Walton Heath (Old), England
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Walton Heath Golf Club
Deans Lane
Walton on the Hill
KT20 7TP
ArchitectHerbert Fowler
Head Professional/Director of GolfSimon Peaford
Telephone+44 (0) 1737 812380
Location2 miles N of M25 J8, 15 miles S of London
Websites Golf Club Website
VisitorsContact in advance - weekends limited
Club Secretary/ ManagerStuart Christie

Photos 1-6 by Charles Briscoe-Knight.


Both courses at Walton Heath Golf Club (Old & New) were designed by Herbert Fowler who was related by marriage to the founder, Sir Henry Cosmo Bonsor. “It was a stroke of genius on the part of Mr Herbert Fowler to see with his prophetic eye a noble golf course on the expanse of Walton Heath”, wrote Bernard Darwin. “It was in August 1902, that Mr Fowler had begun his survey. In April 1904 James Braid moved to Walton from Romford and in May the course was opened with a due flourish of trumpets,” wrote Darwin in the Biography of James Braid. James Braid remained the Walton Heath club professional until 1950.

Surprisingly, Walton Heath Golf Club was not given the royal charter, despite the fact that the Duke of Windsor was club captain in 1935. During his year as captain, he became King Edward VIII. Walton Heath is the only club in history to have a reigning monarch as its captain. His term as captain probably lasted longer than his reign on the throne. King George VI was also an honorary member and Winston Churchill played his golf here as a member from 1910-1965.

This is where links golf meets inland golf. There is no salty whiff of sea air, but the course plays and feels like a seaside links. A profusion of heather stripes the edge of the fairways. In the summer, when the heather is in flower, it is an absolute delight to look at, but a real challenge to play out of. The greens are true and fast and the undulations make it tough to read the lines and the pace of putts.

This is a course that favours the lower handicap golfer. Some of the carries across the heather are quite lengthy and if you don’t hit the fairways, you can often wave goodbye to your ball. There are some really strong holes on the Old course – one of the best of the outward nine is the 5th, a cracking 391-yard par four that demands a solid drive that must avoid the thick, tangly heather shrouding the fairway. A mid-iron approach shot will find the green, amply guarded by bunkers left and right.

The last three holes are especially challenging, especially the 16th, a 510-yard par five, well described by Bernard Darwin in his book The Golf Courses of the British Isles. In 1910, it was the 17th hole and it was played as a par four. “We must begin by hitting a long, straight drive between bunkers on the right and some particularly rete ntive heather  on the left, but that is, comparatively speaking, an easy matter. The second shot is the thing – a full shot right home on

Walton Heath played host to the 1981 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Europe. Team Captains were Dave Marr (US) and John Jacobs (Europe). The US Team comprised of players who held 36 Major Championship titles between them and they were simply too strong for the Europeans. Larry Nelson and Jack Nicklaus won eight points on their own while Nick Faldo could only claim a single point this time round. European debutants included Bernhard Langer, Jose Maria Canizares and Manuel Pinero but Seve Ballesteros (1980 Masters winner) was left out of the team for playing too much golf in America. USA 18 ½ - Europe 9 ½. The Ryder Cup was played at The Greenbrier in 1979 and at the PGA National in 1983.

to a flat green that crowns the top of a sloping bank. To the right the face of the hill is excavated in a deep and terrible bunker, and a ball ever so slightly sliced will run into that bunker as sure as fate. To the left there is heather extending almost to the edge of the green, and, in avoiding the right-hand bunker, we may very likely die an even more painful death in the heather.”

Walton Heath has hosted many important competitions, not least the 1981 Ryder Cup. Unfortunately, Europe was thrashed 9 ½ - 18 ½ by America, thanks to the likes of Watson and Nicklaus. For serious golfers, this is a fantastic venue for a golf day. Lunch in the clubhouse is simply stunning, well worth donning the jacket and tie, but probably worth passing on the dessert if you want to swing properly in the afternoon!

Bernard Darwin sums up Walton Heath perfectly: “There is no more charming place on a fine sunshiny day, none where the air is fresher and more cheering, none where the sky seems bigger.  It is a place where it is good for us, alike for our game and for ourselves, to play golf.”

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Average Reviewers Score:      
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In September I played the Old Course for a second time,& my fondness of the 18 holes has not diminished.from the long but fair par3 start it's a wonderful experience.I feel that it rewards good golf,a thinkers course,but also I good risk and reward on some of the par 5's that are reachable in two..the 14(?)&16(?).its main defence are the abundance of heather,have to say I lost a couple out there,which swallows up any loose shots.But that is part and parcel of one of the finest inland courses in the country,go and play it if you can..expensive but golf is about rememberable experiences,and WH Old is one you won forget.
02 November 2014 See other reviews from this reviewer
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I had the pleasure of playing the Old Course on Sunday the 1st of June. I’d heard just enough about the course to develop an expectation that it would be very good however, I have to admit it was considerably different than what I pictured. Since they had just hosted a qualifier for the US Open the course was in perfect nick.

