Skip to main content
Walton Heath 2023

Purple peril


Heather dominates course talk

The heather at Walton Heath

It wasn’t the regular subjects of weather, form or fitness that dominated Tuesday’s press conferences at Walton Heath – it was heather.

The pretty purple perennial can be found all around the Surrey venue which this week is hosting the AIG Women’s Open for the first time.

As its name suggests, heather is commonplace in areas of heathland, but it’s a hazard not many non-UK players are familiar with.

American sensation Rose Zhang, who has registered top-10s in her first three majors as a professional, was warned about the flower before she arrived in England, and knows she must avoid it as much as possible this week.

Rose Zhang addresses the media at Walton Heath

She said: “When I came out here, I was well aware of the heather. The heather is beautiful but it's terrible to be in. Not somewhere you want to be this week.

“I guess this is my first time seeing heather. It's definitely a new little obstacle for me looking at the golf course.”

Zhang continued: “I will say that I believe the course is beautiful. It's playing a little bit softer. Just because there's so much rain.

“The whole golf course is a little bit wet, but I think if the golf course continues to be wet, there's bound to be really good players who are going to score low scores.”


Reigning Champion Ashleigh Buhai only played the back nine in a practice round on Monday – but that was enough for her to realise the perils of becoming too acquainted with this unfamiliar flower.

She said: “I don't know what those little purple flowers are for but you don't want to be in those.

“I said to my coach ‘If you're a weekly member here and you don't hit it straight, I think you lose a lot of golf balls’.”

Charley Hull speaks to the press at Walton Heath

One player who is more accustomed to a heathland course is Kettering native Charley Hull, who first played at Walton Heath 10 years ago.

The 27-year-old said: “It suits my eye. I really do like this golf course. I played here first I think back in 2013 and I really liked it then.

“I've just got some good memories of this place. It is a nice golf course and it's not super bouncy, so you can still hit the ball high, which I like.

“You can kind of just see it right ahead of you, and you can see the fairways [and] the shapes, where, [with] links [courses] sometimes it just feels like you're hitting into a field.

“It's nice. It's got the heather and the trees on it, as well. I just like the feel of it.”

Celine Boutier poses with the Evian Championship trophy.

Celine Boutier is the form player coming into this week, having won her last two events, including the last major, the Amundi Evian Championship which was staged in her homeland of France last month.

She acknowledged that the odds of winning three weeks in a row were long, but she believes the Walton Heath layout will suit her game.

Boutier said: “[Walton Heath] is definitely not really what I expected to see or play, but in a good way.

“I think it's a great course. It's definitely very long and very soft. I expected it to be a little bit firmer. I think it's been raining quite a bit here.

“I feel like you have to be very accurate off the tee but also on the approach shots because you have such long clubs. So I think it's going to be a good test and I feel like you have to definitely play well here to be able to score low.”

She added: “I think my long game has been really solid the past few weeks because they were both pretty demanding courses. I feel like you had to be pretty accurate with the approach shots, so I feel like this is going to help me a little bit this week. It's [a] little bit [of a] longer course so I will have a lot of hybrids and stuff like that.

“But I feel like as long as I can hit it off greens and give myself some chances, it should be pretty good.”