Our review - Sunningdale Old Course
Great golf courses are gregarious and can be found in clusters because of the topography of the land over which they are laid out. So we find a constellation of superb links in Fife, or around Merseyside, and a gathering of excellent heathland courses in Lincolnshire and surrounds.
Added to this can be another conglomerate, in and around the sand-based soil of commuter belt Surrey and Berkshire. Topping the list are the two courses at Sunningdale – the Old, designed by Willie Park Jr and the New, laid out by Harry Colt.
They are both of such a high standard that many find it difficult to choose between them but for us the Old just shaves it. The magnificent Bobby Jones once played what was described as the perfect round of golf here, shooting 66 that consisted of 33 swings and 33 putts, where the score on every hole was a three or four.
Too short in the modern age to host great tournaments, Sunningdale is nevertheless a wonderful place to spend a day.
15th Best Golf Course in the UK
Our review - Sunningdale New Course
There are several places in the UK where two courses complement each other so well, and the challenge you face on each is so exacting, that it is almost impossible to separate them in terms of quality or enjoyability.
Sunningdale is such a place.
If proof were needed, it plays host to Europe’s International final qualifying for the Open Championship, and this takes place over two rounds on the Old and New – so if the R&A cannot separate them in terms of quality, neither can we.
While the Old, which opened in 1901, was designed by Willie Park Jr, the club secretary, Harry Colt, laid out the new, which opened in 1923. Between them they have hosted both amateur and professional events far too numerous to mention and few, if any, of the world’s best players have anything but praise for the experience they offer.
Sir Michael Bonallack has said: ‘All that one would hope to find in the ideal golf club is in abundance at Sunningdale.’ Amen to that.
22nd Best Golf Course in the UK
Sunningdale ranks as one of the premier clubs of England and it has never stooped to tricking up the course for major competition. It is difficult enough in all conscience and also hauntingly beautiful. There are few more exhilarating sights than the view from the high 10th tee across an inviting valley, with the fairway rising to the wooded horizon. Behind the green, discreetly camouflaged but never out of mind, even if out of sight, is the halfway house where the grateful golfer can refresh the inner man. If there is one hole in England which fantasists would like to take them into banishment on a desert island it must be the tenth at Sunningdale.
Bobby Jones wished that he could take the entire course back with him to America. He did in fact take back cherished memories of Sunningdale and incorporated many of them in Augusta National. His enchantment was enhanced by his experience in the Open championship qualifying round of 1926. He played what has often been described (mistakenly) as the perfect round of golf, 33 shots and 33 putts for a highly satisfying 66. There have been many other notable rounds on the Old, a devastating 63 by Norman von Nida to clinch the Dunlop Masters and later a 64 by Gary Player to set the young South African off on his illustrious career. Sunningdale did not regard these scores as affronts but accepted them as confirmation of the rare skills of the golfers.
Within the club there is a faction which holds that the New Course, designed by Harry Colt and added in the twenties, is the superior course. This is by no means an eccentric view, for the New, with its combination of richly wooded and open heath land holes, is also superb in its own way. It is different but hardly inferior to its famous companion and the Sunningdale club is indeed doubly blessed in the quality and variety of its golf.
Sunningdale Golf Club was founded on 12th March 1900 when a Founders’ Committee under the direction of the Club’s Founders, Tom and George Roberts, met in the Café Monico in London. It was agreed to impose an annual subscription of 5 guineas and admit “200 gentlemen as original members”.
Willie Park Jnr., son of Open Champion Willie Park was given £3,000 to design and create a course of exemplary character.
The Club’s first professional was Jack White of East Lothian, who won the Open Championship in 1904 at Royal St. Georges, Sandwich. He was a nephew of Ben Sayers.
Harry S. Colt was employed as the Club’s first Secretary at an annual salary of £150.
The Club took out an insurance to protect the clubhouse premises “from retribution by Suffragettes”. In 1903 the Club staged the first professional matchplay championship sponsored by the News of the World. It was won by James Braid.
Harry Colt designed the New Course in 1922.
Major Championships have been staged in every decade of Sunningdale’s history and its Champions include James Braid, Harry Varden, Bobby Jones, Max Faulkner, Bobby Locke, Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Bob Charles, Gary Player, ian Woosnam, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer.
Lady winners include Joyce Wethered, Judy Rankin, Nancy Lopez, Si Re Pak Annika Sorenstam and Karen Stupples.