Sunningdale Golf Club
The Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course was the first golf course to be sown with seed only.
The Old Course was the first golf course in the UK to sport a man-made water hazard on the 5th!
It was here that Bobby Jones qualified for the Open at Royal Lytham. He purchased a driver from Jack White named Jeannie Deans. Thereafter, the went onto win 10 majors with the club.
Bobby Jones 'perfect round' of 66 consisted of 33 shots and 33 putts with no more than a 4 taken on any hole!
The routing was established by Willie Park Jr and Harry Colt was responsible for the finishing work according to Tom Simpson in the book The Game of Golf.
Debate rages as to which is the better course... the only way to settle the score is to try both and decide for yourself!
Golf Course Review
Sunningdale Golf Club is arguably the greatest 36-hole inland golf club in the world. It is rivaled only by Royal Melbourne in Australia.
The Sunningdale Golf Club story begins in 1899 when two brothers, TA and GA Roberts built a house known as Ridgemount. They then approach the college again with the proposal to build a golf course and create leasehold lots for quality houses in 1899. The land itself was and still is leased from St John’s College, Cambridge.
One of the main issues in 1901 was transport. The unspoiled nature of the area meant getting to and from the course posed a challenge. The London and South Western Railway ran nearby but didn’t stop until it reached Ascot. The General Manager of the Railway, Mr. Owens, was offered the first honorary membership at the club and soon thereafter golfers were alighting at Sunningdale.
When first developed was a pristine tract of land unencumbered by development – residential, commercial, or otherwise. The character of the courses has remained very much the same, with vast expanses of heather, gorse, and pines. Another plus is it is a walking-only course… you won’t see any buggies or cart paths!
Sunningdale Golf Club Old
The Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course only became known as such in 1923 when Harry Colt laid out the New Course. The Old was established in 1901 and is accredited to Willie Park Jr. Tom Simpson wrote that Willie Park Jr was responsible for the routing but Harry Colt did the finishing work. In a recently found reference, Harry Colt is credited with the 4th, 8th, 12th, and 17th holes on the Old as of 1911.
Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course History
Willie Park Jr signed the contract to build the golf course on December 4, 1899, for the grand sum of £3000. Hugh MacLean was appointed as foreman to oversee construction and remained with the club until 1940. At the same time, Park Jr was designing his own golf course at Huntercombe.
When Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course opened for play on September 23, 1901, Willie Park Jr was on record as golf course architect, Jack White was employed as Professional and Harry Colt as Secretary! The caddie master was James Sheridan, who ended up spending nearly 60 years in his role.
Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course Synopsis
The routing of the Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course is more expansive and meandering than the New. An out and back loop with just two Par 5’s and four Par 3’s, the course is hailed as a triumph of inland golf course architecture, the course was considered to be one of the finest ever built – an accolade which stands to this day.
Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course Reviews
Read Golf Club Atlas’ review of Sunningdale Old.
Take Sean Arble’s tour of Sunningdale GC Old Course.
Sunningdale Golf Club New
Sunningdale Golf Club New was established after the committee of received a letter from the owner of their leasehold, St John’s College Cambridge, with the request to build an independent 9 hole course.
In 1911, construction began in earnest on Titlarks Farm on what became known as Sunningdale Heath Golf Club, known colloquially as the ‘chauffeurs course’. Just a few years later during WW1, the club ran into financial difficulties and was taken over by the main club with plans to extend it to 18 holes as the New Course.
Sunningdale GC New Course History
In 1920, the Green Committee raised the proposal with members and James Braid was invited to advise! However, it was Harry Colt who would submit the plans which were eventually adopted. Construction was complete by the summer of 1922 and The Sunningdale Golf Club New Course opened for play on November 10, 1923. The total cost for Harry Colt was £8000 plus fees.
The Sunningdale Golf Club New Course was considered to be more rugged and tree-lined but less bunkered than Sunningdale Old. Fairways were more narrow and lined with heather with classic Harry Colt greens to be found on plateaux.
Tom Simpson & Sunningdale Golf Club New Course
However, not all were smitten by Harry Colt’s layout and in particular holes 6 through 10. By 1934, plans drawn up by Tom Simpson were adopted and approved to replace holes 6, 7, 8 and 10. The Tatler reported on June 27, 1934, that five new holes were to be made and only three were to be left untouched. With the changes complete, the New Course was renamed the Jubilee Course – in honour of King George V’s Silver Jubilee.
By 1939, Tom Simpson’s changes had fallen out of favour. Tom Simpson and former club captain, John Morrison, were again called in to reassess the situation. Changes were made to the same holes, which have now stood the test of time. After 5 years as the Jubilee Course, the course was renamed as the New Course.
Sunningdale GC New Course Reviews
See Golf Club Atlas’ review of Sunningdale New.
Take Sean Arble’s tour of Sunningdale New.
Read Jaeger Kovich’s analysis of the 6th hole on Sunningdale New.
Sunningdale GC New Course Photography
Sunningdale Golf Club - Videos
Golfing World - Sunningdale golf club foursomes
Featured Architect: Alister MacKenzie
As taken from his book, Golf Architecture, Alister MacKenzie felt the following were essential: The course, where possible, should be arranged in two loops of nine holes. There should be a large proportion of good two-shot holes and at least four one-shot holes. There should be little walking between...