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The prospect of return to The Hindhead is always enjoyable, for once played this course will be etched into the memory and impossible to forget. It is located in the famed sandbelt, which stretches across the north of the county of Hampshire and neighbouring Surrey. It hosts some of the finest courses in the land, and the sandy subsoil nurtures silver birch, fir and pine as well as native deciduous trees, and the heather which is progressively being regenerated, forms a purple carpet later in the season. The excellent turf is a delight to play from, and coupled with fast true greens make it a venue to savour. It is a popular view of those who have played at Hindhead that the front nine holes are some of the most spectacular in the country, but make no mistake, this is a wonderful eighteen hole course that is simply blessed with several holes on the front nine that are unforgettable. Set out in the traditional manner with two loops of nine, the log cabin style half way house is as renowned as the course, and is a feature oft mentioned by visitors to the club. Without doubt if you do not stop there, you have missed a treat, the bacon, sausage and egg sandwich warrants gourmet status. The origins of the club date back to the late Victorian era, when the wonderful views and scenery, typified by the awesome majesty of the Devils Punchbowl, attracted the wealthy entrepreneurs, writers and artists. Among those who relocated to the area was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, famed writer and doctor of medicine, who moved into Undershaw, hoping that the fresh air would prove beneficial to his wife who suffered with tuberculosis. He joined neighbouring Hankley Common Golf Club, but the uphill journey by horse and carriage was onerous, so along with several other members, who included the Squire of Grayshott, Alexander Ingham Whittaker, they began looking for a more convenient place to play. Whittaker was already an experienced organiser, responsible for the construction of the church, the Fox & Pelican pub and the village hall. However, his grandiose plans underestimated the cost and work of building a golf course on the deeply ravined land, covered in heather, gorse and stones. J H Taylor, who had been the professional at Royal Winchester Golf Club, laid out the course and marked the tees and the greens, and identified the size of the task. In June 2006 the match to commemorate the opening was played between J H Taylor and James Braid, two giants of the game, and multiple Open Champions. Braid won the match 2&1. In the early days both Conan Doyle and Whittaker made huge donations to keep the club afloat, but the crises caused tensions that were only resolved when Conan Doyle eventually moved to Crowborough Beacon with his new wife. During his reign as President of the club, Stories were told of Conan Doyle skiing down the slopes of the course in the winter, particularly the valleys of the current 4th and 5th holes, to the extreme annoyance of Whittaker who was the Club Captain. The club prospered and the repute of the many visitors added to the esteem, Champions were regularly seen on the links, George Duncan, Abe Mitchell, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, who had both been beaten by amateur Francis Ouimet in the 1913 US Open. Alex Herd was a frequent guest and one of the greatest ladies of the day Diane Fishwick came to play the course. The Rt Hon David Lloyd George was made an Honorary Member of 1922 when he moved into nearby Churt. Laddie Lucas won the Devils Punchbowl, the clubs scratch open competition, in 1933, years before he gained famed landing his damaged Spitfire on the links at Princes in Kent. Dai Rees who was later to lead Great Britain to a famous victory over the USA in the Ryder Cup at Lindrick, was appointed club professional in 1938, and often claimed the accuracy of his long game was due too playing the narrow fairways at Hindhead. The list of club Presidents is most impressive, commencing with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and including many famous Knights, Admirals, Brigadiers and dignitaries of the nation. Peter Allis who lives near to the 15th green is an Honorary Member of the club, and still plays a regular game when home. After a gentle opening hole, with a single deep bunker guarding the left side of the green, the scenery changes dramatically. The early section of the course then winds through deep valleys gorged out by glacial activity in the ice age, forming a landscape that is both beautiful and challenging. In the autumn the colours defy description, from gold to brown and rich dark reds, all glistening with the reflection of the sunlight on the morning dew, giving rise to the apt name Little Switzerland of Surrey.


