Architects: J.H.Taylor & Tom Simpson
The only true links between Rye and Cornwall.
Hayling is an eclectic concoction of all that links has to offer – sharp pot bunkers, hard and fast turf, quietly undulating greens, blind shots, gorse and need we forget … wind!
My first visit in early February 2022 was a baptism of fire. Again, I must emphasise we are in February and the ball was bouncing, bounding even. The turf on the Sinah Common is supreme, and as a Site of Special Scientific Interest it is stunning also. Undulating dunes framed with fescue, heather and gorse. One of the more beautiful, and perhaps hidden details (depending if you find the fairway or not) is the lichen – the circulatory system for all flora and a pulsating silver carpet.
To be honest, I fell for Hayling long before my visit. So much so, that I committed to becoming a Distant Member off the back of photography from the likes of Jason Livy and Sam Cooper. And of course the rumours circulating that this is the most underrated links in the land. I can safely say that I agree with this gossip and all it took was the sight from the balcony upon the glorious Art Deco clubhouse that surveys the opening and closing holes.
A modest start that builds to a deafening crescendo around the turn. In all fairness it is a protracted crescendo that lasts from Hole 7 to Hole 13. 7 holes of expertly entertaining and engaging links design. Beginning with ‘Death or Glory’ and ending at ‘Widow’ – a tad morbid perhaps but full of delight. Each of the holes within this stretch is a jewel, and would happily find their way into the crown of any premier links routing.
A quick run through:
7 – Death or Glory – A 500 yard Par-5 often playing into the prevailing wind. An enormous rolling green is a gorgeous target, overlooked by the Pill Box. A birdie opportunity thanks to the lack of hungry pot bunkers.
8 – Crater – At 350 yards, this Par 4 may be thought of as half-par for some. However, the second is blind and the drive is to an island fairway with a magnetic and penal bunker standing sentry.
9 – Plain – A solid par 4 and muted in comparison but a stern test none the less.
10 – Pan-Ko-Chai – What a name! Now this is the half-par hole to end all half-par holes. At 270 yards from the tips, it is drivable but the articulate undulations protecting the green makes it tough to stick it close.
11 – Woolseners – Perhaps the signature hole at Hayling. Five pot bunkers loiter and await your ball as it slides off this back-to-front green. Often playing into the prevailing wind off the Solent, this is tough.
12 – Desert – This Par-4 demands an expert drive and an even more astute second. The green site is sublime – elevated and sloping from back to front, with two cavernous bunkers to the left – you can find yourself 7 foot below the putting surface!
13 – Widow – Maybe the most entertaining hole I have played in years. A blind drive that requires balls! It’s only a iron really but a longer club can find yourself on the green of this 340 yard Par-4. But don’t be tempted – too much danger awaits. Your second shot drops down and requires a positive wedge – or a putt if you’re feeling fruity.
There are going to be many visits this year and I cannot wait to be out on the links with the sun and a single strap on my back.