If you've never visited The Addington Golf Club and Mr Spock beamed you onto the first tee, you would never believe you were a mere ten miles from the centre of London. The Addington is an extraordinary heathland golfing paradise. It's a course which has remained virtually unchanged since J.F. Abercromby, the man behind Worplesdon, designed it back in 1914. Many believe the Addington is Abercromby's finest creation.
In the early days, The Addington boasted two golf courses, the Old and the New - 36 of the finest golf holes in England, as good, if not better than Sunningdale. Unfortunately, the New course no longer exists; a housing estate now stands in its place.
The current course is an idiosyncratic affair, with rickety trestle bridges spanning glorious heathland dells. Mature pine and birch trees provide a wonderful feeling of intimacy. It really is a delightful place to be, especially in the winter, because the sandy course drains perfectly and remains bone dry underfoot.
The course measures slightly more than 6,300 yards and opens up with a challenging par three. The 5th hole is a long par four with a slight dogleg to the left. An accurate tee shot is required to the right to the left-sloping fairway. A hanging lie is often the order of the day for the second shot, which is uphill to a well-guarded green. Take plenty of club for the approach shot, which is usually longer than it looks.
Bernard Darwin was a lover of The Addington, especially the new course, which as we have already said, sadly no longer exists. The course we play today remains witness to Abercromby's skill. Or as Darwin said in his book, Golf Between Two Wars: "He had admirable material, the country of sand and heather and birch trees, and with what an artistic eye he used it!"
In 2019, the club appointed Clayton, DeVries & Pont to conduct a long-term course plan with a view to returning the design to its Abercromby origins using historical photography. The aerial images show the course was much more open and tree removal will open up views and assist with heather regeneration. Greens have shrunk by 30-40% so the intention is to push them out again wherever possible. “It's almost like a Rembrandt found in an attic," says Frank Pont. "You need to take four layers of varnish off, just clean it up and bring back what's there. But the whole painting is still there.”
I have played this course numerous times before the changes and it was one of my favourites. The bridges between the dips and gulleys leading you over natural heathland are fantastic and a warning not to let your ball down into there.
The changes are dramatic and will take some time to bed in, of course the holes largely remain the same and it will be fascinating to see how it develops as the heather grows etc.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed a very testing round on a cold January morning. The greens were easily the best UK greens I've ever played on in January. I couldn't believe how good they were, a testament to the green keeping staff. In general course condition was fantastic with little need to ever pick and place.
I would say in winter this course is extremely challenging, we played from the whites and I would say it is best to plot your way round using your strokes wisely.
All of the Par 3s are memorable with 3 of them being long, the 13th is probably the signature par 3 and it is tough!
My favourite holes on the course are the two par 5s on the back 9; the 12th and 16th. Both require thought from the tee and also placement of the second shot unless you somehow can make it in 2.
The heather growth will take some time and for now those areas are GUR. I am sure that once the changes mature then this course will rise up in the rankings.
Played August 2020. I played this course before the extensive renovation work started. When it was 'overgrown' and the ground allegedly sub-par. And immediately I loved it. I'm very much looking forward to playing the course again in 2022. I know it will be better as a result of the changes being made, and quite frankly that's an exciting prospect. For me the course was very much underrated as it was, and its just going to get better and better.
Holes 7-13 were memorable, well framed, and great fun to play. There can't be many better back to back holes as 12 and 13. A rollercoaster 3 shotter, followed by a beast of a 1 shotter. There is a real sense of achievement at parring the 13th.
Other stand out holes are the par 3 7th, the par 4 9th (which requires accurate iron play over ravines off the tee and for the approach), and holes 15-17, which offer up a uniquely challenging par 4, 5 and 3 combination.
The design of this course over the land in which it sits is what makes it, fantastically routed through the trees, and the heather is making a real comeback to provide further framing.
I get the feeling that this place will keep getting better.
