2023 AIG Women's Open | August 10-13
Explore the course guide for Walton Heath, the host of the 2023 AIG Women's Open. The Championship was played over a composite layout of the Old and New Courses at the Surrey venue.
The 1st actually plays as the 2nd hole for the members on Walton Heath’s Old Course, one of two tracks at the incredible Surrey property. The hole is beautiful, with trees framing a rolling dogleg that goes up and down to the right, and offers an enticing first tee shot for the world's best in August. The opening shot appears very wide on the tee, but the fairway narrows at the ideal hitting zone, a feature of the course throughout. A long iron or wood is likely all that is required. In firm and fast conditions, finding the fairway in the right spot is difficult with the severe downhill slope at the foot of the hill making control tricky, rough long and to the left, and a lone tree to the right side blocking out second shots that don’t go far enough down the hill. Heather also awaits to the right for aggressive tee shots that flare too far off line. A good tee shot still leaves a long approach to be played now going up a significant hill to a large rectangular green with subtle movements. Judging distance in firm conditions is the hardest element of the approach, which is never likely to be playing short. All things considered par here is a good score to start.
The 2nd, which plays as 4th on the Old for the members, is a long par-4 that if played into the wind can represent a very difficult test. Heading out along the left edge of the property, two gaping fairway bunkers represent tests off the tee with the central fairway bunker particularly ominous. Heather remains to the right of the fairway but shots finding this have been hit quite a way from their intended line. The green again is large and rectangular, and short cross bunkers narrow the gap slightly for a running entrance. Missing to the left is the worst option, particularly if the pin is left, as a run-off area awaits to collect wayward shots.
The 3rd hole doglegs gently to the left, and like the 1st has a very wide looking fairway off the tee that progressively narrows the further down the player goes. However, as the shot plays downhill, an aggressive play further down the hole is likely to be rewarded with a short approach back up a slight hill to a raised green. This green is slopier from back to front than the previous two holes, and two bunkers on the right and left of the surface present a stern defence for tucked pins, as well as a nasty rough slope to the back right that leaves a difficult up and down. The trickiest element for the players, if played into the prevailing wind, will be controlling the spin of their approach shots and accessing back flags.
The 4th is yet another difficult par-4 on what is a tough opening stretch, particularly if into the wind. Playing at over 400 yards, this is most probably the tightest tee shot that shorter hitters will face the entire round. Two left sided bunkers cut into the fairway at short carry distance and heather awaits on the right-hand side. For longer players, or when the wind is down, a carry over the second trap should be more simple on a straightaway hole. From there, an approach awaits to the first green to be set at an angle to the fairway, making the target slightly smaller and the deep front left bunker a greater hazard. The green again possesses subtle slopes and it will be up to the players to work them out as quickly as they can.
The first par-3 at Walton Heath that the world's best will play during the AIG Women’s Open, the 5th hole represents a good birdie chance, and in fact the start of a scorable stretch in the middle of the round. At 170 yards or so, the green is fairly generous in size and the wind typically will be off the right with a touch of help as the players make the first deviation away from the direction of the first four holes. The hole is set slightly in a cluster of trees however, so swirling wind must certainly be taken into account. A deep bunker sits to the right and is the lone hazard on what is a straightforward, and beautiful hole played over a sea of heather.
After a quick break in direction, the players turn right to once more play along the left side of the property. This time, they are faced with a fairly long par-5 all the way to the far edge of the incredible Walton Heath grounds. This hole is an attritional test, with hazards placed at varying positions in the hitting area for the tee shot and probable layup. At 500 yards, uphill and usually into the wind, most players will likely hit their tee shot up the centre right of the fairway, endeavouring to stay out of the lone bunker on that side and heather further right. From there, a layup may be required with more bunkers up the right demanding successful navigation. The longest players can have a crack in two, although bunkers front right and left make that option slightly less appealing. The green itself is an excellent par-5 green, in the shape of an upside-down bowler hat, and possesses significant movement and a steep false front. All in all, a superb par-5 that could yield eagles in the right wind conditions and possibly a few doubles across the week. A birdie here though, and players will be excited to play more scorable holes coming up.
