In the whispering willows of England’s countryside lies a time capsule far from the sirens and echos of a sprawling metropolis. Though not a time capsule from science fiction or a feature film, Sunningdale Golf Club offers golfers and visitors an experience of England’s past. Perfectly preserved and manicured (as it should) this splendid course is among the U.K.’s finest. For those looking play on a course that reminds them Sherwood Forest (of Robin Hood lore) then look no further than Sunningdale Golf Club.
What’s the big deal with the golf courses at Sunningdale, why are they in the top list(s) of the best courses to play? The answer is simple and it starts with the course(s) history.
Breaking ground in the late 1800s and founded at the turn of the century (1900), Sunningdale is the epitome of traditional British Golf. Willie Pary Jr’s design vision gives the course the allure of being secluded from the rest of civilization. This golf club offers perhaps the perfect combination of 36 holes of golf with the Old and New course. It certainly provides golfers the sense that Robin Hood and his merry-men may appear at a moment’s notice.
The Golfer’s Journey:
It’s no secret that Sunningdale Golf Club is one of the world’s most renowned golf courses. It’s received many accolades from golf magazines and professionals players for over a century. How does that translate to the average golfer? Is it really worth the hype or a trip across the pond? That’s where Jimmie James comes in. He’s a passionate golfer that is in select company, as one of the few golfer’s that have played the top 100 on Golf Digest’s best courses. So who better to ask then from the perspective of a golfer who seen the cream of the crop. Here’s what our featured guest had to say.
Score: 89 (New Course) – 84 (Old Course)
Weather: Clear Skies with cumulous clouds.
Fairway Conditions: New Course plays firm and fast. Old Course plays a lot softer.
The Rough: The heather grass is beautiful and seductive, but a bear to hit out of.
Favorite Hole: 12th hole on the New with honorable mention to the 5th hole.
You’ve played a lot of great courses, what made you want to play this one?
I heard through the grapevine it’s the best 36 hole combination in England. Besides it being in the top 100 world’s best courses, it has a rich history. The fact that they are both inland courses that cut through the forest made it feel like Robin Hood might come riding out the trees.
So we hear the signature holes offer spectacular views, what did you think?
In my opinion, the par 3 on the 5th hole (New course) had incredible views from one of the highest elevations on the course. The par 4 on the 5th hole (Old course) was framed wonderfully with the heather grass fields on both sides.
What’s your favorite shot or memory of your time there?
My drive on the first hole in Sunningdale New was a great start. I hit the ball 250 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. It’s always a great feeling to start the day hitting the middle of the fairway.
Another memorable shot was my approach to the par-five 13th hole on the New Course. I was 100 yards out and My caddie Ollie said I needed to hit a 100-yard shot to about 5 yards left of the flag. I hit a high sand wedge and stuck it to 12 feet left of the flag. I then made the putt for a birdie.
Driving down the middle of the fairway on the first hole of the Old Course was another memorable moment. We had met a couple of guys from my home state of Texas just as we finished lunch. We were a twosome and they were a twosome. We decided to just play together as a foursome. Hitting your first drive down the middle with a new group relieves a lot of stress and anxiety. I then went on to par the hole.
Alright, we can tell you love this course, what’s the #1 thing that stood out?
The one thing goes unsaid about this course is the friendliness of the members. The course is supposed to be beautiful, but I found myself talking for hours with some of the members of the club. One of the members was Michael King who played two Walker Cup Teams as an amateur.
You have a lot to say about this course, was there anything we missed?
The clubhouse was another gem of the golf club. It was filled with Historic photos and relics including a flag from the Atlanta Athletic Club. My caddie mentioned that the sausage was considered the second-best in all of England. However, no one could tell me where the first best was.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Golfer’s Journey with Ship Sticks.