UK Golf Evolving Alongside Surrey’s ‘Traditions’ Course

It’s always interesting to play a golf course that’s evolving around you. Maybe it’s not changing shot to shot, but you can witness changes underway with more to come and wonder what the course will look like when it’s finally complete.

Traditions Golf Course sits in Woking, Surrey (about 30 minutes southwest of London). It’s a quiet upscale stretch of the UK – a bedroom community for the more well-heeled working folks of the great British capital.

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While Woking itself is probably most famous for being H.G. Wells’ pick for where the martians first land in his War of the Worlds, there are several very competent golf courses around the town and nearby Ripley. Traditions was once one of them, but neglect by former management left it trailing some of the region’s better properties.

It’s under new, more aggressive bosses now — and the course is well on its way toward recovering and regaining a very respectable spot on the London golf scene. I played 18 at Traditions recently while taking notes on how the course is re-creating itself. On its own, the course is a very friendly, park style setup — almost resort-like in its ease of play. Fairways are wide, greens are smooth and hazards avoidable. Even while crews work to improve playing surfaces and move tee boxes, a player can still get around the active course with ease.

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Tackling the challenge of upgrading itself wile allowing playing rounds, Traditions is becoming a more challenging course day to day. It’s getting longer and integrating more of the surrounding woodlands as obstacles. It’s improving the quality of its tee boxes and will eventually reinvent its greens.

Time will tell if these changes make the course significantly tougher than it stands now. The choice to be made is if moving the course uptown means alienating some local players who approach it for its less intense layout and feel. There’s always a risk to change — even in golf.

Renovation plans will look to upgrade the clubhouse, locker rooms and pro shop eventually. But, for now, Traditions remains an active work in progress. I’m looking forward to returning to the course sometime in the future to see how a golf course turns out that underwent renovation while remaining open to players.