Hayling Golf Club Course Review
GF £100 Mon-Thurs (£120 per day); £120 Fri-Sun; Twilight £50-£60
Par 71, 6,529 yards
GM Verdict – One of Hampshire’s finest, offering a relatively rare true links experience along the central part of England’s south coast.
Favourite Hole – The long par-4 12th is a cracker of a hole both strategically and visually, with the green cut into a low shelf in the dune ridge.
While we may be renowned for our links courses within these shores, our coastline runs for many thousands of miles, so it’s perhaps inevitable that certain stretches should be somewhat less blessed than others. That holds true of the south coast along the Channel, where top-quality links courses are surprisingly few and far between from Rye in Sussex down to Devon.
One notable exception is Hayling, one of the best golf courses in Hampshire, laid out over pure linksland in the south-west corner of the inverted T-shaped island between Chichester and Portsmouth, with views out over the Solent. The links starts with a 179-yard par 3 whose difficulty levels vary according to wind direction, before offering up a relatively gentle par 5 – the first of just a trio of three-shotters - to help you perhaps recoup any dropped shots on the opener.
From here to the finish, it poses a wonderfully enjoyable links test, with a perfect balance of scoring holes and holes more likely to get one over on you. Overall, the run for home is particularly testing into the wind, and even the par-3 16th, with the wind helping in such conditions as the links switches briefly back the other way, will test your ability to stop your ball downwind on a firm, slightly raised green.
Founded in 1883, Hayling is one of England’s oldest courses, with J.H. Taylor making major revisions in 1905. Back then, the layout featured a number of shots over sandhills rather than along the valleys between them – much as at Royal St George’s in the early days – but as tastes in course design changed, Tom Simpson was eventually drafted in in 1933 to redesign things such that the holes played mostly along the valleys rather than up and over them. As a result, Hayling offers up relatively few blind shots. In 2002, the club proudly unveiled its distinctive new Art Deco-style white clubhouse, while further modifications have taken place out on the links over the past decade under the guidance of Mackenzie and Ebert’s Tom Mackenzie, mainly bunker work.
After the risk-reward short par-4 10th, which you might be tempted to have a go at, especially downwind, some might argue that the par-3 11th, playing directly towards the sea, with its well-bunkered, raised green, is the visual star. But you then turn right to take on the long and testing 462-yard 12th, where a stirring green setting, cut into the right-hand dune ridge, perhaps just gives it the edge in any ‘signature hole’ stakes. Par here is always cause for celebration.
Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...
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