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Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Wondrous WORPLESDON GC New
« on: January 29, 2011, 12:09:21 PM »
Joyce Wethered in 1922.


 

Most famous for hosting the Mixed Foursomes scratch competition every fall since 1921, Worplesdon's most acclaimed member, Joyce Wethered, won the event eight times with seven different partners...including once with Bernard Darwin.  Molly Gourlay of nearby Camberley Heath, an architect who worked with Tom Simpson also won this event twice. It should also be noted that J Wethered was the club President from 1963 until 1997, the year she died.

Despite being less than 6500 yards from the back markers, Willie Park Jr was able to route a course which uses the rolling land to enhance the difficulty.  Fairways tend to be quite generous, although gaining the best angle for creating options of approach is at a premium.  Abercromby is thought to have designed the greens and bunker scheme. Although, the course features many large front- to- back and two/three tiered greens mixed with a variety of more subtle surfaces which are Park Jr hallmarks. Sometime in the early 30s, Colt was called upon to revise the bunkering and it is clear the bunker scheme we see today is very different from that shown in aerials of 1922.  It could well be that the precise nature of approaching on #s 4, 5, 11, 12, 13 and 15 are down to his handy work.  No matter who is responsible, Worplesdon features many very well placed bunkers.  Regardless of the exact attributions, any course with contributions by Colt, Abercromby Braid and Park Jr is bound to impress and Worplesdon is indeed impressive.  In recent years the club has undertaken a programme of tree removal and underbrush clearance to great effect.  Interior views have opened up and play from the many stands of trees is more than possible. Although it should be said that many more trees could easily be removed and none would be the wiser.   

 
 
The 1st strikes me as the perfect opener; a fairly short hole with an inviting downhill drive, but enough trouble to vex the golfer and cause a regretable five to be written on the card.
 

One of at least a half dozen holes where the landing zone cannot be seen, the blind drive second plays along a hill which turns drives hard right into the low part of the fairway toward tree trouble.  Like the first, the green is quite subtle.  Below is an interesting take on bunker presentation for some fairway pits, instead of heather, the goal seems to be a meadow top look.  Indeed, except for a few areas it is difficult to tell Worplesdon is meant to be a heathland course. 
 

#3 turns back on the second and runs parallel with the practice ground on the lowest part of the property.  This mid-length two-shotter features three key ingredients, a centre-line bunker, a green running boldly from front right to rear left and the appealing backdrop of the 1st fairway which signals there is a play long.


The set of 3s is excellent and very diverse, the fourth takes the golfer back to the house making for a convenient boozer's loop, one of a handful provided by the routing.   


The hole was quite a bit more intimidating back in the day.


The fifth hole is the first with the call of heather beckoning...all down the right.  A wonderful bunker crowds the left, on the exact line of safety.  A double dip shy of the green makes for an interesting blind approach. 




The short three-shot sixth plays over an attractive top shot bunker then blindly downhill.  A birdie is certainly on the cards, but one must guard against being over-zealous on the approach.  There are hidden bunkers to the rear of the swiftly backsliding green.  Below is a look at the green from the 7th tee.


Deceptively uphill, the two-tier 7th looks more fearsome than it is, but a par of 3 is an excellent score. 


The opening seven holes and the 18th are fairly bunched together without being crowded.  The following three holes are more secluded in nature.  The eighth plays less than its yardage suggests and many flat bellies must fancy their chances of reaching this unseen green with a big drive.  The main defense for this hole is its severe two-tier green with the back tier running with the grade of the downhill approach.


If there is a disappointing hole on the front nine its the ninth, though it isn't easy by any means.  The hole bends right around water and finishes up at a rather deceptively non-descript green tucked near the property boundary.  I say deceptive because the green looks flat but moves alarming from left to right and toward the rear.  Below is an old photo of the hole when the tees were further forward. 


The back nine is reminiscent of Berkshire Red with its configuration of three 3s, three 4s and three 5s.  More importantly, there is a remarkable variety in each of the groups which is hard pressed to be outclassed anywhere in the heathlands.  Most unusually, a par 4 is not encountered until playing the last hole in the secret garden across the Guildford Road. 

