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.”
The Addington is an interesting and quirky lay out, with something unusual right from the start, with the par 3 opener reminiscent of how a course such as Arrowtown in New Zealand starts. Another reason for its quirkiness is the amount of blind shots throughout!
The 6th is a strong par 4, with a ravine short of the green, and its followed by an innocuously hard par 3. On the back, the par 5 12th is a cracker, requiring players to lay up off the tee or face playing their 2nd in either heather or a lie that could be on humps or in hollows. The par 3 13th with a big carry is also a memorable hole.
All in all this course contains a lot of features that you wouldn’t really see on modern courses, which in my opinion makes it worth checking out. It’s also exciting to hear that Clayton, DeVries and Pont are going to be working on a renovation.
Was interested to learn that the new design firm of Clayton, DeVries and Pont will be working on renovating The Addington. Excited to see the result and hopefully the course could then live up to its elevated rating!
Fantastic news. It's a talented group. The Addington has a bright future.
Why leave this as a 2.5 ball review and bring down the average rating as a result? You have already left a review previously
This review is not considering conditioning. The fairway grass is pretty sparse right now. Any UK posters know why? It seems grass would grow well in the local climate. There were lots of buggies on the course. I know that doesn't help.
Over the past ten days I played nine highly rated English courses. The one that keeps popping back in my head is The Addington. Keep in mind it is not rated near any of the other courses. I only played this course because of Tom Doak's recommendation in his book. The Addington was designed by J.F. Abercromby - a Golden Age architect who only did about 5-6 courses. The Addington was his masterpiece, much like Pinehurst No. 2 for Donald Ross. Abercromby also designed a second 18 (The New Course) which sadly no longer exists. It was said to be flatter but just as high quality as the original. Can you imagine 36 quality holes at The Addington? It may have been another Sunningdale.
When you arrive at the course you will receive a warm greeting. It is pretty low key. You don't feel it's overly formal like some English clubs. To find the first hole you have to make your way around to the side of the clubhouse. It would be nicer if the patio were facing the 1st tee and 18th green. That's another story. The first five holes are good, but they are the appetizer for the main course. No. 1 is a pretty basic but strong par 3. No. 2 is a thinking man's par 5. You can have a realistic birdie chance but if you flirt with the trees forget it. The fairway slopes right to left and you can easily find yourself there. No. 3 plays 210 yards uphill from the back tees into the prevailing wind. Your 3 wood may not be enough on a cold day. A par is an excellent score. No. 4 & 5 are strong par fours that require your very best to make par. The greens on the opening five holes all slope down the hill. If you wrong side yourself use caution as putts are very fast. I should also mention that the greens were in excellent shape when I played - fast and true.
No. 6 is where the uniqueness of the course shows itself. Short right of the green is the deep P.G. Wodehouse bunker. It must be over ten feet deep. The hole itself is okay but the bunker is outstanding. I was able to drive the green from the yellow tees during wet conditions. Some say it would play better as a drivable par 4. I disagree as there would be many lost balls. No. 7 is an excellent short par 3 over heather. There are some unique trench like grass bunkers to the right of the green. No. 8 is a polarizing hole. Some say it is great while others say it is overdone. Personally I love the hole. Hitting your first and second shots gives one a pleasurable excitement. It is a true challenge to find the fairway from the tee. Once there most likely you have a long shot into a stiff breeze. Make a par and you will be smiling as you walk off the green. No. 9 is a unique par 4 as you have to cross two ravines to play the hole. I should note the bridges. There are I believe nine bridge crossings over ravines all together. I can't think of another course with so many. Skipping to No. 11. It is a testing short par 3 into the prevailing wind. I can almost assure you that work was done with the bunkering as everything around the green is in top shape.
No. 12 is the most polarizing hole on the course. It's a par 5 where you can only safely drive about 220 from the tee. From there the hole cascades down a big hill with heather and humps all the way down. The options are go for the green or lay up to a sliver of fairway. One can see how it's such a polarizing hole. On my second round I tried driver off the tee. I hit a strong and accurate drive right where I wanted and the ball was never found. You need to play it yourself to make a judgement. No. 13 is one of the most challenging par 3 holes anywhere. It's about 230 over a chasm with a left to right wind. A par there is an excellent score. It does feel claustrophobic on the hole. Vegetation should be chopped all around, especially at the front of the tee. It would greatly improve the hole No. 15 is a strong par 4 up the hill. You will need your best to par the hole. No. 16 is another polarizing par 5. It is a downhill roller coaster. What fun it is to see your ball bounding down the fairway. From there you have a realistic chance to go for the green. A lay up is not easy as the fairway is tiny where one would normally play short. 16 would be greatly improved with tree clearing. Compared to original photographs the hole is now much too claustrophobic. Heather instead of trees would also restore open feel, beauty, sunlight and wind. I should note that some tree clearing and heather restoration is underway, so the club must be of the same mindset. No. 17 plays back over the 16th green. Caution below! It is an excellent par 3 of nearly 200 yards over a large ravine. From there your challenge is not over as 18 is a strong 435 yard uphill par 4. The green is hard to hit and a par is a good score.
