Tucked away in an idyllic corner of Surrey, the Woking Golf Club was first laid out by Tom Dunn in 1893, though it owes most of its appeal to a brilliant set of greens created by members Stuart Paton and John Low during the early 1900’s. Paton and Low transformed Woking from an ordinary layout into a strategic classic and so impressive were their green site creations that they inspired club member Tom Simpson to pursue a career in golf course architecture.
The pair’s first significant collaboration was to add central principal’s nose style bunkers and a tilted green to the previously bland and straightaway short par four 4th, which heads along a railway line. Simpson was apparently so taken with the new hole that he once spent an entire day studying it, although others like the long valley par three 2nd and the uphill par four 3rd, with its bowl-shaped putting surface, are equally interesting. As are the early back nine holes that head back and forth across nice crests and valleys and through the thickest cover of heather on the property. The 11th, 12th and 13th are all excellent holes dominated by great greens, the 12th being reminiscent of the famous 14th green at Augusta National while the 13th is a brilliant target cut by a gully, with three or four distinct sections that are the devil to putt across should you find the wrong area.
There are several other outstanding holes here but the overriding impression of Woking is its total absence of any commonplace moments. Though some are turned off by the lack of championship length, if you can look at its holes through nostalgic eyes and resist the impulse to propel that new Titleist down each fairway with your heaviest and most high-tech artillery, you will definitely enjoy this test and appreciate the quality of a design that remains as intelligent today as it was when first created.
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