A year since I last played and what a transformation. Obviously a better summer for growing fairways but the general condition was incredible which is a massive change from previous years visits. Add in the knowledge / experience of playing the course previously meant that a very enjoyable afternoon was had.
I think the potential upside for this course is massive and I can’t wait to see it come to full maturity in the next few years.
Quick mention - the £80 green fee was reduced to £60 due to some areas of the course being GUR mostly for heather regeneration and tree clearance. That’s extremely generous as the GUR doesn’t really impact playability.
The course itself is a shade under 6000yds from the yellows. However a combination of a 2 club head wind on several holes and it being very much a second shot course meant that it felt closer to 6500yds based on the clubs I was hitting into greens. A fantastic test.
I really wasn't so sure what to believe when I rolled into the gates at The Addington yesterday afternoon. I'd heard mixed reviews about the place but that hasn't stopped me before and it certainly wouldn't now,
This place used to boast two courses, I'm told competing with Sunningdale, so it obviously has a good history. And apparently it was the better course that was sold of for affordable housing all those years ago. The ladies/practice course at that time is the layout we play today,
The one word I would use to describe The Addington is marmite. It's a quirky place and it has some very interesting holes. Discussing it with a friend the day after, one of my favourite holes was 12. Although hitting a 4 iron on a par 5 and still running out of room is frustrating, how unique this hole is really caught my eye. My friends response was "what a joke of a golf hole". Ones mans trash I guess.
It seems a friendly place. I was let through by 4 or 5 groups on this busy Wednesday, one being the club captain who was incredibly pleasant and it's the little touches like this that leave a resonating memory. I ended up being introduced to the deputy head greenkeeper and ended up having a good conversation with the pro about the course and the works that are currently happening. I was shown a 200 odd page book about the proposed changes, and it's amazing the level of detail these people go in to. The greens have shrunk by roughly 33% per hole since 1930 and the fairways considerably smaller too. The heather mostly damaged by the change of ph in soil from tree encroachment will be a main focus for Mike Clayton and Frank Pont which we will see the end product from 2022 (I think)
Another interesting thing about this place is that it's had the same lady captain for 5 years in a row. Turns out The Addington currently has 8 lady members. The golf course is so difficult with big carries, very few ladies join here. Instead the high skilled lady golfers thrive and I'm told there's a very good young lady playing off +4. The mixed foursomes board is looking a little empy in recent years!
As for the condition of the place, the greens were amazing. Some of the fastest I'd played on all year. The fairways on the first few holes did have me questioning what I had gotten myself into but in honesty the rest were very good.
Some fantastic looking wooden bridges across the many dells this course has, and some views of The Shard & Canary Wharf really top this place off. An eagle hole out on 14 was my personal highlight too!
All in all, watch this space! I think this venue will be very good when the changes are made. Maybe not good enough to hold some more serious amatuer competitions but I reckon it's going to be challanging for a place in the top 30.
Interesting historical nugget about the current layout being the former ladies course (and ironic that it’s now considered too difficult for them - and has very few female members).
With regard to the 12th, I don’t think it a divine right you should always be able to hit driver on a Par 5. If it calls for a 5 iron and then forces a decision on the second shot, so be it. This kind of shot might make some Par 5’s more interesting for a range of playing handicaps. You wouldn’t hit a driver on a 175 yard par 3 - also not the best decision - so playing the odd shot that on occasion a hole demands - as opposed to the one you wish to play - can’t be all bad.
Having said this, will be interesting if Pont & Clayton plan to make any changes to this tee shot…
Excellent golfing experience. Those that cant hit long and hard beware, thick rough and heather await.
The course is tricky and requires you to really place shots. My favourite hole was the 11th or the long par 3 12th. I pared all the holes I didn't think I could. Greens were great and felt like a lynx course in the sense that you have to chip and run the ball a lot due to various tiered greens.
Loses a few marks as they are repairing/altering the course and the practice area could be a little better.
