Golf Course Review of Woodbridge Golf Club
Woodbridge Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: An intimate heathland layout with some fabulous holes
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.2
The more I play in Suffolk the more impressed I become by the quality of courses available in this often underrated county.
Woodbridge is yet another nail in the coffin confirming just how good this area is when it comes to superb inland golf. Like many of its neighbours Woodbridge has firm and fast ground conditions that promote the running game and where a wealth of gorse and heather thrive.
But here there is a more intimate feel to the venue as it wends its way over moderately undulating terrain through tree and whin-lined fairways. It’s more than possible to entirely lose your sense of direction on this secluded and tranquil parcel of land; prime real estate for good golf.
The Club was founded in 1893 when the main Heath course was originally laid out by the famous North Berwick professional Davie Grant. The course was modified in the late 1920's by James Braid and has remained true to its layout ever since. Bernard Darwin wrote favourably of the course and whilst measuring less than 6,300-yards the par 70 course has certainly stood the test of time.
There is a fantastic variety of holes at Woodbridge where accuracy and strategy will prevail over length. The springy yet firm turf is also a delight to hit from.
The opening two holes – both sub-350 yard par fours – may suggest you will be eased into your round and this could be the case but only if you successfully negotiate the fall-away green at the opener and the pond at the second.
Bigger hitting is required at the third but you have three shots to reach this sweeping uphill par five before tackling an exceptionally well bunkered short par four at the next; possibly driveable under the right conditions for longer hitters.
I can imagine there's the potential to get off to a fast start at Woodbridge and I suspect you may need to because there are some tricky holes to follow. One of the best on the course quickly arrives at the left-to-right fifth where the camber of the fairway falls away from the drive and the temptation to hug the right could result in a prickly search for your ball in a mass of gorse. The next turns the other way with fairway bunkers to contend with at the longest two-shotter on the outward half. The 514-yard eighth is a chance to improve your scorecard but the long par-three ninth is a hole where you’ll be happy to take your par and run.
The diversity continues on the back nine. The 10th and 16th are brutes topping out just under the 450-yard mark but it is the cruel, yet excellent, central bunkers at these par fours that add to the challenge and at the same time help make them standout holes on the estate.
The best hole of the 18, however, can be found at the 14th; St. Andrews Hill. This majestic two-shotter oozes quality from the tee, as it descends left-to-right downhill, before the fairway begins to rise just before the perfectly located two-tiered green which is an absolute joy to play towards. It is followed immediately by the excellent “Punch Bowl” par-three which is well defended by sand and gorse.
Before that you play down and up through a large dip at the 11th before returning across it at the 13th with a fine par-three sandwiched in-between.
The 17th is an interesting hole too with a huge hollow to play across for your approach to the green and there is one final sting in the tail which comes at the fabulous 18th. The bunkering at this hole on the drive is quite exceptional and not like anything I have seen before. There is a huge sand trap on the inner elbow of this doglegging 357 yarder, which seems quite carryable at 200-yards, but it is the series of angled bunkers, that almost run in the same direction as the tee shot, that make it so very good. It’s a risky drive to take them on to the left because the landing zone is quite narrow and just a slight tug to the left will find gorse or heather but the reward is a much shorter, more visible and easier shot to the green than if you play safely to the right.
I didn’t get chance to play the nine-hole Forest course, that accompanies the main Heath layout, on my first visit to this charming golf club but I am informed it is very good also and Woodbridge would therefore make an excellent venue to enjoy a full days golf.
Club Website: www.woodbridgegolfclub.co.uk
Tournaments: Open golf competitions at Woodbridge Golf Club.
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