RaGs and I went exploring again.. This time we paid a visit to Guildford Golf Course. Founded in 1886, Guildford GC is rich in history. Hence more reasons for us to go exploring. Set on the North Downs at Merrow, Guildford Golf Course is a par 69 course and 6160 Yards in length of the competition tees with a Standard Scratch Index of 70. We wanted to hire buggies, but Guildford don’t do buggies, so it was back on trollies.
Being set in the downs, we expected a fair amount of up and down. However, nothing prepared us for one helluve of rollercoaster ride. The opening hole is an 357 Yards, Par 4. The view from the tee box is eye watering. You have to tee off into the valley. I had a cracking opening tee, which saw me in just off the middle of the fairway. RaGs compensated by going off the fairway on the left hand side. As we cantered to the bottom of the valley towards the ball, we realised ‘what goes down has to come up’. Before the second shot, our wind shirts were off. The gravity of the climb to the hole is aptly described in the yardage book as “Up over ‘the Ridge’ with a climb up to the two-tier green that can sort out the previous night’s reveller.” My second shot was caught by the banking at the back. With a second shot on the fringe, I was hoping for a par. However, the fast but two tier green ensured that I shot a 7. RaGs was no better, reached the green in three and then four putted!!. Something told us that this was not going to be a walk in the park.
RaGs powered into an early lead, while I was crumbling away. By the 4th hole, he had two pars and was leading in stroke and match play. I struggled with the slopes and greens. The only flat bits of land that I stood on were the tee box. EVERY fairway was either uphill or downhill or banking left or right or plain rough. No place for errant shots. Being up in the hills meant that wind was becoming a factor on some of the higher holes. Even the greens had a lot of breaks that made it unreadable, compounded by their speed, I was finding them unplayable. All the walking was not helping. Both of us were out of breath and water. Any hopes of finding a half way hut were quickly dashed, as there are none. They do have water fountains, but any hopes raised by the gurgling sounds in the taps are smothered by the fact that the taps did not have any water.
My best hole was probably the 8th (555y, P5). A dogleg right downhill. A good fade followed by an 8 iron saw me on the green. This game me my first genuine opportunity for an eagle, but I had to contend with a par!! RaGs struggled on the back 9 as his game was killed by the exhaustion. By the time we got to the uphill 16th (177y, P3), both of us had given up and were ready to throw our clubs away. 17th is another beauty of a downhill, but we played with gritted teeth. On the 18th – a P4 downhill dogleg right – we went for ‘double or quits’. Great tee shots from both. My second landed to the left of the green, chipped it to close to the hole and then two putted for a bogie. RaG’s second ran past the flag, to stop on the back fringe of the green. Two putts from there got him to next to the hole. He had to hole it from about five feet to win the hole. I guess the exhaustion got him and he missed.
I won an exhausting game, but it was a good day out. GGC could make it easier by allowing buggies. The course is challenging, and can feel like playing crazy golf. It however makes you think about a lot of factors before pulling your club out. After a visit to GGC, I am sure we will appreciate the other ‘normal’ course far more.
Scores: Nothing worth mentioning, both sailed past the 100 mark. I think I was somewhere in the 102-105 mark, while RaGs was about 115-120.