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.”
Talk about an inauspicious start – a fairly tatty uphill par 3. The sweeping second might have been a better option as an opener, but in truth none of the plain sailing opening 4 or 5 holes left much of an impression on us. The Addington gets off on the wrong foot. We’d played Cuddington earlier in the day, and so far that was the better course. It was April and course conditioning was also poor. There was also a fair bit of litter around the course, either wind blown in or left on site. If you’re going to be a low IQ parkland, you could at least be a pretty one, I muttered to myself.
However, this all turned out to be a calm before the perfect storm. Or one of those romantic comedies where the nerdy/bullied heroine puts on a dash of makeup and isn’t quite so bad after all, or that moment when Jerry Lewis’s Nutty Professor drinks one of his own concoctions. Anyway, a great big pit next to the 6th green (quite understandable how anyone could take up residence there) with a walkway across to the 7th teeing area, signaled the change. From here on The Addington is thrilling, challenging, and idiosyncratic in equal measure. Mercurial even. The rest of the round blew by in a variety rich maelstrom of pleasure ‘twixt with pain, until, out of breath, you reach the calm waters of the 18th. This closer brings to mind again the mundane opening few holes.
There are several highlights here and it is difficult to single one out. 12 & 13 was a great Par 5-3 combo, but so was 16 & 17. There were many challenging and exciting shots required. Some nice views of London too on the back 9, and in summer the course must see the odd purple patch. The Addington is pretty rough around the edges and has a slow start, but for a large part it is also brilliant golf and must be one of the better options within the M25.
We played the Addington late last August and unfortunately for us this coincided with a late summer storm that rolled in that day. We had the full Galvins on and were still cold and battered by the elements at the end. It is hard to know whether the conditions impacted my view of the course, but I do still think it's a tough course.
The first starts off with a tricky par 3 up a steep slope to a green protected by a big bunker on the right. I agree with other reviewers who have said that the course could do with some tree removal and even the first would be more aesthetically pleasing if this was implemented.
The 7th is a nice little par 3. The 8th is a tricky par 4 where the approach to the green is deceptively difficult to get the club selection right. Visually the fairway narrows as it approaches the green with trouble on both sides. The 9th is a really good hole and very intimidating from the tee. It looks like there's only a slither of fairway beyond the gaping ravine in front of you. Once you've made it to the safety of the fairway, the approach is over another ravine with a cool bridge to the right hand side allowing you to walk to the green. The green and surrounding area look like a huge target to hit but club selection is key to taking advantage of a solid tee shot.
The 11th is a short par 3 but squeaky tee shot as the green is pretty much surrounded by bunkers. We had some fun playing this hole! Plenty of chirping on the tee.
The 12th hole will be the major talking point of the whole round. The Marmite hole. The one people either love or loathe. I personally like the hole but came away very frustrated that I didn't utilise my golfing brain after hitting the perfect tee shot. This par 5 is downward sloping from the tee and doglegs to the left. After about 215 yards from the tee, the fairways slopes dramatically downwards into a mixture of short grass, heather and general trouble. There are patches of fairway interspersed with more trouble between you and the green where everything then slopes back up to a slightly raised green with trees either side. If you've hit a good tee shot the conundrum is whether to hit a long second through the eye of a needle to the green on a par 5, or try and find a patch of fairway with a short iron and then hit another short iron into the green. Although I made a hash of it, I liked the hole but feel there could be a slight concession on having a bit more open ground for a lay up.
After coming off the 12th there's no respite with a 220 yard par 3 which we played into a force 6 wind and rain. The green is a thin target for that length of hole and there is a big bunker to the right hand side of the green and two bunkers to the left at the bottom of a fair drop off. The green slopes from back to front and slightly to the left so it is a very difficult hole. We struck firm 3 woods from the tee that day which was the right club. Whilst it is a difficult hole, it is a cracker to look at from the tee and you have to be all in when you swing!
The 16th is a nice par 5 which requires your second and approach shots to stay on the left hand side, particularly as there's practically a ravine on the right hand side of the green. The 17th is a pretty par 3 with heather, a ravine, a big bunker and an old fashioned bridge leading up to the green, and is a stiff test at about 180 yards, particularly in the conditions we played. Finding the dancefloor gave me a huge adrenaline boost and a feeling that only golfers can empathise with.
The final hole is a quality par 4 that slightly doglegs to the left. You need to avoid a strategically placed fairway bunker and then ideally keep your approach on the right hand side of the green.