So why am I rating The Addington highly considering the conditioning is pretty bad? It's because after playing 7 of the top 10 in England the course I most enjoyed and look forward to playing again is The Addington. It's a roller coaster ride all the way around. As his masterpiece Abercromby gave this course great bones. Everything is still there. The routing is spectacular. I would gladly join this club if I were living in London. I can only imagine how good this course would be with an unlimited budget and Doak as the consulting architect. As it stands now it's very good with only conditioning being the weak point. I had a blast playing 36 at The Addington and look forward to playing it again in the future.
5 balls - September, 2019
We've had a good summer for conditioning courses this year with sun interspersed with occasional rain but many courses especially around the south are still suffering from summer 2018 where many places went 3 or 4 months without rain. Since most courses don't have fairway irrigation they got burnt out and as result many still have burnt out fairways at the end of 2019 since it was difficult to get grass to grow back.
Thanks for the information. Addington is a hell of a golf course and should be ranked higher in my opinion.
Have recently played here for the 2nd time and feel it requires a review to provide some balance to some of the more negative ones below....
I guess your enjoyment of a course like The Addington depends on what you look for in a round. Certainly you will not find a comfortable or old fashioned clubhouse steeped in history, nor will you find an immaculately maintained golf course (although the greens were the best I've putted on this year), and you may have the misfortune to get stuck behind a society. BUT, once you step onto the 6th tee particularly you will enjoy some of the most fun golf you will ever play anywhere. Yes, some of the holes are supremely quirky but they are also magnificent in their design and daring. The way the holes reveal themselves one after the other from 5 onwards is genuinely special.
A note on the conditioning which others have found poor. The greens as I've mentioned were very good. The fairways on the other hand had a number of bare patches and I think they are clearly struggling with some disease. But see beyond this if you can and go and play it for the design itself. It is also, at £65 for a visitor fee inside the M25, very very good value (unfortunately), and there are discounts available on that on various websites. There are much weaker courses all over London that routinely charge £50 a round.
I must admit I missed the boat on Addington. I am a big admirer of Tom Doak and he writes gushingly about the Addington. I found that the course went beyond being quirky and crossed over into being weird. The grass is very high, apparently cut only a couple of times a week. Some holes are too steep (like the first), some too narrow (like the fourth and fifteenth), and others don’t make sense from a golfing standpoint (like the blind 8th with a penal green). The holes over the ravines on the latter half of the course are good, but the place needs to be cleaned up and trees need be trimmed back to make it rank higher.
The Addington gets varied reviews these days and I can why. It has a big reputation and it’s relatively expensive, so it’s normal to visit with high hopes.
There was a mix up with my booking but thankfully as I’d requested an evening tee time they let me on. The practice putting green is one of the best I’ve played on, and there are new nets and mats allowing for a suitable warm up. I don’t mind the first hole, some people may not like a par 3 to start but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It has a small green with two tiers so it’s not easy.
I half-disagree with some people’s views saying that the first few holes are forgettable. They are solid, challenging and fairly scenic but it depends what you’re after – you don’t feel like you’re on a heathland course, and that dry, bouncy heathland turf is intermittent. Length, trees and fast greens are the main defence.
The 6th is where it gets more dramatic. I hit a woeful tee shot so tried to play safe and leave my ball short of the green on this short par 4. Except there’s a hidden pit short-right, including a bunker as deep as any I’ve seen. From this hole on it really felt like local knowledge or guidance would have helped - The Addington is a tough, penal course.
Perhaps I’m being harsh (or I’m merely a bad golfer) but a few holes felt a bit unfair. 8 is blind and has no marker, 9 is similarly hit and hope, 12’s blind but the fairway ends <200 yards, has nearly no lay up area, then 16 is another narrow par 5 with no bail out… It’s all picturesque however, especially the southern side of the course with its ravines, fir trees, bracken, a little heather, plus those quaint bridges you’ve likely seen photographed. It doesn’t feel like suburban London. Just don’t be greedy from the tee and try to take a map of some sort.
All 18 greens were in excellent condition, the tees were all decent but a few fairways were slightly shabby. I don’t mind that but for such a green fee you expect a bit more. I did admittedly have a discount, so all was forgiven but I’d feel dismayed if paying full whack. I’ve seen reports here and elsewhere of litter and rocks – I’m happy to report I had no such issues.
