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Sean_A

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WEST HILL GC Revisited
« on: December 21, 2013, 07:17:57 PM »
Founded out of desperation for a place to play golf, West Hill Golf Club was born in 1910.  In the early days of the English golf explosion women were often given the cold shoulder in golf clubs so Mrs Marguerite Lubbock took it upon herself to hire Scottish professional Cuthbert Butchart to design West Hill.  Butchart was a well known club maker come professional from Carnoustie who had the misfortune of being in Berlin when WWI broke out.  The Germans interned him for the duration of the war after which Butchart took up his old position as the pro for Berlin GC.  Shortly thereafter he immigrated to the United States to continue working as a jack of all golf trades. 

Centred on the A322 (Bagshot Road) between the Brookwood to West Byfleet train stations are four courses of a very high standard. Famously, three of the courses are often referred to as the 3Ws; Woking, Worplesdon and West Hill.  The fourth course, New Zealand, is barely known in golf circles and I suspect the club prefers the relative anonymity.  Of the 3Ws, West Hill is to some degree overlooked.  Though in truth, the course is likely the most handsome, perhaps the most difficult and certainly the heathiest of the three.  It wouldn’t be surprising to discover West Hill has far more heather than Woking and Worplesdon combined! 

The total yardage of just under 6400 yards is relatively short, but par is a demanding 69 (five 3s and two 5s).  West Hill does suffer slightly due to the poor use of a brook.  Fully four holes play at right angles over the water; twice only a poor shot will find the hazard and on the 1st and 16th a good drive could easily find the blind hazard.  At no point is the hazard used diagonally except on the fine 3rd and the brook is well out of play off the tee.  Be that as it may, there are several very good and extremely attractive holes, none more so than West Hill’s well spaced set of long par 4s; #s 3, 6, 10, 14 and 18.  The par 3s aren’t without merit.  The 4th is a keeper, the 15th is much heralded, but the 7th is the hole which impresses me most.   

The first is a very fine how do you do which sets the golfer up for a pleasant day.  Approximately 215 yards from the tee the fairway dives sharply for 30 or so yards to eventually feed a brook.  The approach up the other side is just as sharply uphill.


The second curiously features bunkers divorced from the heathery surrounds.  The green, however, slides severely away from the fairway.  In the main, the interest of West Hill’s greens lies with varying degrees of pitch rather than offering a rollicking ride as at Woking.   




The third is the first among a generous handful of very good holes.  From the daily markers the tee shot is blind, but two sets of trees provide ample opportunity to choose a line.  The hole moves left to yet another front to back green.   


Some bunkers have been reshaped....before and after.




The 4th is very pretty, but a straight-forward par 3.


The three-shot 5th is wide open off the tee except if you drive too far.  There seems to be a proliferation of cutting off fairways at West Hill.  In addition to the 1st and 5th, 16 and 17 also throttle the long ball.  The approach cascades to a front to back green. 


Blind off the tee, the 6th is an excellent long par 4.   


The very good run of holes continues with the moderate length par 3 seventh.  I heard 3000 thousand trees were removed from the course in the past few years.  Judging by the many shadows cast across short grass, there is a long way to go with tree removal. 


One of my favourite holes at West Hill, the 8th features diagonal bunkering.  As one can readily see, the texture of West Hill is outstanding. 


More evidence of simplifying bunker shapes...before and after.




In addition to several tilted greens, West Hill also has many tiered greens, the 9th being one example.  The hole is located on the back tier which I suspect is very difficult to access in the summer months.  In this case, the green also slides left toward the OOB.


The traditional out and back routing starts the journey home with a very difficult par 4, one of five over 400 yards in length. 


More diagonal bunkers set well before the green with the added twist of a tree in the mix.


Being quite tight, the drive on 11 feels more constricted than most of the other tee shots.  Although, the real issue with this hole is the nature of the green.  I believe it is one of only two greens not protected by sand.  I have no qualms with sandless greens, but then something must be present to create interest.  In this case, the green seems a bit lifeless. 


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 06:13:37 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

BCowan

Re: West Hill GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2013, 07:24:21 PM »
The holes are very impressive.  Looks in pretty good condition with the limited amount of light the grass gets. 

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: West Hill GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2013, 04:36:03 AM »
Need to get back, my gut feeling was that I much preferred it's rough and ready natural charms to Worps. which felt more like an extension of the back gardens surrounding it. ;)  Another overlooked gem.


You mention the “typical diagonal bunkering”.

In the 1920's their part time Secretary was Captain WA Murray.  He had been at Romford when Colt redesigned part of the course and became  the firms man on the ground when important new courses were being constructed. So frequent were Colts visits to West Hill that the famous Babbington Obituary said he was known by a nickname by the staff. (“The Governor”? Can't find it this morning.)