I found The Addington to be an excellent course not far from central London and there's a couple of great country pubs nearby to have a post round lunch. In terms of playing a course for the first time and not knowing the lay of the land, it is one of the most difficult that I've played. Due to the long, hot summer, the fairways were patchy but so were all of the other courses we played that week. The greens were very good and ran pretty quickly.
Having just played the Addington in September 2018 I cannot believe that this makes the top 100 golf courses in England the condition of the fairways even though we have had a dry summer was horrendous the path‘s were shabby to say the least maybe 1 or 2 beautiful looking holes however no better then a public golf course will not be going back there.
I'm very suspicious about this review from a first time reviewer who talks as much about the state of the paths as the course. Many clubs are still suffering from issues with their fairways following the long hot summer. a 1-ball rating for The Addington is simply wrong. I'm now ignoring this review.
Anybody reading this review should ignore it. The Addington is one of England's classic golf courses, and this reviewer should focus on reviewing driving ranges.
Greens were in great shape when we played -running at a good smooth pace. Fairways probably could be a little better-couldn't always pick out 1st from the 2nd cut. Maybe because it was just early in the season. Overall we found it a really interesting course with some challenging holes.
This review is provided whilst ignoring the poor conditioning (shocking winter / spring) and based on aesthetics, design, shot making etc. In my view, the Addington is placed correctly in the rankings as it is a notch below the best in Surrey. In saying this however, it does have a world class hole (the 11th) which may not be everyone's choice. This is a wedge distance par 3 which is absolutely stunning (beautiful heather and bunker complex). It defines what a short par 3 should be in terms of design (narrow, well guarded green which has enough depth in order to provide different pin positions). I generally like quirky but am still undecided on the par 5, 12th. Although it is a short par 5 which by definition requires protection, I'm not convinced of the protection. The fairway runs out at about 250 of the tips where it drops severely downhill through gorse, heather and humps and hollows where balls can be lost - as such there no benefit of taking driver off the tee. So, a lay up at say 230 off the tee still leaves 260 which is a lay up for mortals. The green is tucked away on the left and is heavily protected, and there is a meagre area for a successful lay up. It could be argued that the optimum play may well have been 2 wedges from the top of the hill, which just seems wrong. Maybe this is the genius of the hole in that despite it being only 490 from the tips, it is a genuine 3 shotter. Genius or not,those golfers who hit the ball 180 off the tee will need to hit it another 170 to clear the heather etc, which is a very tough, and in my opinion, too penal an examination paper. In contrast, the par 5, 16th enables even medium hitters to have a go in 2, if they can leverage the slopes on the fairway towards the green. I "get" the brutal 230 yard par 3 which plays 15 yards shorter with the elevation change however it perhaps needs some tree pruning as it has a distinct claustrophobic feel, which is unnecessary for a hole of that length and severity (challenging green complex). Other notable holes are the 4th and 5th holes (strong par 4s), the par 4, 9th which features one of the iconic wooden bridges which connect the two areas of fairway and the 18th (430 yard par 4). In addition, the par 3s provided good variation (wedge to 3 wood).
In summary, a very enjoyable course which feature some memorable holes
Probably the most accurate review of this course on the site!
Yes an excellent summary. This is a very enjoyable course to play and is good fun for the mid handicappers as well as the low. It has some wonderful views into the centre of London also.
The 11th has had an extensive overhaul this Spring . Bunkers reshaped ,New sand and re-turfed all around . Stunning !!!
Having previously read several reviews below lavishing high praise on the course before playing here, I had to question whether I’d stepped onto the wrong course after playing the first five or six holes at The Addington. Firstly, I must caveat my review by saying that I played the course just last week following some of the worst early Spring weather in my living memory. All courses in the region are suffering, but even taking that into account the standard of course conditioning at The Addington is well below the accepted levels that I’d expect of any course listed on this website, let alone one listed within one of the top 100 courses of GB & Ireland.
Whilst the course conditions in general weren’t great, the greens were just awful. Most were extremely soggy and squidgy with a wet layer of thatch, so considerable that the putting surfaces moved quite heavily around your feet when you stepped upon them. I’ve never seen anything this extreme before. Surely this is a sign of poor green construction or maintenance rather than weather conditions alone? I played the Addington at the end of a week-long golf tour and none of the other courses performed anywhere near as poorly as this. To add to this, the opening few holes are bland, mediocre at best. Maybe when the leaves grow back onto the trees, they’ll provide some much needed framing to the holes?