I’d say it’s a course you need to be warmed up for as right out of the starting gate it doesn’t waste any time by throwing a 200 meter 3 shot hole right at you. The second hole was also a tough ask at 400 + meters. I’d imagine that it’s key in matches there to hold it together through the start then in my opinion the course seemed to ease off a bit. Or perhaps I was warm and the shell shock of the tough start was over.

What I loved about the course was the fantastic conditioning and firm and fast fairways and greens. The bunkering is fantastic and very strategic. While quite long from the back tees I’d say due to the excellent conditioning the course plays considerably shorter. It wasn’t a case of smashing drivers all day long which was nice.

The terrain is far more wide open than I had expected as well as much flatter. That also means that as long as you keep it in the fairways (and out of the centerline bunkers) you nearly always have a flat and near perfect lie to work with. The green complexes and surrounds were impeccable. They were running fairly quick and the surrounds were mown short with countless run-offs and collection areas to catch near misses. The greens were extremely large as well full of gentle undulations but hitting the greens and looking at a 20+ meter putt is not uncommon. This greatly adds to the challenge there. I think I had more long putts there than I can remember anywhere.

My favorite holes were oddly enough 15-18 which seemed an excellent set of closing holes coming in demanding excellent drives and solid approaches. In all a superb day on an excellent course that plays firm even after a wet period the way I believe all heathland courses should strive towards playing. I would also mention that it seems to be a fabulous members club with something for everyone, as challenging as want to make it yet a gentle enough walk for all levels.
06 October 2014 See other reviews from this reviewer
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Stunning. As a 36, this definitely challenges Sunningdale. Just a brilliant days golf. Apart from perhaps 1st and 18th, every hole is a great design and challenging. As good as the Old
06 October 2014 See other reviews from this reviewer
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Played this course many times and have never got bored. Both the New and the Old course have an excellent layout and some extremely challenging holes, for example the 5th and 12th of the New course and the 4th and the 18th on the Old course. If you are ever near the area then this is a fantastic course to play, or even spend the day and play both!
27 March 2014 See other reviews from this reviewer
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I played both old and new courses in one day recently. I have no doubt whatsoever, that this is the most over rated golf course in the top 100 simply because it is placed so highly in the list. Top 75 -yes -but I am astonished at its current high rating. Yes -the food at half time was excellent - top marks -2 roasts and a beef and ale pie and a vege alternative plus good starters and 3 puddings. A good cheese board. Very friendly accommodating staff in both club house and pro shop. BUT - firstly, I need not repeat the weird configuration of the place -stuck right in the middle of a housing estate. You play the first hole on the old (a somewhat boring par 3 of 200 yards) -and then you have to cross a busy road to play the 2nd - or if you are playing the new course- the first. Both courses are mainly predictable and lat - We preferred the new course but not by a lot. The layout is typical heathland but is it -for example, a better course than Hollinwell - No way ! Alwoodley _no way ? Little Aston -maybe -just. Luffenham Heath - yes -but not by a lot. Does it even belong to be mentioned in the same breath as the dozen great courses on the Lancashire coast - not a chance. Sunningdale - Wentworth- New Zealand- Wisley -Swinley Forest - NO ! Queenwood - forget it. The Kent and Sussex coast courses - get real ! Hunstanton - no -Woodhill Spa......(laughable even to mention it in the same breath) - The list could go on and on. How this place ever got rated so highly is a complete mystery to me.
05 April 2013 See other reviews from this reviewer
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Golfingpete27 May 2013
I feel it just to defend this golf course from your somewhat harsh remarks. To call this the most over-rated golf course inside of the top 100 is possibly a tad suprising. Having spent time in the golfing industry I strongly believe that no matter what the course, whether old, new, private or municipal they all have something to offer each and every golfer. I also understand that each golfer sees every course differently. However, having spent a day playing all 36 holes of this HEATHLAND golf course I find it a little odd that you should regularly compare it to the many links courses that you have listed. I also feel dissapointed that you should suggest it is surrounded by a housing estate as you can only see 4 houses from the entire 36 Holes. Perhaps you forget the many open championship courses that over the years have had its boundarys swathed with houses?! To call the courses predictable is of personal taste, if somewhat surprising. However, to compare the courses to such a contrasting list of golf courses that bare no resemblance to eachother is possibly a tad naive. I wish you well in your golfing odessey.
Young P28 May 2013
Isn't that precisely the point of this site - namely to rank and thereby compare different types of golf courses? If you didn't expect to find that here, then I'm not sure it's the original reviewer who is a tad naive.
sc hapman04 June 2013
i think the ' reviewer' should stick to reviewing puddings and cheese boards where his knowledge will be greatly appreciated.
JCBL06 June 2013
I think this course ranks so highly because it is a strong and varied technical test from the back tees from 1-18. it flows very well. I think even the mebers would admit however that there are prettier golf courses?
sam krume02 October 2013
You my friend are absolutely nuts. Walton is top class, definitely merits it ranking. I would guess that you didn't play particularly well at Walton and it beat you up, hence the comments
Jimmy23 April 2014
