2018 British Masters Golf - Course & Venue Guide
Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey plays host to this year’s British Masters. The classic English course has a rich history and welcomes a strong field. The revitalised competition is being hosted by Justin Rose in what has been a vintage year in the Englishman’s 20-year professional career.
The British Masters can trace its roots back to the 1930s and counts some of the greatest names of golf among its champions. After a seven-year hiatus, the competition returned to the European Tour in 2015 and boasts one of the biggest prize purses of the year. The 2018 British Masters promises to be a great four days of golf.
Where is Walton Heath?
The former Ryder Cup venue is nestled on the edge of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Walton Health occupies a picturesque setting and boasts a history like no other.
Designed by Herbert Fowler, the Old Course opened for business in May 1904 and Walton Heath is the only club which can boast that it had a reigning monarch as a member. The Duke of Windsor was club captain when he became King Edward VIII in 1935. Winston Churchill was a member between 1910 and 1965 and three other British prime ministers have graced the club with their patronage.
Walton Health sits just inside the M25 and the building of the motorway actually shaved a little off the golf club’s land in the 1970s. Despite its proximity, you can only really hear the rumble of traffic in some corners of the course.
The club is 15 miles north of Gatwick Airport and a little over half an hour's drive from London. There are nearby rail stations at Tadworth, Kingswood and Tattenham Corner.
What Does Walton Health Play Like?
The British Masters will play out on the Old Course, which is considered the finer of the two 18-hole tests at the club. The New Course was completed just three years after its older neighbour and, though it is longer in yardage terms, it plays a little easier than the championship layout.
Walton Heath feels something like an inland links course, with a vast heathland setting stretching out as far as the eye can see. An October tee-off is an intriguing prospect. The heather blooms of the summer will have died back but the rough will remain bouncy enough to lay claim to a few lost balls.
The Old Course boasts some fairly generous fairways with flawless turf, though most days the front nine plays into a prevailing oncoming wind, which only adds to the challenge. There are trees in abundance, but the course feels very open. The greens play fast and stay true, but some subtle undulations make for many a tricky putt.
The back nine eases off a little, though plenty will have had their scorecard decimated on the outward half by then. Like all great courses, Walton Heath’s final three holes build to a suitable crescendo on the return to a clubhouse which seems to somehow sit patiently back from the action.
Most Exciting Holes At The 2018 British Masters
The Old Course begins with a par-three, something which occasionally confuses the purists. Admittedly it’s a curious opener and hints little at the beautiful holes to come. The first is a long 230-odd yards which requires a fully warmed up sweet three-wood to reach a pin invariably protected by one of the surrounding bunkers. Plenty will drop a shot here.
The second was actually playing as the first when Walton Heath hosted the 1981 Ryder Cup and adds the challenge of a raised green early in the round. The front nine then opens up with a rich mixture of trials which will test accuracy, tactics and nerve.
After the turn, the course continues to mix playable par-fives with clever par-fours and tricky par-threes. Heather comes into play at every turn with dog legs and cunning bunkers (nicknamed “Fowler’s Graves”) adding sufficient obstacles to ensure concentration is an absolute necessity.
The triumphant final three holes may yet be where the British Masters is won and lost. The 16th is a former par-five which now plays as a four and abounds with trouble on all sides.
The penultimate test is a reshaped par-three with steep sand traps surrounding the green, before the 18th lies between the winner and his trophy. The final hole requires a drive of perfection and an approach which must avoid a bunker on the left and heather to the right.
The Americans famously trod all over the Europeans in the 1981 Ryder Cup at Walton Heath. Hailed as the greatest team ever assembled for the biennial trophy, Trevino, Nicklaus, Watson et al set the bar for how to play the Old Course. But who will follow in their footsteps and claim the 2018 British Masters? You can check out the latest odds and bet on the 2018 British Masters here at Bet UK.
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