The final hole is so-so, again I’ve seen complaints but it’s definitely not bad. It does feel more woodland than heathy, though it does have some of that firm ground which makes chipping difficult. I guess it could all feel more ‘grand’, I’m not very well travelled but it feels like I’ve played better parkland and heathland layouts.
It’s largely memorable, it’s hard, the heath parts are aptly wild but I think The Addington’s prestige, price and ranking tarnishes views like mine. It is probably the best course in that corner of London/Surrey but try to avoid the full green fee if possible.
I was looking forward to playing the Addington and it was a slight disappointment as I was expecting it to be top quality looking at its position in the UK rankings. In my opinion it is lucky just to get in the top 100 in the UK and possibly even in England.
There were aspects about the Addington that I liked. One positive is that the bunkering on this course is excellent, the par 3 11th is a perfect example of the beautiful bunker display they have, into a small narrow green. In addition to this I thought the greens were of a good standard, they were true and pretty quick which made the round a lot more enjoyable.
Good holes that I really liked the look of would have to be the par 3 11th, a fantastic short par 3 with a small green to aim at and well protected by bunkers. Unfortunately on the day I played it was playing at least a 3 club wind, so despite it being a 145 yard hole, we still needed to hit a long iron to get there! Another great par 3 was the 13th hole, which is a staggering 230 yards from the back. An accurate tee shot is required as anything left would find you in the bunkers or bushes and anything right would leave you in the bunker or a downhill shot, making it very hard to get up and down. However my favourite hole would have to be the par 4 14th as it had possibly one of my favourite views. When standing up on the tee, it overlooks the entirety of central London and the aiming point is directly at the Shard with a little fade on it! The tee shot truly is spectacular and definitely one that you want to save in your memory.
Unfortunately there are a few negatives of this golf course which is why I think it is lucky to have the ranking that it has. Just in general, there are multiple holes at the Addington which simply I think aren't special and make the course look bang average, Holes 1-6 are standard and wouldn't look out of place at a 2/3 ball rated course. The first hole is simply the weirdest starting hole you may play as it just isn't really in the right place to be an opening hole. Admittedly holes 7-17 are great and make the course a lot better but the final hole goes back to the beginning and isn't up to standard like the middle section of the course.
All in all, The Addington is a decent course however I think its lucky to be ranked 35th in England compared to courses around it like West Hill and Hindhead which are levels above here. Nonetheless it is still a nice course in good condition and it was a fun round.
It’s late April, a glorious warm sunny Easter Monday bank holiday and the clubhouse was almost empty. This should have been a warning, the run-down clubhouse perhaps another warning, but I was there for golf not apres-golf. Once out on the course however, it became apparent that all is not well. The greens were bobbly and needed cutting, some were receptive and some rock hard. Some fairways were in such a poor state that you couldn’t differentiate it from the rough. The tees were bumpy, uncut and poorly maintained. We could see some bunker renovation work was ongoing, but the new turf hadn’t been adequately watered and looked to be dying. There was some evidence of tree clearing – a good sign but a huge amount more is needed. At this time of the year other courses are lush and green, but here the grass was patchy, overgrown and unkempt.
But I could see how this could be a decent course. After a solid but unspectacular start, the 6th is an interesting short par 4, with the green well protected by a ravine front right, and then 7-9 are stunning.
The 7th is an attractive short par 3 over a small ravine. The pin was at the front when we played, 126 yards away. My sweetly struck wedge looked good in the air, pitched a couple of feet from the flag and then bounced over the green. If I had landed the ball 3 or 4 yards shorter it still would have gone over the back, 7 or 8 yards shorter and it would have been in the ravine in front of the green. A nice hole spoilt by poor greens maintenance. At least I got up and down.
The 8th is a tough hole, a sharp dogleg left that requires you to hit a blind tee shot hugging the treeline on the left side as the fairway slopes off to the right. Too far left and the ball is lost in the trees, but my tee shot was too far right and the slope carried it 50 yards right of where it pitched. Short of the green, the hog’s back fairway drops off steeply on both sides, encouraging you to take the aerial route instead of running the ball in. A ravine filled with gorse awaits any approach that goes long or right of the green. I found the heart of the green with a hybrid from 250 yards (it’s a blind shot so don’t ask me how I did this), but my playing partner hit a perfect tee shot then couldn’t believe it when his sweet iron approach into the middle of the green rolled over the back to be lost forever. It’s a brutal hole.
The 9th is a spectacular hole, driving over a ravine off the tee and then another carry to get to the green. It’s a shame the trees obstruct the views. The same could be said of 13 – an intimidating 230 yard par 3 that could really benefit from a tree clearing programme to open up the views.