I've played this a few times and dont understand the fuss. Over-rated course. Greens not well maintained the last 2 times ive played. Outlook is boring and flat. Yes - a great technical course, but not much fun, and not much to look at. Environment is quite noisy around the edges of the course, and the clubhouse hasnt been updated since the 1950s.
dan15 July 2014
It really does sound as if you shot --teen points at walton and no doubt a 6 on the 'boring' first. How you can declare it overrated is slightly confusing to me - if you are judging on how well you played then maybe i would understand. You list many courses that shouldn't dare be 'mentioned in the same breath' but i don't supposed you've played half of them anyway!
Hugh22 July 2014
Woodhill Spa - definately the best course in Narnia?
dan23 July 2014
Haha it is laughable to mention woodhill spa in the same breath - because it doesn't exist! Know your facts before you start criticising quality courses.
Medius Viridus02 November 2014
A bizarre review,I've played Woodhall Spa,& yes I preferred that course but not by much.And each course has to be judged individually on how it feels as you walk the 18 holes.I actually prefer Royal Ashdown Forest Old to both,but others my simply loathe that course.It doesn't mean that any of the don't deserve the position in the top 100,it's all personal opinion and personally I think all those 3 are simply stunning
I played here in February as the cold wind blew out of the east from Siberia over the North sea. When the course is running hard and fast in the summer I am sure it presents a totally different challenge from the back tees but as it was wet we played from the forward tees. for February the course was in excellent shape. There is a great deal of variety on the links and you are asked to play all manner of shots as you journey out and back around the heath, avoiding the ubiquitous heather if you can. It's a great course over gently undulating ground. Each hole perfectly set from tee to green and well worth the visit. The Clubhouse is adorned with historic photos. We had a warm welcome, a generous lunch and will be back for more. James Lay
26 March 2013 See other reviews from this reviewer
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Played Nov 7th on a dry and sunny day. Reception, Visitors Locker Room, Pro Shop and Lunch were all that they should be. Staff pleasant and attentive. Hole 1 is a bit of a let down. Holes 2 thru 17 are not!! You cross the road and feel like you are entering the course proper. Despite some heavy rain during the previous few days, the greens were slick and true - really outstanding. The rest of the course was in excellent condition. Shame about the M25 noise around the turn, its the only downside to playing an excellent course. However, if given the opportunity I would play the course again in a heartbeat - a real classic.
08 November 2012 See other reviews from this reviewer
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We played WH Old Course on a cold (10°C) June day with a brutal 6 Bft SW gale and many showers, which made holes 3-8 extremely difficult to play and made the roar from the M25 quite deafening on holes 8 and 9. Due to lots of rain in the days before the course played even longer from the already long white tees. However, we thoroughly enjoyed it! Despite the wetness the course was in great condition, the greens fast and very true. The layout of the course itself – wow! Much more interesting than I expected and even in bad weather it is such a beauty. Behind that beauty is a beast though as missing fairways or greens is punished severely. The rough was high, the heather dense and a drive into a fairway bunker always will almost always result in a lost shot. This is no course for double-digit handicappers. We were very happy with the people in the club – the staff in the bar, the reception and the pro shop where very welcoming and helpful. Playing the final three holes in two under par helped to remember the trip very favorably. I am not giving the highest marks due the very high Green fee (135GBP), lack of a good practice facility and the M25. Would I go there again? Definitely, but probably later in summer.
12 June 2012 See other reviews from this reviewer
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Walton Heath is a top notch heathland course and in my opinion, second only to the might of Sunningdale in this part of the country. Granted, the clubhouse is not as traditional as many and yes, the monstrous putting green is a little peculiar. I would be more critical about the first hole had my sweetly-struck hybrid not landed five feet from the flag. So, get to Walton, get the long and dull opening par-3 out of the way, then cross the road and enjoy every moment. There's a string of five superb par-4s, followed by a sequence of varied and interesting challenges through the turn. For me, one of the stand-out holes is 12; a short dogleg right par-4 requiring not power, but precision from tee to green. The final three holes would serve as a perfect setting for a grandstand finish in any matchplay battles. The long downhill par-5 16th is followed by a 200-yard par-3 with a multi-tiered green. The closing hole is a lengthy uphill par-4, with a huge bunker defending the final green. I've only played the course once, but I can certainly recommend a visit in late August / early September as the heather blooms bright and brilliant purple. Superb.
15 November 2011 See other reviews from this reviewer
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Top quality golf course, can see why the pro's rate it so highly. Played off the white tees, so got the full value of the course. The course is tough right from the start - a 230 yard par 3 and it doesn't get much easier!!. Holes 1 to 8 are tough (with the 3rd a possible exception), they're long and heather lined that really punishes an errant shot. From 9 onwards the course plays a little easier, not quite as tight and with the par 5's on the back nine, which are reachable, a good score can be made. Deserves a 6 ball rating for the course, although if being picky the sound of the M25 and that you have to cross a busy road after the first hole to play the other 17 holes is not ideal. But having said that its truly superb and I really enjoyed it. I prefer Sunningdale as a setting but if judged on 'the course' I can't seperate them (even though they are different). A must play if you are a serious golfer.
15 August 2011 See other reviews from this reviewer
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