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.”
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.
This is a course which always comes highly rated, holes are very interesting, fantastic views across london. 4 of us played on the day before club champs and the greens were absolutely perfect. Greens are tough but run true and the subtle slopes and borrows make them a great challenge. Unfortunately the fairways are terrible, it’s winter rules which helps but fairway conditions alone do not justify the £80 green fee. If the greens had been ‘green’ and had grass on them then this would be a fantastic course. There are always comments about how tough it is to keep the ball on the fairways due to the geography of the course but this is made even more difficult with the poor condition at present. Shame as this was a course we were really looking forward to. Not saying we won’t go back but will def check first before travelling.
Really disappointed having driven 3 hours to play this course this week. They have clear lost the fairways some time ago, meaning any shots that are on the fairway are played off barren ground or in our case after a heavy downpour throughout the day, mud.
Undeniably some good holes on this interesting layout, but In no way can this be considered a top 100 course due to the poor condition of the course
I know I wrote a review merely two months ago for this course, but I have to say it had been a while since I had played the Addington. I actually played it earlier today with a mate, and I have to disagree with the review below. The course is in very acceptable condition, fairways maybe a bit patchy in places but the rest is magnificent, with incredible greens.
I feel people are a bit harsh when talking about the conditioning of the course. Some of it is not within the control of the club, as the boiling summers have destroyed many fairways and reduced them to dirt. At the moment it was actually pretty good.
Anyway, back to the review. The layout is fantastic and interesting, with many beautiful and memorable holes. Even the 'lesser' front nine has many a good hole. The 4th, for example, is a magnificent par four with a beautiful drive that reminded me a bit of Wentworth's setting (no, I haven't played there, I went to watch the BMW). I love the 7th, which is my favourite par three in the world. And when the rhododendrons are in bloom, the 13th might be the best par three over 200 yards in the UK!
All in all, you have to visit the Addington at least once. I hope my comments could spark some positivity for this course. I think it should be in the top 30 in England at least. If conditioning improves just a little, it will definitely get there. Seriously, what a golf course!
Firstly let me say that there is certainly a great layout at The Addington, with some interesting holes and great views of London. I'm not a fan of Par 3 opening holes and agree with others when they say the course would be better suited to having the 2nd as the opening hole.
What I can't get over is the terrible condition of virtually every fairway on the course, potentially the worst I've every played on. We were warned prior to playing that there was placing on the fairway (not something I've ever experienced in August), so we knew to expect less than perfect conditions, but none of us expected it to be that bad! Having played 34 of the England Top 100, this was by far the worst conditioned course by a country mile, and at times It was a struggle to find a patch of grass to place the ball on.
This could be a great golf course, but reading the reviews it would appear it's been in a poor state for a few years now (which would explain its fall in the rankings) and my concern is that it'll take a few years to repair the damage.
In my opinion there are courses outside the Top 100 that could easily replace The Addington (Enville, Gog Magog, Ross on Wye, Sutton Coldfield) as I don't believe a course in such bad condition is worthy of a place in this list.
Such a shame we didn't play it 10 years ago when it was at its best.
Having read the varying recent reviews I'm glad to say we loved The Addington, although very tired after carrying clubs and being used to seaside golf.
Some of the fairways have clearly struggled with the recent hot dry Summers, a hazard of heathland courses, but they had preferred lies so no great loss.
Very friendly welcome from the excellent staff, and good COVID management.
The course itself starts slowly but from the 7th onwards (beautiful natural dell green) the golf is brilliant.
Reminds me in places of Sunningdale Old, Crowborough and Hindhead - ie sporting, traditional golf with lots of elevation changes.
If the conditioning was right it would be a five ball course.