Thanks again for another wonderful tour.
I've looked at every thread here on GCA on Royal W&NM, tried to find notable writings of the course (including Darwin, Finegan and Doak), looked at aerials, and compared it to some of your other course tours. I haven't played it, of course, so take the following with as many grains of salt as you please.
Overall, I have to crib from replies #7 and 8 from this thread: http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,48309.0.html
I just don't get it.
This is really the best nine-hole course in the world?
Worthy of a Doak 9
Some neat elements of quirk (teeing over greens, shared fairways, bunkers with multiple purposes). Interesting half-par holes, as Ran points out in his write-up: http://www.golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/england/rwn/
Some very interesting greens -- they appear to be the strength of the course.
Hole #1 isn't all that different, it appears, than #2 at Merion East -- a par 5 early in the round with a road lining the entire side. Interesting to me that the hole swings away from the road at the end, diminishing some of the terror (and interest) that a green hard by the road might hold. #2 looks like a long, stout par 3 with an inverted tea-cup green -- solid, yes, but I've seen and played what appear to be much better versions of a long par 3 that requires more than iron play off the tee. #3 -- OK, there's a less cluttered view the closer one is willing to play near the forest right, but it's a hole of 361 yards -- most folks are coming into that green with a short iron. The green looks fairly benign. #4 -- a solid half-par hole, but with some hard-to-understand OOB quite near the green for those wishing to have at it with their second shot in hopes of a birdie/eagle. I like the use of the terrain directly in front of the green to "hide" it and make approaches more difficult, but this is hardly unique or bold or inventive, particularly on 100+ year old courses.
What to make of #5? I have a high tolerance for quirk. The narrowness and smallness of the green at 5 seems appropriate for a par 3 of less than 160 yards. There's nothing wrong with a hole that requires an exacting shot onto a small surface surrounded by trouble (see hole #6 on this thread I did of a course not long ago: http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,49805.0.html
) But the contours of the 5th green at R W&NM suggests its comes close to being over the top. If, as Ran points out in his thread, an accomplished golfer can hit this green off the tee and walk off with an 8, is that a sign of greatness, or something else? James Finegan was too polite to call it goofy: "As to its basic fairness, that's not a question I would care to debate."
#6 is a stout par 4 -- another half-par hole -- but the Principal's Nose bunker complex that Ran praises looks out of reach for all but the most Tiger-ish of golfers. It looks like a solid hole, but again nothing remarkable or something I haven't seen before. #7 -- again, some nice use of land to deaden a short approach. But at 163 yards, does it come into play all that often? The green, by R W&NM standards, looks dull. #8 -- some very nice bunkering schemes, and a fall-away green. This looks like a fine, tough half-par hole.
The course concludes on what appears to me a fatally flawed hole. More oddly placed OOB, meddlesome trees that ruin the tempting view (which a hole of this length should encourage), and a horrifically placed road (I get that they can't move it, and roads are integral parts of many courses; this one appears to be right where you wouldn't want one).
Subject of three GCA threads by three estimable reviewers, and a full review by GCA's founder, and admired by golf writers for nearly a century, R W&NM is certainly deserving of such scrutiny. I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to play it.