However everyone was very friendly and it is a course to be a member of, but it is well worth the green fee being so close to London.
Gets an extra point for the spectacular views on London on certain holes.
Played in April 2021. The Addington is undergoing major works at the moment which have been accelerated to take advantage of the course closures over recent months. Large scale watering systems have been installed and should be functioning shortly. They have also removed over 600 trees to try and bring some light and air to the property that has become more congested over recent years. This work has been particularly aggressive in the area nearest to the clubhouse affecting holes 1-5.
To do a full review of the course in its current state would be unfair as it is a major work in progress. I have made a note to come back in 18 months to see what affect the work has had on the course conditions. As it has been in other comments, the fairways in particular have suffered in recent years, most notably after the long dry summer of 2019. The watering system should have a big effect on the quality of these surfaces going forwards.
Architecturally, again it was difficult to comment too much on the first five holes as they really are heavily work in progress. From the 6th onwards, the work felt less obvious and you started to get much more of a feel for the course. My observations are that the par 3’s are strong throughout and offer a variety of challenges. The green sites across the whole course are particularly testing and could definitely be treacherous in peak summer conditions. There are also some wonderfully characterful holes that I found in the main, charming, even if you could consider a couple quirky and difficult to navigate on initial viewing. The run of 6-15 was thoroughly enjoyable with 13 being the standout for me. A 230 yard par 3 framed impeccably on all sides when viewed from the beautifully enclosed back tee box.
This tranquil and serene location is in such contrast to its urban surroundings and it is that contrast that makes it a special place. There is no doubt the intent is to improve the playing conditions and develop the grounds so that playing conditions remain high quality all year round. I am hopeful the plan in place will do just that.
Played the addington in June 2020, obviously there are issues with the fairways which are being sorted this winter but the rest of the course was in superb condition. Unlike previous reviews I think the addington has some great early holes, the 1st is vastly improved and is a good opening hole, the 2nd needs a redesign for me but 3,4 and 5 are excellent holes and the tree felling has made those holes even better. 8 and 9 are great holes but 10 is poor. 11 is a cheeky little hole but 12 needs a tee about 100 yards further back, being forced to hit an iron off a par 5 tee is just wrong. I love 13 but the back tee is too far back, 190 yards is as long as that hole needs to be. 14 is boring but 15 is a cracking par 4, long and tough to hit in 2. 16 is another par 5 which needs a new tee way back. 17 is a good par 3 and I really like the 18th, a classic style finishing hole. Looking forward to going back when the fairways are sorted.
The 10th is a great hole, but just not off the yellow tees, try the White Tee or better still, the 'Abercromby Tee', down and to the left of the yellows.....
The Addington is a decent course that is in need of some TLC. The greens are good, and were the fastest I played all year, but elsewhere the conditioning is poor. The good news is that a new irrigation system is being installed over the winter which should go a long way to improving matters.
The course has some fabulous views over London. There are some nice par 3s and several interesting holes with approach shots over quarries. However the par 5 13th is in desperate need of a rethink - it has the potential to be a good risk and return hole but at the moment it is pure pot luck. Given the plans in place for improvement I look forward to seeing how it plays in a couple of years’ time, with scope for an increased rating.
I won’t comment on the fairway condition as so many other reviews have, only than to say that yes the fairways are suffering, but it really did not bother us.
The greens I will talk about, they are fantastic, fast, true, subtle and a real delight to putt on. On the 3rd hole my playing partner, having just missed the green chipped on and we watched the ball roll down a slope that for the life of us we struggled to see.
The course has some okay holes and then, in my opinion some cracking holes. Genuinely, holes that anyone would enjoy playing. You start with the first 6 holes being ok, enjoyable but nothing to write home about. When you walk onto the 7th tee you start a great 3 hole run. The 7th is a cracker of a par3, the 8th is a really good hole with a great tee shot and then 9th is just a cracker, playing over a ravine with the drive and then again with the approach.