The 7th hole offers a fun tee shot, doglegging around a small group of trees as players turn back from the very far end of the course. The ideally placed tee ball is far enough down the fairway and past the cluster of trees, a task relatively easy for the top players in the world. This is crucial however to not only avoid the trees on the left, but one singular tree up by the green. If a tee shot is not positioned correctly, the tree can take as much as 10 yards of target away from the left side of the very wide green. This is not ideal should the pin be tucked on that side. A front bunker also can gobble up shots that hit the tree or come up just short. The green itself is huge and some long putts can be found on this hole. Good putting touch is required across every hole at Walton Heath, and the 7th is no exception.
The 8th is a visually impressive hole, and has another tee shot that most players should deal with well. It is a par-4 played downhill again for the fourth time of the round, and aggressive players can move their ball down to the bottom of the fairway from the tee, where a flat lie awaits an approach back up the hill and to the right. A lone bunker to the left infringes just enough to require attention, particularly when it cannot be carried should the fairways be too fast, and difficult stances can await on the right particularly if the fairway is missed, but most approaches can still be managed on this hole that is a great birdie chance in the majority of conditions. With a wedge or short iron in hand, many players will be able to attack pins on this green, and leave themselves good chances for birdie. The real challenge again lies in distance control, this time playing with the wind up the hill. A deep bunker front and right is also a must-avoid hazard, as it leaves an uphill and difficult scramble to save par.
The 9th hole, played as the 11th on the Old Course for Walton Heath members, is a beautiful par-3 that is the first relatively flat hole since the last par-3, the 5th. Big bunkers await on all sides of the green and the hole is long, nearly at 200 yards and with wind generally into and across. The green is relatively wide however and just deep enough to hold shots from a long distance. The green itself is huge and with some strong slopes running through it, so it is no easy task to avoid three putts from distance, which will more often than not be the putt that faces players on a hole with such length. Par here is a good score.
The 10th hole represents the most extreme dogleg in the round so far, and is a brilliant way to begin the turn for home. The fairway angles to the right from the tee and slopes uphill, allowing for faster shots to be softened by the topography. However the safe line from the tee is less than ideal, and in fact a more aggressive line taking on the visible bunker and tree to the right centre of the fairway leaves a very short approach and a great chance at making birdie. However this tee shot is not easy to pull off, especially for players who shape the ball right to left, as the trees to the very right of the tee box are immediately in play and shots that hook too far to the left could leave a downhill lie from the rough for an approach. Coming from the downhill rough especially must be avoided, especially when considering the green is possibly the most protected on the course. A bunker awaits short, and the very shallow green lies parallel to the approach with two treacherous bunkers waiting behind that must not be found. A brilliant hole that can yield a birdie but can catch out the over-aggressive player.
The second par-5 on the course, the 11th presents an interesting challenge off the tee. The hole plays uphill from the tee, but is not fully blind, and the visible trees and bunkers to the right will make players want to take the safe route left. However, with the hole doglegging in a semi-circle to the right, the aggressive play will be for the longer hitters to try and carry the bunkers and shorten the hole considerably, enabling a crack at the green. With the prevailing wind down and off the left, this can be done, but depending on the tee position, this may or may not be possible, and if presented with challenging conditions, players may be required to layup short of the bunkers. From there a second layup will be required, avoiding a well positioned cross-bunker, before an approach into a green that visually appears further away than it is. There is not much trouble around the green, other than two short bunkers that make running shots into the green tricky. A good birdie chance in normal conditions, and a potential eagle chance in the right conditions.
