Sunningdale Heath is one of a new breed of family-friendly, informal and affordable golf clubs…
Sunningdale Heath Course Review
The original club here - Sunningdale Ladies - dates back to 1902.
It was an antidote to the common problem of its illustrious neighbour then being open only to male golfers.
Harry Colt had a key role in the layout of this very sporty short course, more than two decades before he designed Sunningdale New.
More recently, the club was struggling financially and needed to turn in a new direction.
Kristian Baker and Tom Reid are two successful golf coaches who met while working at nearby Wentworth.
In the summer of 2018, they teamed up with two of their golfing students and approached the membership with a proposal.
Their idea was to purchase the club and transform it into something more family-oriented and all-inclusive.
This has now happened, and the new set-up has been reborn as Sunningdale Heath Golf Club.
The club is thriving with a very healthy membership and active social life as well as the superb, state-of-the-art Ultimate Golf Studio
According to Tom, “We want to be known as an all-inclusive, premium venue, where you feel welcomed and get strong value for your investment.”
The course itself is a very entertaining, varied and attractive mix of mainly par 3s and a few short par 4s.
It naturally shares many characteristics of its famous neighbour, especially the heather that looks so fabulous in bloom and which can wreck your wrists and scorecard.
Sunningdale Heath Course Review
The course opens with a testing par 3 of 194 yards played over the road.
Two more tricky short holes follow before you reach the 4th - the longest hole on the course at 328 yards.
A similar 3, 3, 3, 4 configuration, full of variety, takes you to the 8th.
This is the furthest part of the course from the clubhouse.
The 9th is a short par 3 played to a slightly raised green.
If 10 and 11 are tough short holes, then at 236 yards, the slightly uphill 12th is an absolute brute.
The next four play in the same direction to the north-eastern edge of the course.
The 17th is another pretty short hole with a very inviting bunker waiting short and right.
Your extremely enjoyable round concludes, usually in something like 2½ hours, with the final short hole.
Green fees are remarkably modest for the area, and many elements will attract the golfers of tomorrow.
These include a faster round over an attractive and enjoyable course that is a challenge but which won’t beat you up.
Add into this affordability, informality and welcome, and Sunningdale Heath scores top marks.
The service, the catering and the drinks options are also very appealing.
Immediately adjacent to the two Top 10 UK&I courses at Sunningdale, this scaled-down version is the perfect introduction and breeding ground for golf on a grander scale.
There is a timeless quality here that makes you feel as though you have travelled back a century.
It is, in essence, Sunningdale Lite, and in an extremely good way.
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Rob Smith has been playing golf for 45 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012. He specialises in course reviews and travel, and has played more than 1,200 courses in almost 50 countries. In 2022, he played all 21 courses in East Lothian in 13 days. Last year, his tally was 81, 32 of them for the first time. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but seven and a half... i.e. not the new 9 at Carne! Of those missing, some are already booked for 2024. He is a member of Tandridge in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at email@example.com.
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