Woburn Golf Club,
Little Brickhill, Milton Keynes,
With its rolling and undulated terrain, set within 200 acres of mixed woodland, the Marquess’ course provides an enjoyable and testing challenge for golfers of all levels, with each hole possessing its own distinctive character.
The Marquess' may have a big finish, but it's hard to find an easy stretch on the golf course, especially from the back markers with the course stretched to its full length of 7,213 yards. Stand on the first tee and there appears to be acres of space to drive the ball, but finding the right spot on the fairway is just one of many keys to playing the Marquess' well.
"The greatest fun I have ever had on a golf course"
Justin Rose, 2002 British Masters Winner
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The Marquess Course, designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark, European Golf Design (Ross McMurray) and Alex Hay opened in 2000. The course was named after the then Marquess of Tavistock and was soon referred to as the 'Jewel in the Crown'.
Set within 200 acres of mixed woodland the Marquess's course overlaps the county boundary dividing Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire and presents a variety of rolling and undulating terrain. The predominant tree species are pine, spruce, sweet chestnut and oak, while there are a number of rare specimens such as Corsican pine, yew, rowan and beech.
The course was designed on the basis that the opening hole, as with the 10th, should be gentle and generous and that is the way they both are. Don’t be fooled! Make the most of it.
You begin to sense the design skills. Subtle bunkers combine with historic lofty trees to let you know this is a thinking golfer’s course. There is little reward for attempts to cut corners.
Dog-legging left over the crest of a slope, which then offers a magnificent view to the green. However, the two bunkers on the left give the illusion of being close to it, when actually it is some 50 yards short. Many fall for this and under club.
From the back tee there is an uncanny likeness to Augusta’s 17th. The tree on the left resembles Augusta's Eisenhower Tree in height, shape and position. Then like Augusta’s 14th there are no bunkers but a similarly difficult green to get near the flag.
Very few holes anywhere are as attractive. Two glorious beech trees guard the corner and greedy drivers can find trouble on the left when attempting to steal a few yards.
It looks a piece of cake, but beware! The massive tree short of the green makes everything look closer than it is so the ‘bite’ at the front of the green gathers many balls.
This is the signature hole on the course, with its stunning split fairway, offers the choice of playing it as a conventional par 5 up the left or taking the risk of playing up the right and attempting to reach in two.
Perfect choice of club is the key. A raised and undulating small green makes this short hole play tougher than it would suggest.
With a helping wind some may tee off with a 3 wood to stay short of the ravine. Be warned, do not stay too far short of it and do not favour the left from where a wonderful oak must then be carried.
Left of centre from the tee is the sensible line to the gentle start to the back nine. Club selection is key for your second shot in order to find the right part of this large green. Enjoy this hole because things get tougher from here!
This is a long Par 5, which demands respect, few would ever get home in two, its gentle undulations feed balls into the sand at every strategic point, then a tough green awaits.
Every good course has its controversial hole.
Stroke index one, where being long is a great advantage. For the second shot the need to come in from the right by average length hitters is thwarted by the hole’s only bunkering. A par here feels like a birdie!
The much loved late Chairman of Woburn, Lord Swaythling, thought this to be one of the best short holes he’d ever seen. Long and demanding, often taking everything you’ve got but with its huge rolling green waiting to reward the best of shots, almost a reflection of the man. It is called Swaythling, enjoy it.
Take time to visit the back tee and enjoy the panorama, which Woburn’s former Managing Director and BBC Commentator, the late Alex Hay, considered one of the most magnificent in golf. The third shot into this difficult green is one or sometimes two clubs more than you think, especially into the generally prevailing wind.
Ewan Murray, on Sky Television, once described the last 5 holes as the toughest played on the European tour. You are now in the middle of them. Carrying the huge greenside bunker from such a long way out is the most difficult task. Often better to come in from the right and avoid it.
Should the pin be back and left this is not the pushover hole it looks. Take plenty of club and let the right to left slope of the green sweep the ball around. Under no circumstances be fooled into under clubbing.
‘Bombs Away!’ In the gulley, to the right of the tee, a greenkeeper found the fin of one of 78 Mustard Gas Mortar bombs. Woburn’s forest had sheltered military weapons prior to the invasion of Normandy and the bombs, which incidentally had exactly the same range as the hole’s yardage were accidently left.
Since opening in June 2000 the Marquess course has hosted four British Masters tournaments. In 2016 Woburn hosted its first Major Championship on the Marquess course, The Ricoh Women's British Open, which returned in 2019 as The AIG Women's British Open. Between 2014 and 2017 the course was one of four in the country used to stage Final Qualifying for The Open.
The Duchess Course is a fine example of a course built for the thinking golfer, often referred to as a "Hidden Gem"
The Dukes Course designed by Charles Lawrie opened in 1976 and was the first of Woburn's three courses to be constructed