Ok, so rant over and onto the 7th and some signs of improvement. A lovely little par three with a short iron into a bowl shaped green being the first hole that provided architectural merit. Something I’m happy to report that continued for the rest of the round. The 8th was a blind dogleg par four that provides a double blind shot for all but the longest of hitters and reminded me of the 7th at West Sussex. The 9th then has the most dramatic of the handful of rickety wooden bridges that grace the course, a beautiful design feature that provides some of the most memorable and photogenic features of The Addington. I also enjoyed the hole that whilst only 377 yards doesn’t allow you to hit your tee shot anything in excess of 210 yards due to the deep heather lined ravine that bisects the fairway leaving no less than a mid iron into the green.
The 12th is the first of two dramatic par 5s. Playing blind and downhill to a hollowed out fairway whilst the second shot back up to the green on the other side of the valley requires you to take on heathery mounds and hollows that are dotted here and there up the hill. Whilst I loved this hole, my one criticism was there appeared to be only a slither of fairway to the right of the trouble which doesn’t allow much bail out for those not going for the green in two. Much has also been made of the dramatic long par three 13th and the following par four that provides views of the London skyline, so I won’t go into any description here, but less is made of the second dramatic par five, the 16th and its adjacent par three. The 16th follows a similar pattern to the 12th. A fantastic double dogleg hole where dramatic elevation changes leave a second shot, should you wish to take on the green, with a long club where the ball will inevitably be sitting above your feet to a green you’d ideally want to fade the ball into due to the sharp drop-off should you miss to the right of the green. Great design here that can severely punish the better player who wants to attack the green whilst leaving a simple layup shot to those who want to take the safer par option. 17 crosses back across the previous green and that ravine to the right of that hole with the last of those wonderful rickety bridges allowing you to cross to the safe land of the green.
Whilst I’m trying my best to write a balanced review, I just can’t get over the poor conditioning. Parts of this course, mainly in the latter part of round are wonderful and are a complete contradiction to its urban London location. If I came back here in Summer after a few months of growth and hopefully some dryer weather allowing the turf to get some condition back, I’m sure I would have enjoyed the course’s beauty to the fullest. Since I can imagine what the course would be like in Summer, I’m giving The Addington a four-ball rating. However, for the course to merit its current lofty ranking it needs to be playable for much more than just a few months. Some much needed improvement work and heavy investment needs to be done for the course to achieve that.
As a member speaking, please come back in the summer, the week before you would have played we had the tining of the greens and tons of top soil had gone down to ensure they recovered after our terrible winter, which would have made the ground a bit "spongy" as you said. Investment is going into the course with the tree-removal scheme making holes like the 4th & the 5th a lot better; the approach to the 8th green is now fantastic with the exposed pines meaning you can see through to the 9th and 10th fairways.
I may be coming across defensive of my home course but having played other courses in the area at the same time, most others were very boggy and almost unplayable - again the bad conditions played their part but due to the drainage here the Addington definitely holds its own in regards to playability during the winter.
I would agree that I can't see much further improvement in our ranking unfortunately even with the improvements being done but for a course 10 miles from the centre of London, you can't really get much better for the location!
I played The Addington for the first time in the summer of 2017 (in a 36 hole event) and given the course’s rating in the English rankings on this site I was very excited to play it. If it is in and around West Hill, The Berkshire - Blue and Walton Heath - New to name a few then it must be pretty good, or so I thought.
Firstly, I didn’t play well, though I’d like to think that doesn’t govern my feelings (I played worse at Victoria GC in Melbourne earlier in the year and that has to be up there with the best courses I’ve played), but, in all honesty, I thought it was hugely overrated and very very average. Granted some decent holes (3, 4, 9, 13) but also the worst set of par 5’s I’ve ever played (2, 11 & 16), very poor conditioning - slow spongy greens, poor bunkers, slow fairways, and stones everywhere. There was limited definition to the holes in terms of grass cutting and it seems the trees are way too overgrown. If the view from the 14th tee is the only stand out, then I think that says everything.
I’m lucky enough to be a member of Coombe Hill, another Abercromby course, and whilst it could be argued it has a couple of ‘lesser’ holes, it is on a different level in every way to The Addington, especially comparing condition in the height of summer.
If this review sounds slightly harsh then I think this all comes down to expectations, if it was ranked 100th then I’d have no complaints, in fact I wouldn’t have probably played, but to be higher than Coombe Hill, and for example, Moortown (great course, reminded me of the West at Royal Melbourne in some ways and closely comparable to its close neighbor, The Alwoodley) I think is a travesty.
It seems apparent that The Addington put a lot of effort into their ranking (the pro was very quick to point out how highly it was ranked pre round) and I feel that’s the only reason why it could be so high, say things often enough and people will start to believe it. But, the great thing about these ratings is opinion, and I know many have a very different one to me on this subject.
