Mak­ing the Mas­ters

From Oc­to­ber 11 to 14, the great and the good of pro­fes­sional golf will tee up at Wal­ton Health Golf Club for the 2018 Bri­tish Mas­ters. We shine a spot­light on the club as it ends an ex­tra­or­di­nary year

Surrey Life - - Inside -

Shin­ing the spot­light on Wal­ton Heath Golf course as it pre­pares for the fa­mous tour­na­ment

Since its foun­da­tion in 1903, Wal­ton Heath Golf Club has pro­jected an in­tox­i­cat­ing fu­sion of his­tory, tra­di­tion, el­e­gance and charm. To that mix­ture, add a dash of world class com­pe­ti­tion, and the lat­est chap­ter in the club’s rich and dis­tin­guished his­tory is ready to be penned.

Lo­cated near Wal­ton-on-theHill in Tad­worth, Wal­ton Heath, as its name sug­gests, oc­cu­pies a large swathe of glo­ri­ous heath­land, en­com­pass­ing two 18-hole golf cour­ses. Burst­ing with an ex­plo­sion of vi­brant pur­ple heather, the Old and New cour­ses are con­sis­tently ranked in the top-100 in the world.

How­ever, 2018 has been no or­di­nary year for this very un­or­di­nary golf club. Al­ready, two lead­ing events for elite pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur play­ers have taken place at Wal­ton Heath and this month comes the sea­son’s fi­nale; the club is brac­ing it­self for thou­sands of golf fans de­scend­ing on the venue to watch one of the big­gest sport­ing events in the UK the Bri­tish Mas­ters.

From Oc­to­ber 11 to 14, the great and the good of pro­fes­sional golf will tee up on a com­pos­ite course com­pris­ing 16 holes of the Old and two of the New to cre­ate a tour­na­ment lay­out de­signed to test the world’s best. The Bri­tish Mas­ters is the cul­mi­na­tion of a packed com­pet­i­tive cal­en­dar which tests ev­ery one of the

at­ten­tive staff and green­keep­ers work­ing on pre­sent­ing Wal­ton Heath as one of the jew­els in the crown of heath­land golf cour­ses in this coun­try. Adding a touch of style and class to the £3 mil­lion event is the fact that the ‘host’ for the week is none other than Justin Rose, the reign­ing Olympic golf gold medal­list from neigh­bour­ing Hamp­shire.

Club sec­re­tary, Stu­art Christie, is rel­ish­ing the re­turn of a Euro­pean Tour event after a 27-year ab­sence. “It cer­tainly keeps us on our toes, pre­par­ing the two cour­ses for tour­na­ment golf at dif­fer­ent times of the sea­son,” says Christie. “In early June, we staged the Euro­pean Qual­i­fier for the US Open Cham­pi­onship for the 14th suc­ces­sive year; then in July we were blessed with su­perb weather for the an­nual Wal­ton Heath Tro­phy for elite am­a­teur golfers. Now we have a world class pro­fes­sional tour­na­ment in mid-oc­to­ber.”

The tour­na­ment is ex­pected to fea­ture many of the high­es­tranked play­ers in the world and they will en­counter an eye-catch­ing part of Sur­rey coun­try­side, which once en­joyed the pa­tron­age of four Prime Min­is­ters, in­clud­ing Win­ston Churchill, and which re­mains the only Club in Eng­land to have had a reign­ing monarch as Cap­tain – King Ed­ward VIII in 1935-36.

With the agree­ment to host the tour­na­ment only rub­ber-stamped last Oc­to­ber, Christie ap­pre­ci­ates that it has been a tight timescale to make all the nec­es­sary changes, big and small, to the club’s fa­cil­i­ties.

“We would nor­mally ex­pect a few years to pre­pare but it wasn’t the case for the Bri­tish Mas­ters,” he ex­plains. “For­tu­nately, we have a strong track record as a tour­na­ment venue and we are con­fi­dent that the play­ers, spec­ta­tors and a global tele­vi­sion au­di­ence will en­joy the tour­na­ment enor­mously,” he says.

Rose had no hes­i­ta­tion in se­lect­ing Wal­ton Heath as his pre­ferred lo­ca­tion for the event, and he has un­der­scored his de­sire to help de­liver a high­class prod­uct by mak­ing a se­ries of per­sonal vis­its to the club, in­ter­act­ing with of­fi­cials, me­dia and even a class of star-struck Year Five pupils from Waltonon-the-hill Pri­mary School, who par­tic­i­pated in a putting clinic be­fore check­ing out Rose’s Olympic medal.

“This is one of my favourite places to play golf,” the 38-yearold en­thuses, “and it’s go­ing to be amaz­ing when the big crowds come out. I had plenty of venue op­tions to host the Bri­tish Mas­ters but I was pretty res­o­lute that this is where I wanted to take it. It doesn’t get any bet­ter than this, es­pe­cially when you get out on the course. The views across the heath are stun­ning. The Bri­tish Mas­ters comes just two weeks after The Ry­der Cup in France and it would be great to come here off the back of a Euro­pean vic­tory. Be­lieve me, I will be cam­paign­ing in the locker rooms to get as many of our team to come and play Wal­ton Heath.”

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