Is their an official history?  I have always wondered if they didn't do some work there.
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Sean_A

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues New
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2013, 07:11:22 AM »
B

While the trees don't present any playing problems, it is clear that on a bright winter day many parts of the course do not get much light. I find this troubling, but in truth I didn't see much evidence of growth problems.  The fairways were in good nick.  The greens while very wet were well covered.

Spangles

To be fair, despite a few runs of diagonal bunkering, the course doesn't feel very Colt-like to me. 

WEST HILL CONT.

The course definitely seems to go into a bit of a lull around the halfway hut.  #12 is a short par 4 with a pronounced two-tier green. 


The next two holes run along two adjacent properties; one is a good hole and the other is one of the worst holes I have seen in some time.  First the good, a tough little short hole - #13. 


Now for the bad!  14 plays hard along OOB (and around trees) on the right to a fairway legging well right, yet leaning left.  The only realistic landing area in the fairway is the left side which is protected by a bunker.  My playing partner hit a wonderful fairway wood over the right trees just to get to the middle of the fairway.  Its a very dangerous play with a house and halfway hut in this direction.  It seems to me the tee should be moved well forward and bit left to offer a driving zone and reduce the danger aspect of the hole.

The 15th's green is one of the more interesting on the course.  At the rear are two bowls divided by a mound.     




We cross the brook once again on the 16th; very few will have the length to make the carry off the tee.  The fairway alignment is excellent.  There are no bunkers, but the right side runs behind trees near the brook and necessitates a carry over the forward bunkers. 




The shaping for the green surrounds is most unusual.  It could be that there was once a bunker to the left of the green.  Perhaps the green complexes could be more interesting if more shaping like this were present.  Whatever the case, missing left leaves an extremely difficult downhill chip.


The course just seems to tick over with a handful of holes and the 17th is one such example.  That, however, is certainly not the case for the home hole, a bruising par 4.  That said, the bunkering is rather odd as it seems out of play off the tee for the vast majority.   






I must admit to being pleasantly impressed by West Hill.  The course is undoubtably beautiful and while none of the holes are truly great, there are plenty of excellent holes to keep one engaged.  I also admire the low yardage and par of the course as it seems to make much more sense than adding more yards to a higher par. In any case, with seven holes over 400 yards most good players have plenty of challenge on the yardage front.  On the negative side are the five fairways which are interupted and the funky routing for 13 & 14.  Which is the best of the 3Ws?  Well, that is a matter of speculation.  For me the bunkering and greens win the day for Woking, but West Hill can hold its head high.  2018

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 30, 2021, 05:23:13 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Paul Gray

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2013, 07:31:57 AM »
Sean,

I have a very vague recollection of the course from my days playing minor junior events. My immediate impression from your pictures is that the course is perhaps in need od a haircut. Would you advocate a tree removal program, however limited that may be?
In the places where golf cuts through pretension and elitism, it thrives and will continue to thrive because the simple virtues of the game and its attendant culture are allowed to be most apparent. - Tim Gavrich

BCowan

Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2013, 07:45:47 AM »
Great photos, the course looks great.  I do prefer grass hollows/bunkers.  I don't know what hole it was around #16th, but i think it looks great the way it is.  Willie Park used many natural grass features/bunkers and I prefer them myself.  I wish there were more grass bunkers in golf arch, there isn't enough and there are many creative ways to make them interesting.  

Mark Pearce

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2013, 07:55:53 AM »
Sean,

Thanks for this tour.  Like Spangles I much prefer West Hill to Worpy.  Worpy may have a couple of holes better than any hole at WH but WH is much steadier and has none of the weak holes that Worpy suffers from.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Richard Hetzel

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2013, 08:19:54 AM »
This is a great looking course!
Last Ten Played: 
Donald Ross Course French Lick (IN), Covered Bridge (IN), The Trout Club (OH), Elkhorn Ridge (SD), Bully Pulpit (ND), Links of ND, Hawktree (ND), Dakota Winds (ND), Links Lawsonia (WI), Connemara (KY)
Top 5 this year:
Yale
Culver
Hawktree
Charleston Municipal
Streamsong Blue

Sean_A

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues New
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2013, 08:21:46 AM »
Paul

I don't know about the trees.  West Hill is quite unusual in that the trees definitely block light, but don't interfer with the golf.  I think I would need know what views/noise the trees block before I said anything about cutting trees down.  That said, with the new practice ground going in, the trees surrounding it are likely prime candidates for the Arble Axe  8)

Canary

I prefer Worpy.  As you say, Worpy hits higher notes, but unlike you, I don't see the lower notes.  What bugs me most about Worpy is the road.  #s 9 & 15 aren't up to much.  The big difference between the two is parkland/heathand debate.  Worpy falls definitely toward parkland and Westy toward heathland, but I don't think an advantage is gained either way in terms of drainage; its purely an aesthetic issue.  While I prefer the look of Westy, Worpy could never be accussed of being the ugly step child.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 02, 2021, 04:24:11 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Mark Chaplin

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2013, 12:09:33 PM »
Mark what are the weak Worpy holes? I've never been a fan of 2 and find the green on 8 a bit severe but other than that it's pretty steady.

