Sunningdale Golf Club - Old Course Review

Sunningdale's Old Course is a classic heathland layout and one of the world's very best

The 7th hole at Sunningdale pictured
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Sunningdale Golf Club - Old Course Review

The Old Course at Sunningdale Golf Club, a Willie Park Jnr design that was opened for play in 1901, is a superb heathland layout set amidst the pines with heather-lined fairways leading to fabulous playing surfaces that are famously smooth and true.

The positive effects of a newly installed irrigation system see this classic heathland track climbs two places into the top-10 of the Golf Monthly UK&I top 100 golf course rankings and it is top of the list when it comes to the best inland courses in the UK.

There’s tremendous variety to be found on the Old Course with brilliant par-3s, a number of classic short par-4s, together with some testing longer holes. The front nine begins gently with a straightforward par-5 but the challenge ramps up with the long and difficult right-to-left 2nd.

There follows a succession of truly memorable holes from the short, uphill par-3 4th to the downhill par-4 5th and then the majestic par-4 7th, with a blind drive and a visual treat when you get over the crest of the hill, and the picturesque par-3 8th.

Then, after the turn, the 10th tee provides the golfer with tremendous views, with the fairway sweeping away towards Sunningdale’s excellent and always much-anticipated halfway hut.

The Old is a course that demands precision and clear strategy. There are a number of tees from which the temptation is to hit the driver, but the prudent play is to favour positioning over length. It’s a track where you’ll likely use every club in the bag over the 18 holes.

Walking up the final hole towards the striking clubhouse and the iconic old oak tree, one gets a sense of the golfing gravitas exuded by the place. Sunningdale Golf Club occupies an important place within the sport.

Sunningdale enjoys a rich competitive history and the club has played host to numerous significant events over the years. As early as 1903, Sunningdale welcomed the world’s best players for the News of the World Match Play, an event won by James Braid. In 1926, Bobby Jones qualified for The Open Championship over the Old Course at Sunningdale with two incredible rounds of 66 and 68.

The club has hosted professional tournaments on the European Tour plus, the Walker Cup of 1987, the Women’s British Open on four occasions, the Senior Open three times.

Sunningdale Golf Club is home to two of the best golf courses in England, with the New Course just as excellent, and a day at this stunning venue is about as good as it gets as a golfer.

SUNNINGDALE GOLF CLUB OLD COURSE SCORECARD

Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course scorecard

(Image credit: Sunningdale Golf Club)

CAN I PLAY SUNNINGDALE GOLF CLUB?

Sunningdale is a private members club but both the Old and New courses are available to play for visitors between Monday to Thursday. Getting a tee time can prove difficult so make sure to book well in advance - email the club for more (opens in new tab). You can also book on the Sunningdale website (opens in new tab).

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO PLAY SUNNINGDALE?

Sunningdale has two of the best courses in the UK and the green fees put it up there with the most expensive green fees in the UK, too. A round on either the Old or New courses costs £325 from April to October in 2023, whilst you can play both courses in one day for £550.

SUNNINGDALE OLD COURSE TOP 100 RANKING UK&I

  • 2021/22 - 9
  • 2019/20 – 11
  • 2017/18 - 12
  • 2015/16 - 13
  • 2013/14 - 14
  • 2011/12 - 20
  • 2009/10 - 21

CHANGES SINCE PREVIOUS RANKING

None in terms of design, but a new irrigation system installed on the Old Course through the winter of 19/20 proved highly effective through the summer of 2020.

ASSESSOR FEEDBACK

This masterpiece is as natural a layout as exists. The course appears to be threaded like an emerald ribbon through the columns of trees. This is my favourite inland course. From the car park, there’s no better view than of the course, the giant oak and the attractive and characterful clubhouse.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?