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Stoneham Golf Club Course Review
GF Round: £65-£100 Mon, Tues, Thurs only
Par 72, 6,375 yards
GM Verdict – An excellent Willie Park Junior heathland layout just to the north of Southampton boasting great variety with five par 5s and five par 3s.
Favourite Hole – The 13th is a very short par 4 to a blind green - classic risk-reward for those brave or foolish enough to take it on.
A journey south-west out of London down the A3 or M3 corridors through Surrey and Hampshire takes you past a number of England’s finest heathland layouts, among them the UK&I Top 100 courses at Sunningdale, The Berkshire and Hankley Common. One of the less widely known gems lies at the far end just north of Southampton where the M3 meets the M27. Stoneham, undoubtedly one of the best golf courses in Hampshire, is a Willie Park Junior creation that opened for play in 1908 with a challenge match between James Braid and J.H.Taylor
Not only is this a great place to play golf, it is also one of a growing breed of clubs that have been taking great strides of late to improve their courses significantly while also seeking to reinstate elements of their original design philosophy and ‘feel’. In Stoneham’s case, this meant ‘Project 2020’, a five- to six-year programme overseen by busy golf course architect, Ken Moodie, to elevate Stoneham’s reputation, improve course conditioning and further enhance its Willie Park Junior credentials and heritage.
Narrow heather- or tree-lined fairways will test your accuracy, while slopes and drop-aways around many greens mean it’s significantly easier to score if you find the target – unless you’re blessed with Seve’s short game. Five par 3s and five par 5s, the latter including the relatively gentle opener and the uphill finale, make Stoneham a very sporting layout that is essentially an anti-clockwise outer loop followed by a clockwise inner loop.
The par 3s offer great variety and beauty, ranging in length from 132 to 228 yards, but if you’re looking for a cracking back-to-back duo, the par-5 12th and par-4 13th take some beating, the latter barely half the former’s length. The 12th plays stirringly down to a green backed by a copse, while the 13th is the kind of hole every course should have – a teasingly tempting sub 300-yarder played blind to a long narrow green, where you’ll probably be unable to resist having a go.
That closing par 5 plays uphill to a green flanked by three bunkers on the left and two on the right. Miss to the left and it may take a Phil Mickelson flop shot to coax it close!
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...
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
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