The 12th hole for the AIG Women’s Open is the first hole to be taken from the New Course at Walton Heath, and plays as the 12th on that course too for the members. A pretty straightforward tee shot awaits, with the fairway angled very slightly to the right of the tee box. If the fairway is found, a fairly short approach awaits to a narrow, long green. A small, nasty bunker sits to the left of the surface, and is very much in play for any left sided pin position, particularly back left, where the bunker must be carried to access the flag.
The second and final hole from the New Course for the AIG Women’s Open layout is the 13th, a hole which plays directly back along the previous hole, the 12th. A long par-4, the fairway narrows significantly at driving distance thanks to a huge heather-lined bunker to the right hand side. Aggressive players may take a crack at carrying the trap and give themselves a shorter approach, but many players will opt to leave their tee shot short and have a longer approach in. From there, two bunkers short of the green to the right, and particularly short left, could cause issues with the approach. The green again is fairly large and has some sharp movements in it.
The 14th tee represents one of the most beautiful spots on the course. In all directions players can see the various holes of the New and Old courses running alongside each other across Walton Heath’s vast property. One of the most striking is the par-4 they are about to play. Headed slightly downhill all the way, seas of heather line the right and left sides of the hole, providing great definition. Bunkers await on both sides of the fairway and come into play depending on club choice. The two bunkers down the right present the biggest issues, with a protruding trap near driving distance obvious from the tee. If the fairway is found, the approach again plays downhill with the green sloping back to front making spin control very important and a difficult task to judge.
The 15th hole runs back at a 60 degree angle to the 14th, presenting its own challenges in judging the wind, as a forest of trees sits just to the right. The tee shot is straight away but the fairway is not as wide as some others on the course. The left side is the safer option, with two bunkers to the right, so long as players don’t veer too far left into the heather. That side in fact presents the best angle to attack the green too, which has a cross bunker protecting it in front and a bunker to the right which is a no-go zone on the approach.
The last par-5 at Walton Heath is the 16th, which is a great risk and reward hole and the best birdie chance left in the round. The course having looped around from the front nine, the hole plays along a left tree line, opposite to the one played along the first few holes, and comes back parallel to the 15th. The second half of the hole doglegs to the left considerably, making the tee shot both interesting and important. Favouring the right half is crucial from the tee, with a bunker crossing almost the entire fairway further up on that side. Some players in the right conditions will be able to reach the green after their tee shot, with others choosing to lay up to the right. The second shot doglegs significantly to the left and is played tightly along the trees, which can absolutely come into play if out of position. The big problem for over-ambitious attempts at the green is one of the deepest bunkers in the south of England waiting to the right of the surface, which itself is set uphill from the fairway to the right. The green is also strongly back to front and is no easy challenge. Players who get too much right-to-left movement on their approach too can find a small heather-filled grass bunker that is no picnic either. Potential for eagle awaits, but disaster is also waiting round the corner on this great par-5.
The penultimate hole at Walton Heath is the par-3 17th, a hole that plays downhill to a visually beautiful green. The hole is not long at just over 150 yards, but if played into the prevailing wind distance control can be difficult. Two front bunkers also await to catch balls that stall in the air, and trees back left can come into play for wayward approaches, bringing all sorts of possibilities into play. Back flags in particular can be difficult, with a very narrow strip of green at the back of the putting surface a testing, and tempting, position for the pin. In all likelihood, three at the 17th will be a good score come August, particularly if players are in contention for the title. A two is never out of the question however...
The closing hole at Walton Heath is a hole fitting of a major finale. A difficult hole played uphill, two bunkers await on the left hand side of the fairway that can potentially catch players out. Heather and trees await to the right as well should nerves get the better of any player and they were to flare it out in that direction. An eye-catching cross bunker sits 30 yards short of the green, and though it may not come into play for the world's best from the fairway, anybody playing from the heather will be concerned about carrying it. The green is long and fairly narrow, with deep bunkers sitting along both sides. With a middle-back pin in particular, a fairly tricky approach shot awaits. A firm test of nerve is required to tackle the 18th, particularly with the AIG Women’s Open title potentially on the line come August.