West Hill does suffer in the winter and can get pretty boggy.

The 3Ws are interesting in the amount of play they get, all have similar sized memberships (small) but whereas Worpy and Woking are usually empty West Hill has an extremely active membership and just getting on the course at weekends (with a member) can be a struggle. All said south Woking is blessed with 3 very fine courses.
Cave Nil Vino

Mark Pearce

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2013, 12:35:20 PM »
Mark,

For me it starts very slowly.  1 is a decent if unspectacular opener but I don't like 2 and 3 at all.  4 really gets the course going and is the start of an excellent run; 5, 6 and 8 are among the best holes on the course.  I don't much like 9 or 10 either.  From there there are a variety of good and very good holes, so I guess it's just 2, 3, 9 and 10 I don't much like.  Perhaps the problem is really the way the course starts with a couple of weaker holes in the first three.  Interestingly I have always enjoyed playing it more when starting on the 5th, though that way you do get a slightly disappointing finish!
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Mark Chaplin

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2013, 12:49:40 PM »
Starting on 5 is an examination! I don't mind 10 as it's original, nice plans to clear out all the bushes to the right of the green. The road is one of those things that didn't register 100 years ago but now is a bit of a pain.

Brian it is very Deal like as a club, in fact there was a stripey Deal jacket at the Christmas lunch yesterday and it wasn't mine!!
Cave Nil Vino

Mark Pearce

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2013, 01:01:37 PM »
Getting rid of those bushes to the right of ten would certainly improve it.  For some reason (the proximity to water?) that green always seems a bit soft and parklandy to me.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

John Mayhugh

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2013, 11:12:34 PM »
Sean,
Enjoyed the tour as always.  All those Surrey W courses all look good to me. 

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2013, 01:56:20 PM »
Sean, Glad you liked West Hill. I've always been a fan, but there hasn't been much support on GCA - Woking usually wins all contests. I'm glad New Zealand has been mentioned. Keep up the se excellent reports! Happy Christmas, Mark.

Sean_A

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues New
« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2013, 06:17:05 PM »
Mark R & Tucky - cheers.  I was thinking that West Hill reminds me most of Sherwood Forest.  Loads of really good holes, exceptional setting and some good long 4s.   

I am not a big fan of Worpy's 2nd.  BUT - I like 3 a lot - one of my favourite Worpy holes.  Great front to back green using the 1st fairway as an eternal backdrop - very clever hole.  I also like the 8th a ton; superb green and in my experience unique.  Its great having the pronounced second tier that runs away from the player.  Its especially effective for a short 4.  Its 9 that doesn't do much for me.  I also think #11 is way over-rated. 

For me, Woking is the winner of the 4 because its greens are more varied and interesting than the other 3 combined.  Plus, the bunkering is very good even if not up to snuff with New Zealand (but Woking has more interesting terrain). I think highly enough of Woking to consider it a great course and one of the heathland must plays.  The other three are about equal and can easily understand liking one over another, but for me Worpy comes second.  I really like most of New Zealand's bunkering, but the course is VERY narrow with punishing heather combined with over-hanging trees.  West Hill (the house is fine and very comfortable - just not as nice as the other three - Sheehy - you snob :D ) just may pip the two due its heathy aesthetic. I would feel lucky to be a member any of the 4 and think all are worth playing. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 02, 2021, 04:28:43 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Mark Chaplin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #16 on: December 24, 2013, 06:45:57 PM »
Like the Canary says with starting on the 5th at Worplesdon, Woking is best finished when you return to the clubhouse the first time as it a pedestrian ending. Sadly they also have one of the heaths worst holes in 9, but the best greens.
Cave Nil Vino

Sean_A

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #17 on: December 24, 2013, 06:56:27 PM »
Chappers

I like Woking's 18th and 17th for that matter.  The 15th has a great green and I haven't seen the new 16th.  I remain perplexed by the 9th - just a wierd hole which I don't think works very well.  That said, the hole which aggrevates me is #6.  Why on earth isn't the water better used?  Its a huge missed opportunity and they just worked on the hole!

