Located to the northeast of the city of London, about one and a half hours drive from the city, and the Woburn Golf Club was founded in 1974 when the Marquess of Tavistock announced his intention to build a golf course. The first of what was to become three courses at Woburn, the Duke’s commenced construction in 1975 and was officially opened for play in July of ’75. Almost from the beginning, Woburn hosted professional tournaments, a testament to the strength of the layout. It’s first, of now almost 60 professional events, the ATS Pro-Am was held in 1978 and was swiftly followed by the Dunlop British Masters which was hosted at Woburn in 1979, 1985 won by Lee Trevino, 1986 won by Seve Ballesteros, 1989 won by Nick Faldo and 1994 won by Ian Woosnam. The British Masters returned in 2002 when Justin Rose held off Ian Poulter for victory. Additional Woburn has hosted The Brabazon Trophy and in 2014 was selected as a Final Qualifying venue for the Open. In 2016, the club’s 40th anniversary it hosted The Ricoh Women’s British Open on the Marquess Course.
Woburn comprises three, 18-hole courses, the Duke’s, Duchess and Marquess Courses and it was the first 54-hole venue to have all three featured in the Top 100 in the UK and Ireland rankings.
Its first Captain was His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, appointed in 1935. The clubs first Professional was none other than James Braid who took up the post in 1904 and Walton Heath could count amongst its membership several Prime Ministers of Great Britain including Sir Winston Churchill, Lloyd George, and A. J Balfour. Walton Heath was a past host of the Ryder Cup in 1981, the British Seniors Open in 2011, British Masters in 2018 and countless European Opens in the 1970s and ’80s. It has also notably been the home of Sectional Qualifying for the U.S Open since 2005. That year, the qualifier was New Zealand’s Michael Campbell who went on to win at Pinehurst. Since the inception of the World Top 100 Courses in 1938, Walton Heath has never left the list.
There are fifty-four magnificent golf holes at Woburn Golf Club. The Duke’s course is played through and around some of the most beautiful pine, chestnut and silver birch forest you will find anywhere and like Sunningdale and Walton Heath, you will find a fair degree of heather, gorse, and bracken to compliment it and add challenge to the courses. With that amount of woodland, it is crucial to keep the ball as straight as possible and nowhere is that typified more than the 6th and 7th holes. The 207yard par three 6th is surrounded from tee to green by imposing trees. Played across a ravine to a slightly elevated tee box, the correct club is vital. The 7th is one of the prettiest holes on the golf course with the church spire peeking through the branches at the back of the green. One of the toughest holes on the course where par is always gratefully received.
The Duchess Course was opened in 1978 a couple of years after the Duke’s. It is a challenging driving course where again the thick expanse of trees determines your club selection on every hole. Its opening and closing holes are a prime example of this. While only 435yards, the slope of the fairway on the first dictates that you must try to take your drive as close to the tree line as possible to maximize the possibility of finding the middle of the fairway. The 18th is very Augusta-esque. A tight line of trees run from the tee box down this hole, and it even has a lone tall pine just off its center line like its famed Georgia peer. A fabulous finishing hole.
The Marquess course which opened in 2000 has over time usurped the other two in terms of popularity, particularly in hosting professional events, despite its relatively young age. The Augusta theme continues on the Marquess. The par 4, fourth hole is almost a carbon copy, with a large tree on the left of the fairway resembling the Eisenhower Tree on Augusta’s 14th.
There is a lot to love about Woburn; it has an air of tranquillity and peace about it while at the same time challenging your golfing abilities to the extreme. Woburn has produced a swathe of excellent golfers, amongst them Ian Poulter and Charley Hull who represented Europe in the Solheim Cup as a 17-year-old. A very welcoming club with excellent facilities, a round at Woburn is not to be missed when visiting this part of Greater London as it is one of the classic English golf experiences. Why not contact The Consummate Pro to see how you can include Woburn on your next golf trip to England.