Beautifully contrasting Burhill

Old or New, you face a stiff challenge at this serene Surrey gem

Beautifully contrasting Burhill

I rolled up at Burhill expecting a pleasant round on one of England’s most esteemed golf courses. What I got was a history lesson.

“Paul Casey, Dick Turpin and Barnes Wallis all have something in common,” said my host for the day, who we’ll call Matt, for it is his name. “Do you know what it is?”

It seemed rather obvious the answer was Burhill. So I told him: “It seems rather obvious the answer is Burhill.”

Turns out I was right. Casey played his junior golf at the Surrey club, while the dastardly highwayman (Turpin that is, not the Ryder Cup star) once hid in the brick cottage located between the 14th and 15th holes, having stormed the fairway and told two startled golfers to “stand and deliver”. That last bit may not be true.

Bouncing bomb creator Wallis, meanwhile, worked on his brainchild at Burhill when the grand Georgian mansion clubhouse was requisitioned by the Ministry of Aircraft in 1940.

But despite such famous (and infamous) connections, Burhill Golf Club is rather undeservingly less well known than its nearby Surrey neighbours. So let’s talk golf…

The Old Course

What makes a golf course for you? For me, it’s the par-3s. I’m a firm believer that par-3s should be around 140 to 160 yards in length with plenty of hazards around to really test your short game.

The 17th at Sawgrass is quite an extreme example of this. But you catch my drift.

The Old Course at Burhill Golf Club, opened in 1907 by Willie Park Jnr, widely considered the first true genius of course architecture, features four stunning par-3s.

The first, the 144-yard sixth, is a real test of your mettle. Playing uphill to two-tier undulating green, pull up short and you’re in the sand. Miss the sand and you have quite an daunting second shot. Go long and you’re in the sand. Go longer and you’re hitting three off the tee.

Think that’s intimidating? The second par-3, the 209-yard tenth, allows little space either side. If you’re not on the dancefloor, you’re best bet here is to find the greenside bunker. This advice has nothing to do with the fact that this is exactly what I did…

The final two par-3s, the 13th and 16th, are both around the 150-yard mark. And while that doesn’t sound a lot, small greens protected on all four sides by bunkers and dense woodland will leave you needing to be at your most accurate.

Holes like this are the reason I love golf so much. But amongst the par-3s on Burhill’s Old Course are some absolute gems.

For what is a relatively short course at just 6,479 yards, the 583-yard third is an absolute monster. Get on here in three and you’ll be happy. The next hole is a short par-4, but anything wayward will see your score rack up.

The seventh was probably my favourite hole on the course. A dogleg round to the left with a sunken green well guarded by sand and trees. A decent drive and clean 9-iron will help you enjoy this hole a lot more!

The 11 th provides a stunning view across Surrey as you hit down into the valley, while the really long hitters will enjoy the 325-yard par-4 12th with a sloping fairway that feeds down into the green.

14 and 15 provide stern tests of your long game, though watch out for devious highwaymen, while the Old Course finishes with the very deceptive 18. The front-to-back sloping green will leave you cursing if you are over-cautious with your club selection.

Everything about the Old Course oozes class, from the grand clubhouse right down to the bunkers which, in 2007, were restored to their Willie Park Jnr era pomp, popping up along fairways to deceive and attract the eye.

The tee shot at the daunting ninth has you staring down three gaping sandy hollows in the bend of the dogleg to devour anything remotely wayward. But you can’t help but love the intentionally scraggy backs of these ragged and natural bunkers.

Bring your A-game for Burhill’s Old Course. A true tactical challenge requiring a carefully-plotted route from each tee.

Click here for an overview of the New Course and more information on Burhill Golf Club...

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