10 and 11 are nice holes, but 12 and 13 are a return to top form. Having read some reviews of 12 we both hit 5 iron which into the wind could have been a bit more club, then you have to play for position with your second shot and unfortunately with the rain we have had we both did this but our balls landed, plugged and we never saw them again. I made the call “a pro wouldn’t lose that” and we took drops in the rough area they vanished in where your third plays up hill to the green. You have to have played that hole or be lucky to have a chance. 13 is a great par3, short leaves a tough chip up the green, left is most likely lost (yes a pro would lose it there too) and right is a hard chip on. It needs length and accuracy.
14 and 15 are ok, I would put them in the same category as 1 through 6 and then 16 and 17 are great holes. 16 is a downhill par5 requiring a drive to the right place and then if you can go at the green in two you are hitting blind, with trouble all around the green. 17 is a lovely par3 over a ravine which needs a good hit with a medium to long iron. 18 is back with 1 through 6 and 14 and 15 but may I just say these are not bad holes, just not great holes.
Finally I must mention the bridges, it adds an element of theatre to course. We played on County Cards at £50 which was really good value for money.
"For some time, my wife's had this ridiculous idea that I'm playing too much golf. Actually, it came to a head at about 11.30 last night. She suddenly shouted at me: "Golf, golf, golf. All you ever think about is bloody golf!".
And I'll be honest, it frightened the life out of me. I mean, you don't expect to meet somebody on the 14th green at that time of night."
A jocular reminder of beloved comedian Ronnie Corbett who was a devotee of The Addington. His house, Fairways, backed on to the course and even when he wasn't playing, he emerged through bushes at the back of the second hole to walk his dog.
Five years after his death, the clubhouse is still adorned with photos of him and staff tell of his star-studded wake which took place there.
Corbett spoke with understandable fondness of the course which has a catalogue of memorable holes and stunning views over the city of London.
I was apprehensive about our visit because of the negative comments about its fairways. Our host told us about this winter's extensive irrigation work which should solve any problems but I have to report that, in any case, it was far from the mud heap which was being suggested.
Instead, my abiding memory was of superb greens, fascinating holes and rickety bridges over ravines.
There are so many excellent holes at The Addington - it is as if John Abercromby was trying to outdo himself as he was designing each one.
The Addington's qualities come to the fore on the 9th which requires an accurate tee shot over a heathery ravine. This is followed by a stroll over one of the club's famous bridges before a second to the green over another ravine and another bridge, I was pleased to have negotiated both but Mrs W wasn't so lucky.
However, she did birdie the picturesque short 11th after our tasty sausage sandwich stop in the halfway hut.
And then came the highlight of my day, the beautiful 'steps' hole - The Addington's 12th.
There are flights of heather after a blind drive for which our host insisted (and I mean insisted) that I take a long iron. I was sceptical, took him at his word and then saw how a driver would have put me in bother. This is the ultimate in placement holes. I followed the drive with a decent 5-iron strike, a splendid pitch and a six-foot putt for a bridie. I told our partner he should give up his day job and become a caddy.
He then correctly advised a camera for the gorgeous 13th - a par three which requires strength and accuracy. Fortunately, I found both but couldn't manage back-to-back birdies because this is the trickiest green on the course - a huge swirling affair which I was glad to escape with a par.
The hits keep coming - the 14th gives up amazing views of The Shard and Canary Wharf, the 16th is a wonderful risk and reward par five and the 17th is a very testing par three with the last of the aforementioned bridges.
Our day at The Addington was superb - aided by playing with a friendly and knowledgable member who pointed out that the owners have a five-year plan to bring the club back to the glories of its early days. It is pretty damned good now so I can't wait to see how it progresses.
Ronnie Corbett wrote in the club's centenary brochure that its 18 holes were a "real classic treat". We agreed.