The short 10th plays over Bridley Pond, but it is the three tier green which marks this as a good hole.  The final tier, where the hole is often located, is split by a prominent ridge.  Once again, there is bunkering to the rear which may give pause to the naturally aggressive player. 




After making the perilous road crossing the golfer arrives at the high point of Worplesdon for it is these four marooned holes which could arguably be the best on the course.  The most famous of the lot is the 11th.  Routed over attractively rolling ground, this hole bears its teeth for those having a go at the green in two.  The bunkering creates a zig zag effect whereby it is important to make the final approach from the right.  The left green-side bunkering extends forward of the putting surface making the play from the same side difficult to judge.  The 11th is famous, but the 12th is I think the  superior hole. It is thought the green is by the hand of Willie Park Jr.


If one successfully takes on the nest of bunkers he is left with a daunting approach to this short par 5.  The other option is to lay-up left and trust to your wedge and putter.


The thirteenth could be besmirched as a dumb blonde, but there surely must be some allowances for a lovely set piece such as this.  Don't be fooled by the beauty of this hole because it's penal design has effectively created an island green which is very difficult to hit.   


An old photo of the hole.


Another old photo of the hole!


The final hole in this oasis is perhaps the most testing par 4 on the course.  The centre-line bunker and hump make it difficult to ascertain the yardage home.  However, don't lose sight of the significant bunker guarding the left flank off the tee; it is a further carry than it seems.   






The walk back over the Guildford Road isn't something to look forward to, but I think most would agree the effort for double crossing the road is paid back in spades.  #15 is the final par 5 and it too is reachable.  The entire hole sits in a bit of a valley and will often be more lush than the remainder of the course.  Unlike the other blind tee shots, the landing zone isn't terribly generous. One must attack the right side fairway bunker to gain the fat side of the fairway and a better approach.  The easy option left has a drainage ditch lurking which is reachable.  Below is a look at the fairway from a well forward position.


The approach from the left must cope with the forward left bunkers. 


The last of the par 3s bring this remarkable stretch of holes in which there is only one two-shotter in seven holes to a close.  I believe this hole used to have one solid bunker cut into the hill and a virtually blind tee shot with perhaps only the flag visible.  Now there are sentinel bunkers left and right with a gap cut through the upslope.  No matter, even with a better view its difficult to tell oneself to hit enough club.  Any weak effort right will be grabbed by hidden bunker, or worse, gorse. 


The penultimate hole may be my favourite two-shotter on the course and it absolutely seals the deal of the back nine being among the very best in England.  The green is angled beautifully to shed approaches which are either too ambitious or coming from the wrong angle on the right side of the fairway. However, the sharpish angle of the dogleg suggests that right is the safer play off the tee.  If the hole was widened out just a bit down the left the trickery would be more effective.


Worplesdon is replete with clever driving holes and the home hole is one such example.  Playing fairly long at 430ish yards, the excellent 18th brings the golfer home with a tough ask. The drive is blind to a wide fairway, but keeping a bit left offers a shot up the gut of the green. Below is a look at the green from the right which illustrates how inaccurate driving is treated, death by a thousand paper cuts.

 




I find Worplesdon to be an absolute delight to play.  If the entire course were the quality and variety of the back nine all would sing its praises as loud as any course in England.  Even so, Worplesdon is of a very high standard and should be better known.  A few holes on the front nine may not be up to the task, but these are minor quibbles when there are so many very fine holes. Worplesdon is more than a casual trip filler or one of the "three Ws"; its many great 3s, 4s and 5s are proof positive of this. For visiting golfers to London hoping to land bigger fish...look no further...Worplesdon is big fish.  1*  2016

Ciao 
« Last Edit: August 05, 2022, 03:13:44 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

David_Tepper

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Winter Tour 2010/11: WORPLESDON GC (front 9)
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2011, 01:15:05 PM »
Sean -

Thanks for the pics. The course looks to be in rather good shape for the middle of winter. Looking forward to seeing the back nine.

