Par 69, 6,402 yards
GM Verdict A fine, well-bunkered test of golf played through beautiful, mature parkland
Favourite Hole The very attractive but quite testing par-3 8th
While the use of ‘Mid’ in a golf club’s name usually means that it is located the heart of that county, that is not the case here. Instead, it is an indication that the course is right on the boundary between Surrey and Middlesex. That border is actually the River Thames, although magnificent trees to the right of the 9th, 15th and 16th mean that you don’t actually get to see it. It features amongst the best golf courses in London.
JH Taylor had a hand in many Top 100 Golf Courses, and it was he who designed what was formerly known as the Outer Course during his time serving as the club’s professional. He was the first of three Open Champions to serve in the role, the others being Henry Cotton and Max Faulkner. The club was granted Royal status in 1926 when the Prince of Wales was in office as Captain. Fire destroyed the clubhouse twenty years ago in less than an hour, but the resulting new structure features all mod-cons and can cater for any type of function.
THE FRONT NINE
Enhanced by a substantial but totally sympathetic upgrade in 2013/14, the easy-walking course has always been a strong test of golf despite its relatively modest yardage.
It opens with a quite demanding one-shotter, a fearsome 225 yards from the very back but still a very inquisitive 183 yards from the regular tees. The next is one of just two par 5s and plays every inch, while the 3rd is gentle dogleg to the left.
One of the architect’s signature traits was to create areas of low peaks and hollows, and these are very much in evidence throughout, including to the right of the par-4 4th.
The next three are all very well protected by sand and call for an aerial approach, starting with the SI18 par-3 5th.
The cross-bunker at the next is some 20 yards from front to back, while the 7th should only be a short iron for the second.
The par-3 8th is one of my favourite holes on the course, played over a pond and wetland area that attracts varied species of wildlife. There is more water on the 9th that shouldn’t come into play and where you may be lucky enough to see a heron stalking its lunch.
THE BACK NINE
The 10th is another tough par 4 - the course’s defining characteristic - and there is then a short hole played up beside the welcoming halfway house.
Suitably refreshed, the next hole is a long par 4 played down towards the Royal Observatory. This is followed by the 13th, a short par 4 and a chance to get one back on the card.
Next comes the only other par 5, one which is played to a very well framed green with a dip just in front. Fifteen is another tough two-shotter, while sixteen is the final par 3 and is around 200 yards depending on your choice of tee.
I am a great fan of the 17th which is my idea of a design that pleases both in terms of strategy and looks. The bunkering is excellent, and the long, raised green means that distance for the approach is as important as direction.
You finish with a fine two-shotter, testing but hopefully not a card-wrecker.
The JH Taylor Course at Royal Mid-Surrey is one of real strength in depth. While there is not really an individual standout wow-factor hole, there is also no weak one. There are birdie chances and also plenty of holes you would be delighted to par. With the second, shorter course providing a very enjoyable alternative, this is a club with something for everyone.
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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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