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England - Surrey & Near London Pt Iv

Liphook is on the A3 south of Hankley Common if travelling towards Portsmouth. This is an interesting, slightly hilly heathland course with a few unusual quirky holes. The greens had some intriguing undulations and were generally pretty good. Whist the fairways were a little patchy, this will be overcome by the installation of a fairway reticulation system in 2012. The par 3, 3rd hole is only 139 yards but you had better be on the green. The par 5,13th  actually lies in two counties (hence its name) and has a ridge of heather and a drain that may force you to lay up with your second shot. The 14th is a very good dogleg par 4 with heather and conifers waiting if you cut the corner too tight. The 16th is a good quirky hole that is a little tricky playing first time as there is a big hollow with patches of heather and gorse if you are short with your second which may be a semi blind shortish approach.

The 18th is not a long par 5 but if the flag is at the front of the green then you are in big trouble if you are well past it and putting down the steep slope.

Liphook has a large membership of 800. The secretary, John Douglas, was very obliging in getting us a tee time on what was a busy mid week day. Liphook was fun and was a little different to the courses we had been playing.

          (photo Liphook- approach to the 16th 'The Quarry')

To the east, on the A29 near Pulborough on the way to Littlehampton, in the midst of farming land you will find West Sussex. What a great course -it is definitely in my top 5 heathland adventures. There is a lovely unpretentious atmosphere here. We played early Saturday afternoon and beforehand enjoyed the casual lunch in the dining room where we chatted with a few of the 'older members'. Give me this over Wentworth any day!

There is certainly plenty of heather and rather large bunkers that nearly all had heather eyebrows. Back to back par 3's is unusual, but what great holes are the 5th and 6th. The 5th is amongst the pines whilst the 6th is a long carry (226 yards to the green) over a large pond with thick heather and bracken to the left and bunkers to the right. Shorter hitters can play it as a par 4 dogleg left around the pond. We had trouble seeing the flag on the 7th green - no wonder, there is a huge tree literally right beside the green.

 The middle of the back nine is extremely picturesque. We had extra time to admire the view whilst the horses and their riders strode casually along the bridle track across the fairways. The par 3, 12 th is 221 yards, much of it over heather whilst the 15th is 145 yards of delight with a small pond right in front of the green. The par 4, 16th should be ranked harder than Index 15. The drive is blind and uphill and the second shot is over a deep valley of thick heather with a steep slope in front of the green.

Although there are no fairway sprinklers they were still quite green. This is one of Peter Thomson's favourite heathland courses and it is certainly one of mine.

       (photo- the spectacular par 3, 6th at West Sussex)

Wentworth did not bother to answer my several detailed emails so I organized a game on the West Course with a member -even then the green fee was hefty.

It is really more of a good parkland course with not much heather. The greens were quite fast and were excellent as were the bunkers. It was a lovely sunny August day and even allowing for the previous day's rain the fairways seemed very soft and over-watered. The green settings at the 1st and 2nd are as good as any on the course. The par 4, 6th has a tiger tee hidden behind 20 feet high trees in planter boxes that can be rolled away on rails to reveal the championship tee.

There are water hazards in front of the 8th and 18th greens, the latter being the more recent work of Ernie Els. I will join with the many who have complained that the green is far too narrow given the pond in front.

There are strict handicap limits for the West Course - 18 for men. It is quite long at just under 7000 yards from the white tees and 7302 from the championship tees.

I might have summed it up unfairly but the whole atmosphere seemed pretentious and one of 'making money' and whilst the course was good it was not worth what they are charging.

           (photo Wentworth West Course- par 5,17th -610 yards from the back tee.)

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