DT

JNC Lyon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Winter Tour 2010/11: WORPLESDON GC (1-13)
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2011, 02:29:19 PM »
Thanks for the photos Sean.  The course looks beautiful for late January, and it looks like you had some sun too!

While I think the first two holes are a little bit strange because of the bunker schemes, I think the 3rd and the 5th are absolutely phenomenal par fours.  In fact, the 5th might be favorite hole on the course.  The diagonal tee shot is very appealing, and the green complex is excellent.  The green is very unusual for Worplesdon, or any other heathland course for that matter.  Its fill pad construction reminds me a bit of some of the Ross greens I've played here in the States.

After the runaway green at the 6th, the quality of golf drops a bit, but it picks back up in force at the 10th.  Despite what Scott Warren might say, the 10th is an awesome short par three because of the multi-section green.  The player has to find the correct sixth of the green for a realistic birdie chance and sure par.  Otherwise, a four or worse is a very real possibility.

The road crossing is a pain, but the four holes on the other side are so good that it is worth it.  Everyone here seems to agree that these four holes are all excellent.

I can't wait to see the rest of the tour--two more strong par fours on the way in.
"That's why Oscar can't see that!" - Philip E. "Timmy" Thomas

Scott Warren

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Winter Tour 2010/11: WORPLESDON GC (1-13)
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2011, 03:21:52 PM »
There you go with your hyperbole again, Lyon ;D

The 10th is decent because of the green, but still out of character with the other 17. "Awesome"? It's still the weakest one-shotter on the course.

I'll also disagree that the golf drops off after the 6th. The 7th has that wonderful diagonal ridge to contend with if you wish to run the ball in and the downhill approach to a steep two-tiered green at #8 is one of the 10 best shots on the course. The good player has options galore.

And just as further proof that I am completely crazy, it's already 22C here at 7.30am and I'm about to head out for a surf, yet these wintry images of a freezing day at Worpy have me missing England massively and wishing I was there. Barmy, I tell you!
« Last Edit: January 29, 2011, 03:26:12 PM by Scott Warren »

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC New
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2011, 08:52:08 PM »
Don't let the sun fool ya Scott, it was bitterly cold to start with.  I don't think the temp reached above 1 or 2 and the it felt much colder with that north/east wind. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 08, 2020, 02:09:55 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Scott Warren

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2011, 09:21:12 PM »
Sean,

I know it was only just above freezing... that's what makes my jealousy so bloody ridiculous!

I agree a less than ideal flow holds Worpy back when compared to some of the other nearby gems.

JNC Lyon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2011, 09:43:05 PM »
Sean,

I agree that 9 is the weakest hole on the course.  However, I think you are selling the 6th short.  The second shot is very deceptive, and the runaway green is absolutely dynamite.  While it should be the easiest hole on the course, the green keeps golfers of all levels honest.  This is one quality I look for in a good short par four.  I think it fits in well with the other three reachable par fives.

You might be right to say the greens get a little overloaded on the use of tiers.  However, there is plenty of subtlety around the greens on a lot of the holes, so I don't find that to be a problem.

Ultimately, I really enjoy Worplesdon.  The front nine is a bit more of the parkland style, making it weaker than the heath-dominated back nine.  However, the course has great variety on the 3s, 4s, and 5s (although there are no short par fours), and the quality of the architecture is strong throughout.  I would place Worplesdon just behind the likes of Woking or Swinley Forest, but it is still worth seeing.  If Worplesdon were not in the midst of other great heath belt courses, I believe it would be more widely recognized among English layouts.
"That's why Oscar can't see that!" - Philip E. "Timmy" Thomas

John Shimp

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2011, 10:10:25 PM »
Sean
I love the look of the bunkers.  How are the greens?   Overall is the course/greens in the league of Woking?
Thanks

JNC Lyon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2011, 02:23:31 AM »
John,

While the greens at Worplesdon are good as a set, they are not in the same league as those at Woking.  The Woking greens are one-of-a-kind, with wild complexes like those at 12, 13, and 18 complemented by the subtler ones at 4 and 7.  While Worplesdon has some of this give and take, greens like those at Worplesdon can be found at many other places.  For me, Woking has more truly standout holes and is a notch above Worplesdon.
"That's why Oscar can't see that!" - Philip E. "Timmy" Thomas

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC New
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2011, 04:54:10 AM »
John S

Strictly from a personal PoV Woking is of a higher standard from Worplesdon mostly as John wrote because of the greens and a bit more of an intimate routing.  That said, I believe Worplesdon has a strong reputation for well conditioned greens and if yesterday is any indication this rep is well founded. 

