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Reigate Heath

Yardage
5664
Par
67
SSS
68
Built
1895
Architect(s)
Unknown
Nature:
Nine-holer on sandy heathland with fine running grasses, heather and too many trees. Spectacular views across Surrey from iconic clubhouse and WindMill.
Location/Address:
Just south of M25. Postcode RH2 8QR
https://www.reigateheathgc.com/
Secretary
Amanda Godwin
Telephone
01737 242610
Professional
Clifford Gough
Green Keeper
Derek Walder
Reigate Heath Golf club, Lady Henry Somerset,
Reigate Heath Golf club, Lady Henry Somerset,
Access Policy:
Visitors welcomed at any time with differerent deals.
Dog Policy:
Well behaved dogs are welcomed.
Open Meetings:
-
Fees in 1960s
37p
Fees today
£45 - 2018

Review

Reigate Heath, located just over the M25 from Walton Heath, was founded in 1895, eight years earlier than its famous neighbour, as a nine-holer, a format it retains today but with two sets of different tees.

Reigate Heath Golf club, Lady Henry Somerset,

Clubhouse and Mill from 2nd green.

The course plays round a hill on which the beautiful vernacular-style clubhouse and an old windmill are perched, from which one can enjoy some of the best long views in Surrey.

This course is not as well known as that renowned nine-holer Royal Worlington & Newmarket, which may be because its female patron and first President was shunned by the English upper middle-classes, who were expanding golf during the Victorian and Edwardian age and they did not approve of her behaviour.

Reigate Heath Golf club, Lady Henry Somerset,

Lady Henry Somerset, the Club’s early patron.

Born Lady Somers, she married the second son of the Duke of Beaufort in 1872 and her only son was born in 1877. After a separation in 1878 she successfully sued for the custody of her son, an act for which she became ostracised by high society.

However, her social isolation and religious experience inspired her to become a benefactor and she founded homes for the care and treatment of alcoholic women and others in trouble.

In 1895, as she had inherited on her father’s death, part of the ‘manorial waste’ of the Manor of Reigate, she agreed with the club’s founders, a Dr. Stone, his partner Dr. Hewitson, one Jeremiah Colman of mustard fame and resident of Gatton Park, and a Mr. Beaumont, to lease the land to Reigate Heath Golf Club to lay out a nine hole course so that golf could be played.

Reigate Heath Golf club, Lady Henry Somerset,

Clubhouse and Mill from 9th tee in 1909.

Lady Henry Somerset (1855-1921) built the golf clubhouse and in 1900 sold it and its precincts, which included the windmill, to the Club thereby ensuring the Club’s future.

The mill has been restored by the local council who now own it, while the Club has renovated the attractive clubhouse, which is home to a thriving, friendly membership with a homely feel.

The same photo angle from 9th tee but taken in 2017.

Proper firm running golf, available all year round, gives Reigate Heath a real FineGolf  ‘joy-to-be-alive’ feeling and, perhaps because of a limited greenkeeping budget, the predominantly fine grassed greens flourish from the lack of copious fertiliser and pesticides, ably looked after by Derek Walder, the course manager.

The course is a tight one to play and though there were originally few trees on this common heathland there are now Alders and Scots pine in unfortunate profusion.

Reigate Heath Golf club, Lady Henry Somerset,

The drive at the fourth

These form avenues to many of the holes, particularly at the par five fourth which is a strong dogleg left requiring a long drive downhill to reach the corner. The fifth (400 yards), played across heather and a wide plain, requires an accurate second shot uphill to a plateau green between trees, while the eighth (320 yards) plays gently uphill through a valley of trees.

Reigate Heath Golf club, Lady Henry Somerset,

The drive at the fifth.

The course measures only 5664 yards off the back tees but with small firm greens and based on sandy soil, this is a course rich in fine grasses which give a firm bounce and it is easy to run and roll-out of position.

A careful strategy is required on every hole, each having their own individual character enhanced with the few deep well placed bunkers.

Reigate Heath Golf club, Lady Henry Somerset,

The green at the seventh.

The first hole might be thought to be ‘scrappy’; it is played across the hillside of heather, bracken and gorse on to a fairway shared with the second but it is a fine challenging opener, whether played from either of the tees and requires a longer second shot than one might think, to an uphill flat plateau green. It is best not to try to cut off too much distance on the left on the drive where there is a pinch in the fairway at 275 yards.

Reigate Heath Golf club, Lady Henry Somerset,

The drive at the second

The second at about 400 yards needs a well placed drive short of the heather cross hazard and the long, tiered green is protected by bunkers on both sides.

The three par threes are quite delightful. The third hole is uphill at 180 yards but plays as a full 200. The green slopes to the left and needs an approach from the right avoiding the deep bunker to the right, while any weak shot mid-green will be gobbled up by three bunkers up the left; a classic short hole.

Reigate Heath Golf club, Lady Henry Somerset,

The sixth green

The sixth is flat but measures 225 yards and with bunkers left and right greenside and also roads running alongside both sides of the green, there is plenty of challenge in its design.

The ninth is exquisite at 140 yards slightly uphill to a green surrounded by deep, heathery-topped bunkers and is particularly high in fescue/browntop bent, fine perennial grasses with all the smooth, true-running performance one would expect.

Reigate Heath Golf club, Lady Henry Somerset,

Clubhouse behind 9th green and beautiful bunkering

The picturesque clubhouse stands behind, though the windmill is obscured these days by a large oak but as this is on the north side, the air and sun give the agronomy good growing conditions.

Bridleways and dog walkers are common across this SSSI land, upon which the normal flora and fauna of the heath can be found.

Reigate Heath lies hidden away in deepest Surrey with a ridiculously attractive green fee and is a must to be discovered by FineGolfers.

Reviewed by Lorne Smith in 2018.

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