Chart Hills - Kent - England

Chart Hills Golf Club,
Weeks Lane,
Biddenden,
Kent,
TN27 8JX,
England


  • +44 (0)1580 292222

  • Golf Club Website

  • M25, then M20, turn off at Leeds Castle

  • Welcome 7 days. After 1pm Mon,Wed,Sat,Sun. Before 1pm Fri.

  • James Cornish

  • Nick Faldo, Steve Smyers

  • Nick Olson

Chart Hills Golf Club is set in the peaceful rural heart of the Garden of England where old oak trees stand guard and where there is sand, lots and lots of sand.

This is Nick Faldo’s first European design and the discerning American designer, Steve Smyers, supported him, opening for play in 1993. They have created a big and attractive golf course with acres of water and sand to trip up the very best golfers, or as Steve Smyers said: “You feel a great course; it thrills you and sometimes frightens you. But in the end, it will challenge the best in you.”

Despite the English rural location, Chart Hills feels like a commercial American golf and country club complex. The service is first class – they are geared towards corporate and society golf and naturally, it has mandatory buggy paths weaving their way along each of the holes.

The design is bold and uses the natural contours of the land to good effect. The fairways twist and turn in every conceivable direction, heading towards the huge and frighteningly undulating greens. The bunkering is daring in the extreme, extravagant and exceptionally varied, ranging from small deep pot bunkers to the huge serpent-like “Anaconda” bunker on the par five 5th that wiggles along for more than 200 yards. Water hazards feature extensively at Chart Hills. These, too, come in all shapes and sizes and are frequently in play, especially on the short par three 17th where the green is an island.

A round of golf at Chart Hills is a memorable experience and the variety of the holes will keep you thoroughly entertained from your first drive to your last putt.

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Reviews for Chart Hills

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Description: Chart Hills Golf Club is set in the peaceful rural heart of the Garden of England where old oak trees stand guard and where there is sand, lots and lots of sand. Rating: 6.8 out of 10 Reviews: 28
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tobias dent

Such a shame to see a course with so much potential and a great design to be missing one of the most important parts of a golf course. THE FAIRWAYS ARE WOFUL, a complete lack of grass just thick squelching wet mud. Disgusting. Imagine Nick Faldos face if he could see the state of it now. Like I said great lay out but a lack of funding and a banning of pesticides has lead to grubs eating the fairways. Hopefully the new owners can restore it to its former glory.

March 02, 2020
4 / 10
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Mark White

I am often curious to see a course designed by an accomplished golf professional. Sir Nick Faldo and Steve Smyers co-designed Chart Hills on a better than average piece of land. I have both talked and played with Steve Smyers, who had a good amateur career in the USA, was on the USGA Executive Committee and has designed a few courses in the USA that I like such as Old Memorial outside of Tampa. I have also met and talked with Sir Nick Faldo and was very curious as to what he might incorporate from his career as England’s finest golfer (apologies to John Ball), into his designs.

I do not pretend to know who did more of the routing, design, and work at Chart Hills, but I would guess that it was Sir Nick Faldo. The overall routing is fine as the course moves in all directions and flows with the terrain. However, I do think the routing suffers from contrived doglegs and weak par 3’s.

There are many courses in the USA that have “template” holes – Eden, biarittz, Cape, Redan, etc. Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor are the better known golf architects for including multiple template holes in their courses. While Chart Hills does not borrow from the historically famous template holes, it does seem to include just about every thing one would see on “newer” golf course. For me, Chart Hills feels like a “check the box” golf course. Want a long par five? - first hole. Want acres of sand? - nine and fifteen. Want a punitive golf course? - four and thirteen. Want wispy, high rough? Check. Want severe doglegs? - four and thirteen. Want water in play as a primary defense? - two, four, five, thirteen, seventeen. Want a long par three? - seven. Want a tight driving hole due to trees? - eight and nine. Want a short par 4? -six. Want slippery, sloped greens? - fifteen and a few others. Want an island green? – seventeen.

I often wonder why template holes are built so often, today even as a homage to the past. There are times I see a template hole on a course that is clearly manufactured and unnatural to the land and I wonder what the designer and shaper were thinking. Perhaps it is not the fault of the designer; perhaps the owner required it. But for me I would rather play on a course where it is more natural as opposed to “forced.” Maybe that it why I do have a bias towards links and links-like golf courses, followed by parkland courses, and then followed by a course such as at Chart Hills. Due to the “check-the-box” feeling that I had, Chart Hills gives me a feeling of trying too hard, almost as if the designers did not think they would not get a chance to design another course.

However, make no mistake, Chart Hills is a championship course designed more for better players than it is for the average player. If kept in good condition, it should host professional events as it has done for mini-tour pros.

