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.”
A little pocket of tranquility in the midst of the hustle and bustle of South London. Super track with funky greens that require some serious green-reading skills. Standout holes were 6 and 9 on the front and the par 3's 13 & 17 on the back. Lots of variety throughout, the Addington is another of Abercromby's brilliant designs. Loved the rickety, old wooden bridges that link you from some fairways to greens and greens to tees, charming place well worth a visit. MV
What a stunning course. Played it today for the first time in some challenging wind. Greens were superb and me and my playing partner left talking about coming back for more so clearly a hit. Not the easiest course but great for course management.
They don’t make them like the Addington any more. Ravines, bridges, bunkers, blind shots, uphill and downhill shots, narrow fairways, Wide fairways, some heather (but probably less than there once was), plenty of trees.
I went round as a member’s guest, off what were marked as white tees, but in practice were about yellow yardage. I played well, managing to be one under par net. I say this to let you be the judge whether the review is a product of a happy glow or because it is real. I like to think it’s real, but accept it may not be.
As has been said 1 to 5 are not especially exciting. 6 to 17 certainly are. The sense of satisfaction at getting over both ravines on 9, the joy of getting the right club and plopping it onto the green on 6 and 10. The sheer joy of my 3 wood shot of the year so far soaring out over the 13th to be followed by the disappointment of a weak three put.
It’s a lovely course. The greens are great, the fairways less so. The heather is not as pure as say, New Zealand or the Berkshire, but it is there for real, and hopefully will become more prevalent and maintained well especially if the bracken can be cut down and the emergent trees removed. It’s also lovely as a way of seeing how an architect could walk round and visualise how to design a course which does not require earth to be moved.
And finally, while it may sound sacrilegious, if I was making the perfect course out of the Addington Hills I’d ditch 1 to 5 and 18 and join the remaining 12 with 6 of the more heathery and hilly holes from the neighbouring Addington Palace and shove my clubhouse somewhere on Bishop’s Walk. Anyone got a few million pounds to spare?
The Addington is a beautiful heathland that is my favourite course of all time (as of 12th June). I do not take conditioning too seriously with this course as the holes make up for it. It has fallen down heavily in the Top 100 England in both this website's ranking and in Golf World's, but I feel like that is unfair. The course is magnificent and beautifully framed by tall pines and heather.
1 - an okay par three of 155/145/135 up the hill to a small two-tier green. There is nothing too special about this hole.
2 - a good par five of 560/545/470 on a slightly slanted fairway. The green is slightly sunken from the fairway. I thought this was a good par five, but there are two better par fives to come.
3 - a brutal par three of 210/185/170 up a steep hill with deep bunkers short of the green. It is similar to the first. An okay hole.
4 - a great par four of 440/425/410 with a wide landing area that narrows as you get closer to the green. Worthy of the S.I. 1 and a great hole indeed.
5 - a fine par four of 435/425/375 uphill and framed nicely by tall trees. Not too special, but this is an okay hole.
6 - a good par four of 375/335/330 with a dogleg to the left. The big feature of this hole is the enormous bunker on the right of the green.
7 - a beautiful par three of 150/140/120 downhill over a huge hillside of heather to a slim green in the valley. For me, this is one of the best golf holes I have ever played.
8 - a tough par four of 415/400/385 that has a slightly awkward blind drive and a downhill approach. I felt the hole would be better if the tee box pointed further to the left.
9 - a brilliant yet quirky par four of 375/360/340 that plays over a ravine twice. The tee shot is more daunting as it requires more accuracy, whereas the approach is a little wider.
10 - a good uphill par four of 390/345/310 where you drive over anywhere between 100 and 200 yards of rough ground to the fairly generous landing area. A nice hole.
11 - a classic par three with a slender green almost encircled by bunkers. Suffers a little as I think there are three better par 3s on the course, but a wonderful hole that really belongs on a course of this status.
12 - the "Marmite" hole, a par five of 485/440/405 with a downhill drive to a multi levelled fairway. I don't know why people criticise the hole, I love it myself. The definition of risk and reward, in my opinion.
13 - a beautiful par three of 230/215/190 that plays on a hillside to a wonderfully positioned green. Not the most perfect par three on the course (the seventh), but a world class hole nonetheless.
14 - a nice par four of 360/340/295 with lovely views over London. I have a feeling that a tour pro could drive the green if the fairways were fast. A good hole.
15 - a sturdy par four of 435/420/370 playing severely uphill to the green. The approach is similar to that of the first. Definitely worthy of S.I. 2.
16 - a lovely and bouncy par five of 515/500/450 that has some slightly strange undulating as you near the green. Not the best par five, but cascades beautifully through the trees.
17 - a gorgeous par three of 195/175/165 over a beautiful ravine of heather to a well sited green. Tougher than at least three of the six par threes here, and a wonderful golf hole.
18 - a par four of 435/425/415 that is tough and has multiple bunkers. Unfortunately, this hole underwhelmed slightly and was the only disappointment on this magnificent course.
Overall, the Addington is well worthy of the top 30 where it should be situated. It is cheaper than a lot of other courses of this calibre, and definitely worthy of the five balls shown here. A must play, although it was difficult for me (as a junior who only hits it 160 yards off the tee)!
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.