The excellent tree-lined course at West Byfleet is both a strong test and great fun...
West Byfleet Golf Club Course Review
The course at West Byfleet Golf Club opened for play in 1906 and sits on a narrow parcel of land next to the railway.
It was designed by Cuthbert Butchart, the first professional at nearby West Hill.
At this time, the club had the rather less appealing name of Bleakdown, but it was bought by the members in 1922 and renamed.
Since then it has continued to thrive, and is now a lively and friendly club with a strong membership and many low-handicappers.
The Front Nine
The course opens with three strong par 4s, the first of which is a slight dogleg from left to right.
It is easy to be blocked out, so long and left is good.
The par-3 4th is the shortest hole on the course and a real birdie chance, while the 5th is all about positioning from the tee.
At 427 yards, the 6th is a demanding par 4 that runs from left to right.
The 7th is the first of two par 5s and the longest hole on the course.
The front nine finishes with two shortish par 4s where a hybrid from the tee may well pay dividends.
The Back Nine
With just a one-tee start, the 10th is actually some way from the clubhouse.
It is also stroke index one, so a good drive is essential here.
The 11th is one of three short holes on the back nine, while the 12th has a blind drive over the brow of a gentle hill before the approach to another attractively-bunkered green.
Most people will consider the extremely pretty par-3 13th to be the signature hole.
The pond will worry some golfers, but even from the back tee it is only 160 yards.
The next three are all two-shotters that work their way from left to right, especially so at the 14th.
The 15th is not only long, but also has one of the most difficult greens on the course.
The 16th is almost a double dogleg - right to left from the tee, then back to the right again up the slope.
Seventeen is the final short hole, and is the toughest of the four with a very well bunkered green.
A short par 5 to close raises hopes of a birdie to finish, or even better for the longer hitter.
If you have managed to keep the ball straight at West Byfleet - somewhat easier said than done - then there is every chance of a decent score.
The club is continuing to invest in subtle and sympathetic improvements to its very appealing course.
It is now looking forward to celebrating its centenary in 2022 in style.
In a county that is packed with more top-quality golf than seems fair, West Byfleet can hold its head up high.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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