JNC

The 6th is too easy just knock one down the hill without being too aggressive.  I think there should be a slightly off centre-right bunker big enough to cause concern about 30 or so yards short of the green.  This may also encourage the flat bellies to swing out of their boots with the hope of a possible view of the green/bunker.  Its not a bad hole at all, but not one to look forward to. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 08, 2020, 02:11:46 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Philip Gawith

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2011, 06:55:51 AM »
It was a very chilly return to Worplesdon for me, but what a delight, especially when the sun thawed us out a bit! It has an appealing small, traditional club character to it  - quite similar, dear I say, to Huntercombe.

I think I agree with most of what has been said before - perhaps a little below Woking, but still a fine and interesting course by any standards. If the worst one can say is that the flow is not right or the 10th is out of character or the 6th needs another bunker then not  much is wrong!

I liked both the 6th and the 9th - the 6th because i am sure it plays harder than it looks, especially when the ball is running in summer and control is difficult; and the 9th because it shapes left to right after the right to left 8th, and the glade on the right is attractive. As for the 10th - it is a striking hole, partly because of the pond, partly because it looks so short, partly because of the three tier green - and all of this makes it play tougher than it looks. I think it is a good hole.

The course has quite a bit of elevation change - maybe a feature of most of the heathland courses that it not always commented on that much?

Stewart Abramson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2011, 08:54:17 AM »
Sean - Thanks for posting your pix and commentary. I didn't take many pix of Worplesdon when I visited.  Yours helped refresh my recollection of the layout and all the bad shots I hit that day. Without photos and my declining memory, my sharpest memories were of crossing the road and of taking a wrong turn and almost ending up in someone's home. Also, the wall in the clubhouse with the mixed team winners list was pretty cool... Joyce Wethered winning for many years and names like Darwin, Tolley, Bonnaleck etc


Mark Chaplin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2011, 10:35:13 AM »
Probably the course i play most after Deal, Worplesdon as Sean alludes to tends to be very quiet and peaceful. The course has benefitted massively from a large tree clearance and a new reservoir between 6 and 17 will secure the clubs water supply. One of my mates won his second straight mixed in 2010 so Joyce's record may have a challenger!!

Sunday lunch is not to be missed.
Cave Nil Vino

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2011, 05:43:44 PM »
Probably the course i play most after Deal, Worplesdon as Sean alludes to tends to be very quiet and peaceful. The course has benefitted massively from a large tree clearance and a new reservoir between 6 and 17 will secure the clubs water supply. One of my mates won his second straight mixed in 2010 so Joyce's record may have a challenger!!

Sunday lunch is not to be missed.

Chappers

Do you ever have Sunday lunch at home? 

Can you point out where trees have come down?  Also, is there any plan for trees to come down right and to the rear of the 12th green? 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022:

Mark Chaplin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2011, 06:00:45 PM »
Sean - the main areas are between 5 and 18, 6 and 17/8, 11 and 12 and finally between 15 and 16/17. Prior to the removals you couldn't see the other fairways through the trees. Not sure about the back of the 12th, but there are houses behind the 11th tee and 12th green so it might affect them.

Sunday lunch at home, there's a thought. This Sunday it's the turn of Hankley Common to feed me!
Cave Nil Vino

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2011, 06:09:27 PM »
Mark have you ever joined the Sunday group at Worplesdon who  meet for refreshments at 12.  Golf is to walk off lunch and starts no earlier than two hours fourty before the official sundown time.  Thats about 1.20 in late December and sometime after 7 in  June!

I need to get abck there.
Let's make GCA grate again!