Thinking on it, I like all the finishers, but think New Zealand's is the weakest due to trees causing sight line issues.  West Hill's is probably the toughest, maybe Worpy's matches it, but I reckon OOB left and long takes the show. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Neil White

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #18 on: December 25, 2013, 12:13:05 PM »
Sean,

Myself and fellow students from the EIGCA were given a tour around Woking in October by the head greenkeeper to look at the course, we also met Tim Lobb to view his completed design for the new 16th.

Tim suggested that the green was his wildest to date despite only having ~60cm of variation in grade.  It had a lot of movement and it will be interesting to see how pinnable it will be next season.











Courses played 2020 - ................!

Sean_A

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2013, 06:54:57 PM »
Speedy Neil

Thanks for the pix.  I don't think I fully appreciated how left this hole now is.  I seem to recall a boggy area left of the pond - on the other side of the path - was it drained?  Did T Lobb give any explanation as to

1. Why the water isn't better used?

2. Why all the short grass between the bunkering and water?

Incidentally, I played Whittington Heath for the first time in a few years and something springs to mind. The London Heathlands need to radically rethink what they are doing agronomically. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: September 24, 2018, 09:47:49 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Adam Lawrence

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2014, 07:31:18 AM »
Tim Lobb, who as I think some on here know, is a good mate of mine, asked me to post the below message concerning the new sixteenth at Woking:

"While planning the work, we discussed the role of the pond at some length. There were suggestions that we should bring the water more into play, but I felt, and still feel, that water shouldn't be a principal hazard on heathland courses. We wanted to build something that fit with the old-school feel of Woking, not a modern looking hole.

The green itself came about after we studied the existing Woking greens in detail. We knew contour was important, but equally we didn't want to build something that would look out of place in such a flat environment - we wanted contoured but low profile, to fit in with the other green complexes found at the club."


I've spent a bit of time looking at the new green with Tim and greenkeeper Jon Day (I'm helping the club research the design evolution of the golf course as part of a policy document Tim is putting together for them). The sucker pin is back right, behind the bunker and to the right of the small mound in the green that I've christened 'Lobby's Lump'. You'll be able to fly straight at it if you want, but the fun way of accessing it will be a shot that runs up the green and banks right off the Lump.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2014, 07:43:18 AM »
Tim Lobb, who as I think some on here know, is a good mate of mine, asked me to post the below message concerning the new sixteenth at Woking:

"While planning the work, we discussed the role of the pond at some length. There were suggestions that we should bring the water more into play, but I felt, and still feel, that water shouldn't be a principal hazard on heathland courses. We wanted to build something that fit with the old-school feel of Woking, not a modern looking hole.

The green itself came about after we studied the existing Woking greens in detail. We knew contour was important, but equally we didn't want to build something that would look out of place in such a flat environment - we wanted contoured but low profile, to fit in with the other green complexes found at the club."


I've spent a bit of time looking at the new green with Tim and greenkeeper Jon Day (I'm helping the club research the design evolution of the golf course as part of a policy document Tim is putting together for them). The sucker pin is back right, behind the bunker and to the right of the small mound in the green that I've christened 'Lobby's Lump'. You'll be able to fly straight at it if you want, but the fun way of accessing it will be a shot that runs up the green and banks right off the Lump.

Very interesting I hope you'll share your results.  

My faulty memory has the land leased from The London Necropolis Company?
 They planned the whole area to be an overspill Cemetery for London, but found business slower than they'd anticipated?

Also wasn't the pond originally Square and intended to be used for Curling.  Possibly man made?
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

Adam Lawrence

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2014, 07:48:42 AM »
It was, but the club bought the freehold in 1972. I think you are right re curling. Shows winters were colder back in the day I guess!
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Neil White

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2014, 08:22:35 AM »
Adam,

'Lobby's Lump'  :)

Whilst we were surveying the green as part of our workshop we also putted various portions of the green.  

A putt from the front to a back right pin is tricky indeed and needs a deft touch to get the ball to the top of the 'lump' and have it die toward the cup.  We saw a number of putts both off the green and also come up short leaving an even trickier putt for par.

If I remember correctly anyone who finds themselves on the green pin-high left of the back right hole location faces an almost impossible putt?

It was an eye-opener though as to how much interest you could get into what felt was a fairly compact green.

I can't wait to get back there to savour the course once more and try out the new green.
Courses played 2020 - ................!

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: WEST HILL GC: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues
« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2014, 04:13:25 PM »
Tim Lobb, who as I think some on here know, is a good mate of mine, asked me to post the below message concerning the new sixteenth at Woking:

"While planning the work, we discussed the role of the pond at some length. There were suggestions that we should bring the water more into play, but I felt, and still feel, that water shouldn't be a principal hazard on heathland courses. We wanted to build something that fit with the old-school feel of Woking, not a modern looking hole.


I think Tim is dead on with this.

Hole looks really good to me.

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