Woburn Golf Club,
Little Brickhill, Milton Keynes,
The Duchess Course, opened in 1978, is a fine example of a course built for the thinking golfer, often referred to as a "Hidden Gem"
"Woburn's Duchess' Course is Britain's best kept secret. More than most courses, this hidden gem puts a massive premium on straight hitting. Anyone who can handle the Duchess' can play just about any course".
Ian Poulter, Woburn Touring Professional
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The Duchess' Course, also designed by Charles Lawrie, opened in April 1978, two years after the Duke's Course. The course design encompasses a ridge across the 5th and 11th fairways, which are the site of an ancient Danish settlement.
Although slightly shorter, the Duchess Course offers a different challenge. Accurate driving and pinpoint iron play are the order of the day on a course with narrower fairways and approaches to greens. Anyone who has played the course knows this is a layout that demands as much respect as the adjacent Duke's and Marquess courses.
One of the most demanding tee shots anywhere. Drive as far left as you dare for the fairway slope will take your ball into the rough, or even the trees on the right. Should it do so, remember to ring the bell when you pass for others waiting on the tee.
The tough start continues. A fairly long but extremely narrow short hole, considered by many to be a ‘signature’ hole it allows no tolerance for anything other than straight.
Its yardage suggests a pushover but it certainly is not! Some play less than a driver, however the shorter the second the better to this tiny green, so don’t leave too much to do.
A precisely hit draw round the corner of this Par 5, right to left dog leg, is required off the tee. A straight drive can run out of ground and finish in the trees on the right. The left side of the fairway should be favoured with the second shot.
First sight of the ancient Danish fortifications, which lie across several holes. Drive over it favouring the left side so as not to be blocked out for the second.
Long hitters enjoy the freedom here to unleash a long drive. Only they might reach the green in two, others should consider laying up short of the bunkers with second shots.
The Fortification plays its part here. A tee shot coming up short will probably be kicked off the bank. It is further than it looks. Be up!
A dramatic dog leg to the right. Failing to pass the corner or being greedy and trying to cut it can cause problems. Average hitters can use a driver and play to the centre, if uncertain then at least use a 3 wood. Wise is the golfer who knows how to play each hole as it should be played and skilful the golfer who can place their shots after they know where they should go.
The left side of the fairway offers the best route to well positioned green. Beware as a shade too far left can find a bad bounce from the slope kicking it into the trees. No relief here!
Time to hit it! Not just once, but with your second shot too. Long and straight, few get home in two.
A tough bunker protects the front left of the green. It pays to drive up the right of this hole.
A wonderful dog leg to the left. Cutting the corner is not recommended, much safer right of centre, but make sure you get exact yardage, for your second could be over the bunker.
A false front to a slightly sunken green causes most to under club. Don't be short.
Stroke index one for good reason, nevertheless you can be ambitious from the tee. Favour the right side of the fairway, not because of the fairway bunker, but because of the one by the left of the green, one of the busiest bunkers on the course.
Another opportunity to open the shoulders. The closer to the top of the hill you drive the more chance of getting close to, or even on the green of this par 5.
Nothing to it. Just be sure you have the right club. The large surrounding trees tend to make the green look closer.
A wonderful finishing hole. Favour the left side of the fairway. Cutting the corner to the right is really pointless and will normally leave you stymied.
The Duchess' course was used to stage the Ford Ladies Classic between 1985 and 1994 with Laura Davies and Liselotte Neumann amongst the winners. The Seniors Open Amateur Championship and The English Amateur Championship were also played on the Duchess' Course.
The Duke's Course designed by Charles Lawrie opened in 1976 and was the first of Woburn's three courses to be constructed
The Marquess course openend in June 2000 and was soon referred to as the "Jewel in the Crown"