Sunningdale Heath

Architect: Harry Colt

The term ‘Hidden Gem’ is overused. It is a bit cliché and I try not to adopt it. However, Harry Colt’s Sunningdale Heath exemplifies the term.

Wrongfully overlooked due to its previous life as Sunningdale Ladies, this testing 18 hole routing has had a new lease of life. The Club changed hands after a consortium led by PGA professionals Kristian Baker and Tom Reid (previously Stoke Park) put a takeover proposal to the members.

The new owners have a sensational site on their hands. It is unique in its length and aesthetics; not to mention, quality. Kristian and Tom immediately set about implementing an international-class outdoor golf academy with a special focus on junior golf. This complements the club’s luxurious Ultimate Golf Studio indoor golf academy. 

Having listened to the Cookie Jar Golf Podcast on Sunningdale Heath, it is clear that the new owners are investing and aiming to maximise any and all potential. The emphasis on nurturing junior golf is obvious, the length of the course, quality of the green sites and the turf itself is more than ideal for learning the art of the up-and-down. The notion of learning the game from the green back to the tee is so simple but will instill oodles of skill and understanding that will surely create a hotbed of junior talent. It is fantastic to hear that the club closes the last 4 holes on some days for purely junior play. 4 holes matches, chipping competitions … you name it – a proper playground, not like those metal ones where tetanus is a genuine risk.

A par 58, of 3,705 yards, with 14 par 3s, it may be assumed to be a simple test where your first round in the 60s may occur. Yes it is short, but it is testing. There is elevation, green sites are quietly complex and whilst accuracy is a premium, the whole vibe is forgiveness and fun. It is the perfect mirror to reflect your game, whether you like it or not. Do not get lulled into a false sense of security or ability, with two back to back par 3s at 241 and 236 yards, Colt is still examining and entertaining players in 2021.

It is not just the course that has garnered interest. The food that comes out of that kitchen is sublime. The gastronomy gossip is stirring. The catalyst for this was a legendary steak sandwich back in April 2021, consumed by The Flock. Since then, the 1902 Restaurant has been producing a consortium of culinary delights, including the sausage bap we consumed that Tuesday morning. But this was no sausage bap – soft brioche bun, grilled Cumberland sausage and balsamic caramelised onions. Best pre-golf scran I have ever had. The club’s new Head Chef, Greg Lewis – who has worked at multiple 3 Michelin Star restaurants – has helped turn the club into a popular destination for fine dining as well as for golf.

I mentioned the turf. The course sits on incredibly valuable land, land that hosts Sunningdale Old and Sunningdale New – the two best inland courses in the country (not Woodhall). I am very familiar with both of these wonderous layouts but it still brings so much joy to steal views, of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th holes on the Old Course. Thanks to a generous and hospitable invite (thanks Martyn), I was joined on 7th December by Oscar and Craig, two names readers will be familiar with. You normally associate December with imbedded balls, preferred lies and muddied spikes. December at Sunningdale Heath meant slick greens and clean lies. How lucky we were.

There are rumours of a few more rounds next Summer. Shorts, Polo and a Sunday Bag. Bliss.  


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