Mark Chaplin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2011, 07:45:26 PM »
Tony - the famous Hat no I've yet to take part. Having to drive or at least having to drive legally takes way the enjoyment!
Cave Nil Vino

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2010/11 Winter Tour of England: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2011, 03:44:25 PM »
Sean - the main areas are between 5 and 18, 6 and 17/8, 11 and 12 and finally between 15 and 16/17. Prior to the removals you couldn't see the other fairways through the trees. Not sure about the back of the 12th, but there are houses behind the 11th tee and 12th green so it might affect them.

Sunday lunch at home, there's a thought. This Sunday it's the turn of Hankley Common to feed me!

Cheers Chappers.  It is difficult to know exact changes except for in obvious spots, but the undergrowth clearing is incredible.  That is as important as anything for opening up a course to make it playable from everywhere.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022:

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2014, 05:34:00 AM »
It is wonderful to slowly get to know a course without pondering much on the subject.  On this last visit the importance of driving at Worpy really hit home...its quite a clever chap in this way.  Worpy has definitely gone up in my estimation.  See the updated tour. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022:

Ed Tilley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2014, 06:13:10 AM »
When you drive as badly as I did yesterday Sean you do get to know a lot about the course - glad I could help further your understanding! The thing I liked about it from that perspective is that I frequently drove it into the heather or trees but I only lost one ball (and in fact found 2 so was up for the round). I got a penalty, as I should have, being only able to advance the ball a shortish distance but without too much monotonous looking for the ball.

Thinking about it on the drive home, I have to say the back 9 is really terrific at Worplesdon. The 12th is a particular highlight. As I said to Robin at the time I could happily stand for ages at the top of the dip about 140 yards out on the 12th hitting balls into that green. Absolutely lovely.

Pictures do tend to flatten courses out and the thing that stands out looking at these pictures the day after actually playing it is that there is a lot more elevation change at Worplesdon than appears from photos. All in all an excellent experience - thanks for arranging. Cheers.

Mark Chaplin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2014, 12:37:03 PM »
Sorry I couldn't make it, is the road you cross yet a "four lane highway"?  ;)
Cave Nil Vino

Michael Latham

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2014, 02:30:05 PM »
I have been playing Worplesdon on and off for over forty years and the improvement in the condition and presentation of the course is very marked. The tree clearing has dramatically improved both.
My reason for posting is that I cannot understand why so little mention is made of the second shot into hole 8. If the conditions are firm and with the pin on the upper tier either at the front or the back I don't think there are many harder second shots of say 90-120 yards in Surrey. Certainly very few offer such a contrast in the way to execute the shot. In competition I would guess I have seen more 3 putt 5's than one putt 3's.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2014, 09:59:35 PM »
Ed

Yes, the back 9 is outstanding.  I still can't get my head around #11 being so famous though...its one of the holes I like the least.

Michael

The 8th must be very challenging in summer.  Mind you, a lot of people must be able to drive very close to the green so the surface should be tricky.  Maybe I will find out one day once Chappers gets round to picking up the phone  :)

The hole which opened my eyes a bit more is 15.  Its one of several good driving holes, but the bunkering as a sort of add on to the ditch down the left is very good as well.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022:

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2014, 10:02:28 PM »
Sean,
Do you ever sleep? ;D ;D
It's 7 pm here on the west coast.
3 am there?

Happy New Year
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

James Boon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: WORPLESDON GC
« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2015, 05:16:41 AM »
Sean,

Thanks for the updated tour and sorry I had to pull out last minute for this one.

From your pictures the front 9 reminds me a little of Woking (not too surprising perhaps as its just down the road) being one of those heathland courses that has taken on a more parkland aesthetic / feel. While the back 9 looks more typical of a heathland course, being a little more rough around the edges???

I do though like the look of the place and must try to get there for a game.

Cheers,

James
2022 Highlights: Hollinwell (Notts), Brora, Reay, Ganton, Burnham & Berrow, Royal Dornoch, Woodhall Spa

"It celebrates the unadulterated pleasure of being in a dialogue with nature while knocking a ball round on foot." Richard Pennell

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