Before that comes the 12th, a real marmite hole. Whether you choose to lay up on this short par 5 or go for it, the outcome is reliant on luck more than successful execution of your strategy. For me, that’s just a rubbish design.
Overall, there are some great holes here, but also some average ones. It’s a really tight tree lined course that punishes you if you stray, and such a small margin for error probably explains why the SSS is 3 over the par of 69. But right now, this course doesn’t deserve to be in the top 100. I’d give it 4 balls for design, 1 or 2 for conditioning.
I’ve played The Addington a couple of times over the last 2 years and having worked through almost half of England’s Top 50, I just can’t understand how it’s ranked 35th.
I find it difficult to believe that this course remains in what is otherwise a well-regarded and accurate Top 100 list.
Not only is the quality of the course not up to scratch (slow and diseased greens, poor fairways, stones in bunkers, etc), but the layout and design is just very disappointing with some holes bland and others bordering on the absurd. Hole 12 (par 5) is an example where the fairway stops at about 220 but then has heather down the middle for about 130 yards. The Par 3 7th is arguably the only good hole.
To put it into perspective, it’s ranked ahead of The Berkshire and Southport and Ainsdale, which are far superior golf courses in many respects. It’s also only five places behind Worplesdon and there’s just no comparison.
The Addington is ok if you’re in the area and want a change from the norm, but there will no doubt be some very disappointed golfers travelling and paying pretty steep visitor fees based on its reputation in the Top 100 list.
Hopefully it’s reviewed and re-ranked accordingly this year.
When Henry Longhurst, one of those old writers from back in the day, suggested “with the possible exception of the 5th at Pine Valley, it’s the greatest one shot hole in inland golf”, he wasn’t actually talking about the Par 3 7th at The Addington, but the 13th.
Interesting how this course design in its entirety (i.e. not just the controversially fantastic/terrible 12th hole) seems to divide opinion
What an utter disappointment!!!
Having seeked out a decent course in the area to play, we came across what is meant to be a top 100 course in the UK.
Having played on a beautiful spring day (other courses in the area being in decent shape), the conditions were simply unacceptable. Fairways and rough were indistinguishable, bunkers littered with rocks and greens bumpy and slow. One wonders what they are doing with your very pricey £100 green fee when other courses in the area charge a fraction and are in much better condition!
The first 6 holes were downright forgettable. The poor condition doesn’t help either. Not taking into consideration the conditions, there are some better holes which follow. The par 3 7th plays over a gorge to a diagonal green sprinkled with bunkers. The par 4 9th is (although very short), a pretty dogleg with the second playing over a gorge into a lovely set green.
The Par 5 12th hole is one of the worst golf holes I have ever played! Talk about the opposite of risk/reward! Your drive needs to either be under 200 yards, or you need to hit and hope your ball isn’t caught by the heather which is sprinkled all the way downhill from 200-350 yards. It’s a blind tee shot so good luck picking a spot! I took driver and was lucky enough to not find the heather, which left me with a wedge 2nd into this stupid par 5. My playing partner played what we thought was a perfectly hit 5 iron straight down the middle which was lost in the heather - what a joke of a hole.
The par 3 13th is a lovely looking hole from the tee box - and a beast of a par 3, having played 230 yards from the back tees on the day! I read that this was ranked one the the best inland par 3 holes. I would have agreed had it not been so poorly maintained. Uneven tee box, bunkers without rakes with hundreds of pebbles and rocks and a green that public courses would have been embarrassed about!
Besides a couple of lovely tee shots with London as the backdrop, nothing to write home about as you finish up your round.
We were both left very deflated after having this course built up by others. The Addington definitely has potential and with a bit of TLC, could be a good day out. However even in tip top condition, I could think of many courses which deserve a top100 spot more than this track!
I played the Addington just a few weeks ago, and have to say our four ball was walking off the course saying pretty much the same thing. The conditioning of the course was as bad as I've seen on any golf course let alone one ranked firmly inside the top 100 of the UK.
Some of the fairway bunkers I saw were littered with large stones, there were leaves from the autumn still obscuring much of the first few cuts of rough, fairways were as long as rough in some places too. Greens not good, and even if given a pass due to treatment recovery; the rest was so woefully bad and in need of serious TLC.
Shame because the course clearly has potential and a fairly lauded past, but how they can even open the course and charge people in the state I saw it is beyond me.
This seems to be an ongoing theme with The Addington. The course was in very poor condition when I was there at this time last year and this latest review does not indicate any improvement. Other reviews also report lots of litter on the course. Agreed that the course has lots of potential, but some vast improvement in course maintenance is needed if the course wants to maintain top 100 UK status or these negative reviews are just going to continue. Let’s hope the club starts to pay attention.