priorities here. Trees lurk on both sides of the narrow fairway and there are also a couple of ditches to make sure you clear. Because of the hole playing uphill only the longer hitters will stand a chance of getting on in two and the ideal line to the green is the largest tree that sits behind the green. Aim at that and a birdie chance is on the table but out of bounds lurks to the right. Be careful that’s all I’m saying.
In fact that last line could be used to describe the entire experience of playing at Hartley Wintney. It is not long and there are good scores out there to be had, but stray off line a bit and it will bite you. Pretty much every single shot you will be presented with a small target so accuracy is the name of the game and knowing your yardages is of paramount importance too.
Despite playing horribly I had a lot of fun during the round. The several quirky holes are enjoyable, the greens roll well and the overall condition of the course was excellent.
Also I recommend stopping in the new clubhouse for a pint and the absolutely delicious southern fried chicken goujons.
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