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.
At the end of 2019, Chart Hills became part of the Ramac Group, which is controlled by the McGuirk family who also own Prince’s in Sandwich. A large rebuild operation took up most of 2020 as new drainage was installed across the course and fairways sand capped with 32,000 tonnes of sand spread in a four inch layer throughout. The old bentgrass fairways are now composed of hard-wearing ryegrass and a course reopening date of March 2022 was brought forward a year because of progress made during the covid crisis.
A fabulous course in superb condition. The layout is a real strategists delight with many shot options presented on every hole and no real benefit to being a long hitter except for a couple of holes perhaps. Presented in great condition with the feel of a seaside links when the wind blows. Most definitely worth a vist and also a higher position in this list. Let down a touch by the club house facilities and locker rooms that could do with a bit of TLC.
Great inspiration from the great Nick Faldo. A visually and technically intimidating course winding through this beautiful Kent valley. Requires the full repertoire of shot making and every club in your bag. Fantastically conditioned course with very good greens. Play off the Oak markers for a proper challenge. Great reception staff, service and facilities.