Reigate Heath: Alliss’s ‘Little Gem’ Hits The Headlines Again
Reigate Heath Golf Club has won national acclaim from two different authorities: the new GB&I Top 100 Fun Courses guide, and from connoisseur golfing authority Fine Golf.
Nine holer Reigate Heath Golf Club has not only been ranked 40 in the new Top 100 Fun Courses* guide by Sports Publications Ltd, but has also been commended by Fine Golf** for more than meeting every one of its ‘joy to be alive’ criteria.
When Peter Alliss described Reigate Heath as ‘A little gem’ while playing with celebrities like Kiri Te Kanawa for three holes in his 1983 hit TV series ‘A Round With Alliss’, he couldn’t have guessed it would be 35 years until two of the UK&I’s foremost authorities gave their formal support to his opinion.
While both commend the heathland course and its architecture, Fine Golf’s review focuses in detail the type and condition of its fairway grasses and greens along with the clubhouse experience. Only 200 of the UK&I’s 3,000+ golf courses have received Fine Golf’s accolades over the past 10 years.
Chris Bertram, the driving force behind the new Top 100 Fun Course guide from Sports Publications, the power behind National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer magazines, said in his introduction: “…the whole concept appealed greatly – that simply thinking about which courses gave the panel the most fun brought clarity to their minds and reminded them why we love the game so much.”
He went on to say: “…having been reminded most of us play the game for entertainment rather than to be destroyed by an unforgiving examination, the courses that provide the former ought to be regarded a little more fondly than they are, even if they are highly rated already.”
In the guide at no. 40, Bertram’s panel wrote of Reigate Heath: ‘What to expect: a nine-hole course of great scenic and architectural appeal. You will do well to find a prettier nine holer. Doesn’t need length to protect itself. Use of a common for shared activities has hugely influenced how I view golf. In summary: a sumptuous heathland (course) with terrific shorter par 4s and 3s.’
FineGolf’s (finegolf.co.uk) publisher Lorne Smith is a passionate devotee of Jim Arthur’s legacy to top quality course maintenance and greenkeeping. His review said: “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.”
Smith’s ‘joy to be alive’ factors encompass the golfing experience from first tee, fairways and greens to clubhouse changing rooms, bar and ambience. The FineGolf website states: ‘A fine course is set up for the running game’ and criteria include turf quality, speed of play, heritage and ambience, the welcome, the locker room, the pro shop, practice facilities, dining and bar facilities, and accessibility.
There again, Reigate Heath’s members have always known this, as have thousands of visitors who come from far and wide to experience the pleasure this unique nine holer delivers in spades.
There again, it’s only taken 125 years for the rest of the golfing world to discover that nine holes deliver more pleasure and satisfaction per minute than eighteen, and that for most of us leading time pressured lifestyles, nine holes offers an obvious way forward for the game of golf.
For more information:
Top 100 Fun Courses in the UK&I
Sports Publications Ltd. GoGolfing Autumn 2018
Page 23: No. 40 Reigate Heath
*(waiting for the link to the digital version of Golfing Autumn issue)