Being founded in 1904, Hindhead was very much part of the heady days of the heathland design movement. Although, it would seem the club flew under the radar possibly because JH Taylor is the man given credit for the design; not that Taylor was a nobody! Of course, he was famed as a member of the Great Triumvirate (along with Vardon and Braid), this trio dominated golf during the turn of the century. Besides his golfing prowess (five Open victories), Taylor was a founding member of the British Professional Golfers’ Association, a staunch supporter of public courses and had the honour of captaining the 1933 GB&I Ryder Cup side (all English players) to victory.
If Hindhead is known for anything it is the dramatic site. The two nines are wildly contrasting with the front nine playing through deep glacial valleys draped in heather and pine. The holes coming home play over a large plateau. It is certainly the land which dictates the design for the man-made architectural elements, with some excellent exceptions, are rather subdued. The greens have some tilt, but are generally flat. For many, Hindhead will likely be more famous because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a founding member of the club. A keen golfer, Sir Doyle seems to have retained membership at more than a few clubs!
Sir AC Doyle in 1905.
The opener, while of good quality, is much in keeping with the back nine. With the home hole to the left, this is a large flat area defined by heather. A drive to the left leaves a safe approach inside a large bunker short and right of the green.
The real fun begins on the 2nd, the first of the valley holes. Tee shot in 1918.
This photo is taken from just in front of the tee, proving there is a fairway down there! Its a shame the shaping to the left is buried in trees.
The approach is excellent. I suspect the earthworks running to the bottom-right of the green is fill from the left.
We now climb up the ridge to the right of the green for a superb short hole.
The 4th plunges to a fairway well below the tee. The hazards aren't attractive, but they are well placed. A good, straight drive can bound miles past the sand leaving an opportunity to reach this three-shotter in two.
As seen from the 5th tee, the green is very long.
As there is a long climb out of the valley after playing #5, it strikes me this may have been a compromise in the design. The hole runs through a valley and isn't poor by any means, but I don't believe it adds anything to the course. The practice ground is above the tee and leads to the 6th tee. I can't help but wonder if this wasn't a good opportunity to break up the valley holes with a hole on the high ground. On to the 6th, given the terrain, a drop shot hole was bound to appear at some point.
The side runs out through a long valley, the highlight of which is the long one-shot eighth. That isn't to say #s 7 & 9 aren't good, its just that one may have had his fill of valley holes. The compelling 8th.
#9...check out the squared off green.
While having a reviving cup of tea in the handsome halfway house, the view of the attractive 10th wills players to carry on. This is also the spot at which one can head back to the house via #s 17 & 18, thus creating a good loop of eleven holes. Though I suspect some would play the 10th then doubleback to the 17th!
The eleventh is a straight-away par 4 while the 12th turns right rather abruptly and ends even more abruptly. I think the drive is good except that one can ignore the leg and hit into the 13th fairway! There is a rebuilt bunker blocking this line, but I suspect a few more bunkers are needed in this area. I thought the fairway was going to flow neatly into the green and played my shot accordingly....but some serious and hidden hair foiled me.
Behind the green shows off the ha-ha effect.
The following two are are short 4s; the 13th being a blind hole. It would seem the green has recently been reduced to make driving the green more difficult. I wonder if a nasty bunker beyond the green wouldn't have been more effective.
#14 plays between or over sentinel bunkers. It looks intimidating, but on most days many should comfortably carry the sand.
The final short hole - #15.
The par 5 sixteenth is a very curious hole. From the tee the drive looks wide open with the only miss being to the right on the OOB line. This is not at all the case. Heather pinches the left side and further up is a large tree blocking out the left side. In fact, the drive is one of Hindhead's most demanding. Below is a look at the driving zone.
Going for the green in two is possible, but fraught with danger.
#17 requires a heroic drive which can seem impossible into a cold winter's breeze. Unfortunately, the green doesn't do the tee shot justice.
Similar to the 16th, the final hole features a hedge down the right which in a way creates a feeling of playing down a valley. Below is the uninviting approach after either a short or long drive.
As this photo demonstrates, approaching from the left of the fairway requires an absolutely spot on shot.
The house in 1907 & 1923.
Hindhead being in the same neighbourhood as Liphook, Hankley Common and Blackmoor make it an attractive and obvious stop when on tour. Even though I am not all that enthusiastic about the course, Hindhead is unquestionably good. For me, the flattish greens and number of valley holes are difficult to overlook, but I can readily see another person finding the front nine to be immensely attractive. The overall consistency of the design, the few stand-out holes (#s 2, 3, 8 & 18) and the other compelling shots such as the tee shots for 10 and 17, make for a very enjoyable day. 2013
Other stops on the Winter Tour:http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,37725.msg777627.html#msg777627
Stratford upon Avonhttp://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,49796.0.html
Broadway (front 9 only)http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,38973.0.html
Woodhall Spa (no photo tour)http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,55186.0.html