Though the history of the club is fascinating, the course today is the reason for our visit to play and enjoy some of the best golf in the region. It is a permanent surprise to anyone who has had the pleasure of a visit to play Hindhead, that it never receives the recognition it warrants. For this course is a test for the best, and enjoyable for the many. The second hole is the commencement of eight successive holes that will stand comparison with any in the land. The drive is from an elevated tee down into an angled valley and starts the run, then the third, a par three which gives little room for error, before running down the deep valley, and then climbing up to the 6th tee, which a par three to savour. Time to enjoy the panoramic view whilst recovering from the walk, and to relish the tee shot ahead, on the signature hole of the course. This is the extremity of the course, and the return is a progressive climb up the valley to the 9th green and the opportunity for refreshment. It has been estimated that when a round of golf is played at Hindhead, the player has climbed the equivalent of two ascents if Nelsons Column. The pit stop at the halfway house has been described earlier, and it is fortunately followed by a short hole, to ease back into action. However none of the par threes here can be taken for granted, each distinct, but all demanding a well struck shot to have any chance of a par. The back nine is on higher ground, with views far across the rolling countryside, the effects of the tornado in 1987, which uprooted many trees had a positive result in this aspect. So to the finishing stretch, and the dogleg back to the clubhouse, and a stark reminder that it has to be played all the way home. The welcome is visible waiting for the sated golfer as a backdrop to the well bunkered heather lined eighteenth green.. The conclusion of a golfing experience on a course in absolutely tip top condition, truly magnificent, and a credit to long serving course manager Steve Holmes and his team. This is one course which rightly warrants the use of that over used term, A Hidden Gem. The clubhouse has recently undergone a major reconstruction and refurbishment, costing over 1.2 million pounds. This has provided first class locker rooms and radically improved dining facilities, bringing the club right up to date in all respects. Our host for the day was club professional Ian Benson, who has been at the club for eight years. Ian is well settled following his return to the South after a period in North Staffordshire, quite a different scene from his pervious time in Hampshire, where he was a very successful competitor in Hampshire PGA events. Ian has brought his twenty years experience to bear with the creation of his Golf Academy. A programme aimed at long term improvement fro those wishing to advance their skills, and with thirty five Category One members in the club, that plan is achieving good results. The annual Devils Punch Bowl is an open scratch event which always attracts a high quality field, containing many of the low handicap members. Hindhead has enjoyed a long relationship with Gallaher JTI, stretching back over fifty years, the Company has provided assistance with the building of the half way house, and also provided the granite tomsbstone markers on each tee. Each year the club is host to the Company Championship weekend, attended by players from England and Ireland. The Competition proper is played on the Saturday, after a practice round on the previous day, and concluded with a match against the club on Sunday. The club like several others in the South Of England, has been active in seeking to have reciprocal arrangements with prominent clubs which are within reasonable travel distance. At the present time these clubs are, Ferndown, Broadstone, Hayling and Barton on Sea. There is a also an Exchange Day with Stoneham, a very popular event with both clubs. Societies are welcome at the club on Wednesday and Thursday, and the club is keen to attract Corporate Events now that the new dining facilities are completed. The new franchise arrangements which have coincided with the new facilities, are proving a great success, beneficial to both members and visitors alike. For those who have yet to experience the delights of H|indhead, this article should serve to whet the appetite, there is certainly no risk of disappointment, whenever you chose to make the visit, for while the seasons yield a different set of colours, the course is always in fine condition. With Winter Offers available for the winter season (see the advertisement right), this could be the perfect time for a booking in the diary. I for one will be returning soon. Michael Rees

Available from Nov to Mar 2010 with the Tee Times Voucher or Web Site Voucher to golfers with a current Handicap Bring a 4 ball from Nov to Mar mid week for 150.00 per 4 ball
(cannot be used with any other promotion)

Bring 8 players from Nov to Mar mid week and receive coffee on arrival, 18 holes and chefs Special or all day breakfast for 47.50 per player (min 8 players)
Both offers available to book 2 weeks in advance

The Hindhead Golf Club, Churt Road, Hindhead, Surrey, GU26 6HX
GRASSHOPPER Tel: 01623 404730

T:01428 604614



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