Regional Qualifying Feature - Wildernesse Golf Club
Founded in 1890, Wildernesse Golf Club may be one of Kent’s hidden gems and having challenged golfers for over 125 years, it is one of the 13 host venues for Regional Qualifying for The 147th Open.
Now in its fourth year as a host venue, the club’s management pride themselves on the year-round perfect conditioning of the beautiful parkland course and will welcome players looking to book their spot at Carnoustie for The Open this summer.
Club Secretary Andrew Lawrence claims the high-quality conditions and unassuming nature of the course gives Wildernesse its unique character.
“It’s a pretty golf course, probably renowned for the quality of the conditioning of the course. We present the course in immaculate conditions in the summer” said Lawrence. “The greenkeepers put a huge amount of effort into it and recently National Club Golfer included us in the ‘Top 100 English Courses’. One of the ranking criteria was the quality of course presentation and Wildernesse achieved the 3rd highest score against the other top 100 courses. It was a very nice accolade to receive from them and for the greenkeeping teams work to be recognised.”
“Essentially, it’s a course that hasn’t changed much over the last 60 or 70 years, we haven’t particularly lengthened it – it’s still a tough challenge. It’s not a long course by today’s standards, from the back tees it’s only 6,500 yards. It never gets taken apart, it’s a clever design that’s stood the test of time” added Lawrence.
Originally opened in 1890, Wildernesse is believed to have initially been a nine-hole course but after historic golf course architect James Braid made considerable changes in the 1920s, Wildernesse took the shape that largely remains to this day.
Despite some major clubhouse changes, the course has had minimal alterations apart from a few bunkers, and Lawrence claims the length and tightness provide enough of a challenge for golfers.
He said: “Wildernesse has been here for over 125 years and technology has moved on so much that everyone hits the ball further, and the modern clubs allow people to hit it higher and the carry is further.”
“As a result a number of our bunkers over time are in a position that penalised the higher-handicapped player, the player who hits a bit shorter. So what we’ve done is put bunkers in a position where they’re catching the longer hitter, so they have to think more.”
“You’ve got to be pretty accurate off the tee. If you look at past scores in Regional Qualifying, level par has got you through at Wildernesse. I think that’s testimony to the course design which has stood the test of time.”
“We’re always very proud to be asked by The R&A to host qualifying for the biggest Championship in the world. Regional Qualifying is the one chance to showcase the club to people. So to us, the Regional Qualifier is the pinnacle of what we do.”