I heard that the amount of bunkers and usage of sand has been reduced. There is still plenty of it. I do not know what percent has been reduced since it opened but another reduction of 10% would make the course both more playable and enjoyable while still presenting a good challenge for the professionals.

I played the course twice the same day from the member tees and found it to be relatively easy for the tee shot, but more difficult for the approach shots. The greens are appropriately sized although a few are overly sloped and too many are sloped back to front which is why I liked the par 3 third green sloped right to left and front to back and the short par 4 sixth sloped front to back.

The sixth hole is the short par 4 of 306 yards that is meant to be the driveable risk:reward hole for the longer hitters. Yet there is a pond on the right side of the green which probably discourages many from trying to drive the green. It seemed odd to mean to have an unbalanced risk:reward hole.

The hole I did not like for both rounds was the seventh, the long par 3. I thought it had too much sand for the length of the hole combined with a narrow green.

I did like the par 5’s on the course even if I played the first hole very poorly despite its enormous green. I felt these holes were more straightforward and not contrived to be overly difficult. I did not care for the Anaconda bunker on the fifth as it seemed to be overkill to have a bunker 200 yards long beginning from a stream and crossing the fairway. I also thought the ninth and the fifteenth to be the better of the par 4’s. The fourth hole is overly difficult.

I did not care for the par 3’s, particularly the seventh as mentioned above. The seventeenth, the island green, does not belong on this type of golf course.

Overall, Chart Hills is not a course an overseas visitor or someone travelling more than 200 miles should go out of their way to play. It is similar to me to The Oxfordshire as a course that if one were to play it, I think they would not be disappointed, but I am not certain they would walk away with many “fun” memories.

February 07, 2020
5 / 10
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Andy Newmarch

I have played many times at Chart Hills since the opening in the early 90’s and have actually posted two player reviews on Top 100 before. I gave a 5-ball on 27th March 2006 and then a very different 3-ball (just) rank on August 5th 2014. The time around 2014-2015 saw the course at its poorest, un-recognisable in places and around 70 bunkers out of action – on that day in the summer of 2014 my jaw hit the floor in horror with how it had become. This was all done to lack of investment and also some lack of interest as the club was about to be sold.

New owners have been in place now since 2016, so my recent visit this November was to see how things were doing. I am happy to report that the course is on the mend and is making decent progress to return to one of the stronger inland modern courses in the south-east of England. The focus in the last couple of years looks to have been correct with concentration on the tees, the greens and surrounds and also the many bunkers. The tees look really smart now and the bunkers are looking really good and consistent – around twenty of the original number have been strategically removed too. The green-sites have seen the biggest improvement for me and in time could well be better than at their previous best. What I like now is that the aprons, the approaches and the definition between the grass-cuts is spot on – originally there was not really the run-up option to the greens – there is now.

Not too sure where the course will end up in the rankings over the next few years but previously when it was in top notch condition, I would have had this ahead of both courses at The London Club and I imagine that is the first goal in terms of being judged – whether we have a re-entry into the country top 100, that remains to be seen but well done to the new owners and the current team for starting the turnaround.

November 13, 2018
6 / 10
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T P Dean
November 13, 2018

Is the same amount of crazy bunkering on the 9th still there? It looked like Faldo just spewed up sand all over the fairway when I played there some years ago.

Andy Newmarch
November 14, 2018

Yes some may say crazy bunkering and the 9th is an example of this, just a sea of sand from the tee! In all honesty if the course was being built today the idea of 128 bunkers just would not happen. The new look brings this number down to 100 - not everyone's cup of tea I know but pleased to see a decent course on the way back.

Ed Battye

Chart Hills is a flamboyant Sir Nick Faldo designed layout located in tranquil Kent countryside that contains some excellent holes amongst its bold and lavish bunkering.

During 2017 the course has undergone some major course refurbishments. The striking bunkering in particular has essentially been redone and looks very smart. Most of the sizeable sand traps are back in play now and they undoubtedly help give Chart Hills a unique character.

Admittedly, the condition of the fairways wasn’t great but I suspect this is more to do with them being neglected whilst man hours are spent on the mammoth task of returning all of the bunkers into play. The greens, however, were excellent and ran nicely. The course was more than playable on my visit and I expect everything will be back to top spec for the 2018 season.

We are immediately drawn to the impressive scale and style of bunkering at the opening hole; a grand par five that dog-legs to the right and allows you to decide how much of the desert you wish to chew off. All of the par fives feature a lot of sand and although it is obviously preferably to avoid the fairway bunkers there is still a good chance of playing out of them with a long enough club to advance the ball a fair distance. The 16th in particular is a sandy feast with traps to avoid at every step of the way.

I also enjoyed most of the par fours where a diverse mix of mature oak trees, water hazards and of course more bunkers help defend the holes.