I smell a rat. A 2 ball review (poor) from a first time reviewer on this site who is a member of a nearby club. I do agree with a few comments. Greens could be firmer and there are too many trees but no way is The Addington a poor course. I simply cannot agree with the rating.
No rat to smell, the fact both courses were designed by the same person made it relevant, and going on the rating process set on this site I thought it was poor. On the same token I would rate Coombe Hill a 4.75. It isn’t a 6 (World class top 100) and probably just below the best in the region. It was fair in my opinion. With the new rankings recently I though it was about time I put my opinion on record.
Come on, of all you've written you can't say that the 16th is part of "one of the worst par 5s I've ever played" - the back 9 has some of the best holes I've played, in fact it's probably the most complete back 9 I've played (I am not as lucky to have played many great courses)
I actually agree that the course does go on about its ranking (I am a member here and I receive quite a few emails each year to say where we are in the rankings), but feel it is definitely a good if not great course and deserves better than a 2 ball rating given by the reviewer here.
I worked out that it was almost 10 years since I last teed it up at the Addington and to be honest I'd forgotten just how good this course is. The conditioning of the fairways is not as consistent as most of the other big name Surrey heathland courses, not helped by a very thin layer of topsoil and a lack of fairway watering, but thankfully steps are in place to rectify this situation along with a badly needed tree clearance programme.
The course gets off to a solid and rather unusual start with both the first and third holes being uphill par-3's. Both are good but along with the other early holes, unspectacular. On the approach to the 6th green there is sign of things to come with a vicious bunker set into a large pit complete with a flight of steps to access it, we also get our first look at the attractive wooden trestle bridges which save us from some hard walking through a number of heather clad valleys.
This is where the course really comes to life with one great hole following another. The 7th is a delightful short par-3 played down over a heathery bank and the 8th is an excellent downhill dogleg left where an accurate approach is vital. The brilliant dogleg 9th requires two bridge crossings as both the drive and approach are played over the aforementioned valleys, the 11th is a pretty little 120 yard par-3 to a small green ringed by bunkers and the 12th, a quirky but fun short par-5, tumbles downhill towards a terraced fairway and banks of heather clad mounds before rising up to an inviting green.
The 13th is simply unforgettable, requiring a shot of around 215 yards from a high tee to a majestic green perched on sloping ground between bunkers. I honestly can't think of any inland par-3 that I prefer. The great holes just keep coming with the rolling 16th providing a bit of a dilemma for most. A good drive offers the choice of laying up or trying to get home in two on this rolling par-5 but a narrowing fairway and ledge green steeply falling away to the right means that anything offline risks being lost in the trees or undergrowth.
There are certainly a handful of heathland courses in Surrey that I would rank higher but very few places excite me as much as the Addington does on so many shots. What a shame that Abercromby's second course disappeared for housing after the 2nd World War. Playing thirty six holes in a day over both courses must have been something very special indeed. Brian W
Would they have the option to change the routing here? Really disliked the opening Par 3, would have preferred it if the 2nd was the opening hole. Also played it in quite a rough state in April 2016 as they were doing some work on the course. Added to the litter around the place (perhaps it was windy) it felt like a pretty standard parkland track. How was the conditioning when you played?
As you mention, at around the 6th the course "wakes up" and is excellent from there on in, with plenty of memorable and idiosyncratic holes.Lots of fun and shots you're not faced with every day.
Will next have to play it in late summer when there is some heather about!
I'm sure they could re-route the course if there was the desire to do so but I would guess that the club wishes to retain the original Abercromby routing, even if it isn't perfect. It was generally in good condition when I played it but the fairways were a little patchy. Definitely plays as heathland not parkland but more tree clearing wouldn't go amiss.
I was able to play The Addington during a recent trip to the Southwest of London. My goal was to fill in my resume by playing as many top heathland courses as possible. My brave wife Ruth accompanied me on this golfing adventure and on this day we were able to meet up with top 100 editor in chief Keith Baxter and editor Jim McCann.
It was a very warm day, so warm that I ventured out in shorts. The course was extremely dry from the weather this summer so that the course played extremely hard and fast. Given the rolling terrain that this course is laid out on and the twists and turns of the holes The Addington demanded your best to place the ball in play and in proper position.
The first is a rather average par 3, but the difficulty ramps up at the dogleg right par 5 second, the uphill par 3 third, and the very difficult par 4 fourth, where the trees pinch about 100 yards short of the green blocking off the approach unless it has been perfectly placed on the left side of the fairway.