In my opinion, the weakest aspect of the course is the set of short holes. Not that they are poor but I simply didn’t connect with any of them. The third, seventh and 11th just didn’t grab my attention like the other holes did whilst the island green at the 17th is undeniably charming it’s slightly out of character with the rest of the course.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

September 18, 2017
6 / 10
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James Telfer
I was given to the opportunity to play Chart Hills a few days ago. I have played the course many times before and have always considered it to be one of the best inland courses in Kent behind the London Golf Club. My overall feeling on this occasion is one of slight disappointment.Firstly the course was sitting very wet and we were playing from the red tees. I would say that about 70% of the bunkers were out of play. All of these issues could be understood considering the time of year but he main disappointment was the condition of the greens. All of the greens were covered in disease and a combination of this and very heavy footprints made for uneven, inconsistent and very bobbly surfaces.Overall I loved the layout and I always have. I think that this is not Chart Hills best moment and there is always a possibility that I was just unlucky and caught in on a bad day. I would like to come back during the spring to see if any improvements have been made.
January 28, 2016
4 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
I have been coming to Chart Hills on and off for around 20 years and right now it is not in the best shape. I have to agree with the recent review; conditioning and presentation is as poor as I have seen – just a real lack of attention all around the course. I gave the course a well-deserved 5-ball rating back in 2006 but not now. I hope that this is just a blip but I think that looking after a course with 130+ bunkers looks to be a little too much right now – so many of these bunkers have in-consistent sand of different colours which is not what this course deserves and many fairways are looking tired and greens are also not in the best shape either. Yes, there are still the memorable holes all around but in the current condition this is nowhere near an English Top 50 course at present.
August 05, 2014
4 / 10
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5 people found this review helpful

Russell Binney
I have played Chart Hills many times over the years and really like the layout. When it first opened it was the premier inland course in Kent with excellent conditioning and the facilities were second to none. Unfortunately the conditioning has drastically fallen away with many bunkers out of play and many different grasses growing on both greens and fairways. Chart Hills has many great holes but needs investment to restore it back to its best.
August 02, 2014
4 / 10
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David Jones
We played Chart Hills after the secretary at Princes wrote to us telling us our months booked tee time could no longer be honoured as they had made a mistake. No such discourtesy at Chart Hills. The staff were accommodating and helpful, giving us a warm welcome. We were on a trip down to play at Deal and St Georges and this course was pretty much shoe-horned in at the last minute but it proved a very pleasant opener and good test. The course was well laid out and in great condition. 6 weeks later I can still remember a good half dozen plus holes, from the big dogleg 1st to the pretty 17th and tight approach to 18. It was in great condition and very playable. Not the most intimidating of courses - it's pretty open and if you are half on your game you should be looking for 30 points - but testing nonetheless. It's the kind of course that if you played regularly you sense you could score quite well. So fun, fair, good condition and good value. Couldn't ask for much more. Thanks Princes for giving us the opportunity to play it.......
June 21, 2013
6 / 10
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Matthew Cousen
Played Chart hills yesterday. There are no bad points or amazing points about Chart hills. To the course. Even off the back tees its no monster due to the run you get off the tee with driver. Sometimes maybe 100 yards. But you dont need to take driver every hole and you have to think about your tee shot every hole, which for a new course is good design. Bunkers (and there are lots of them, and lots which i visited) are well positioned but of good quality. There were quite a few in GUR status and quite a bit of aesthetic work being done on the course, but this didnt detract from the day. Greens were superb. Up there with Open championship courses ive payed this year for trueness if not speed. Water is everywhere but only in play on a few holes. 17 is similar to sawgrass 17th, but is very short so only nerves could make you hit it in the drink. Off the course the welcome is great and very helpful. Club shop is small but adequate. half way house is good and is needed after the walk up the 9th. Spike bar is clean and friendly. Visitors locker room is superb. Practise facilitites are great also.Overall chart hills is definitely worth a visit and i will for one will be back there soon.
September 17, 2012
8 / 10
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Harry Cloke
This course wasn't quite as good as i had expected although still a fun day out. The greens had recently had work done so they were, understandingly, not great. I have also played the London Club and Chart Hills just seemed to be slightly worse in almost every way (apart from the price of green fees). There are plenty of bunkers and water hazards- they are well kept but, again, when compared with the quality of the sand and size of the lakes at the London club it was slightly worse. In addition to this, the course was packed which ensured a really slow round. I think this course is well worth a visit and perhaps i experienced it on a bad day- i think that The London Club is a better course in all areas, although, as a junior, the green fees are £35 compared with The London Club which doesn't have junior green fees so, on a normal day, would cost about £100- this is a huge draw for this course and will ensure that i will visit Chart Hills much more frequently than The London Club
April 10, 2012
6 / 10
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Maarten
April 10, 2012
So you rate a golfcourse by the size of their waterhazards? You should go play some links golf then! Royal Cinque Ports only costs 30 pounds for juniors;)