The course really begins to take off around 6 . To the right of the green lies the only greenside bunker I've ever encountered that has a bridge over it! I would estimate that the bunker is 5 to 7 yards deep and I'm not sure I could get out if I got in. From 6 on the course just continues to build in character. 8 is a marvelous dogleg left with a semi blind tee shot. 9 is a great par 4 as well. The drive is hit up hill and then the hole turns left to hit to an upside down bowl of a green that must be approached over an ocean of heather. 12 is a unique hole that no modern architect would design today. As others have described it is downhill to a terrace and then back uphill over a rugged expanse of heather and fescue. I somehow negotiated the terrace in the middle of the fairway was able to hit the green in two but I'm not sure I would have the nerve to try that in a medal competition. 13 is probably the "signature" hole here, and it's simply a matter of bashing a shot 230 yards on to green with trouble right and a severe slope left. No problem there.
14 and 16 are fine holes which offer beautiful views of downtown London off the tee.
The Addington is a tough test of golf but great fun to play. The course is laid out over some rough and tumbling terrain that architect J.H. Abercromby used to great advantage and is a textbook case of how to design a course around the natural contours of the land. The course is 6300 yards from the white tees, but par 69 is a tough score. My wife Ruth is a relative beginner, but she enjoyed the course. The greens are all designed to allow a run up shot and she was soon figuring out that her 100 yard carry with her 4 hybrid could often negotiate over 150 yards on the dry rolling terrain. This course is a very solid 5 ball course. I agree with Keith that more tree clearing would only improve the aesthetics and playability of the course. A great test that I think golfers of all levels would enjoy. Read my story: Diamonds of the heather - golfing London's heathland
I certainly enjoyed The Addington when I teed it up here alongside Jim (and Richard & Ruth Smith) on a scorching hot Sunday afternoon earlier this month. I was amazed at how browned off some of the fairways were and I feared they were on the verge of being lost after such a long, dry and very hot spell of weather (thankfully the rain came soon afterwards). The greens on the other hand were lush and rather too soft and spongy for my liking, but that’s a minor quibble because I think The Addington is an inspirational treasure in the heart of South London’s uninspiring and incredibly busy suburbia.
By some distance this heavily doglegged course was the toughest challenge we encountered while Jim and I were on a whistle stop six-course Surrey tour. The fiery hard and fast fairways made the course shorter but by no means easier. If the greens had been a tad firmer it would have been a scary golfing test. In places the tumbling topography is genuinely stirring and, as Jim has already mentioned, the bridges are The Addington’s trademarks and I made a point of using each and every one.
The opening five holes failed to get my golfing juices flowing. Even the much-lauded 4th didn’t stir my golfing soul (despite being a strong two shotter). But then, bang! You encounter the ravine on the right of the approach to #6. I couldn’t help but think that the bunker set menacingly in the depths of the ravine was a tad too cruel. I’ve never seen anything like it before and I doubt I ever will again. From here on in, The Addington just gets more and more interesting.
The 7th is a drop dead gorgeous short hole and the 9th is nerve jangler from the tee and also for the approach. Actually, there are far too many good holes to mention but the short par five 12th is a conundrum – why would anyone bench steps into the hillside midway down the hole? We pondered this and came to a conclusion, thinking that maybe it was once played as a short par four from the terraced area adjacent to the steps.
Having referred the puzzle to Darwin, our theory was quickly proven to be wrong and perhaps a little bit right, “the twelfth, though very nearly the most magnificent hole in creation, has blemishes. If you an place your tee shot on the small plateau built to receive it, then there is no shot in the world having a more glorious zest and relish than the second across the big valley to the narrow green with the background of fir trees. But that plateau is small and on either side of it and beyond it are lies something too sloping and the element of luck plays too great a part. Nature has tantalized the architect by dangling before him the prospect of one of the great two-shot holes and then leaving him in the lurch with a hole that is only great fun.”
Presumably, back in Darwin’s day, #12 was played as a par four. I cannot imagine how difficult this hole would have been as a two-shotter one hundred years ago.
There are still rather too many trees that are preventing the course from reaching its full potential. The tough 220-yard par three 13th is an example where the beauty (and daunt) of the greensite is shrouded by foliage. A tree-clearing programme is being undertaken (especially evident at the 9th) but there’s still a way to go.
The Shard London Bridge is the line for the tee shot on the short par four 14th.and I’ll bet there are not too many golf holes in the capital where you can say that!
Abercromby certainly created something very special and daring here at The Addington, but despite the drama (and some world-class golf holes), I personally find his collaboration with Willie Park Junior at Worplesdon more agreeable. However once the Croydon tree-clearing programme has completed, who knows? All bets are off.