Members of Coombe Hill Golf Club are blessed to play on one of only a handful of courses designed by J.F. “Aber” Abercromby. It’s said that the master architect spent a great many hours, not only walking the land, but also floating over the site in a hot air balloon, honing his design. In 1911, three years after completing Worplesdon and three years before Addington, Abercromby’s course at Coombe Hill opened for play with the Right Honourable Winston Churchill among the early club members.
“This is another astoundingly quiet and lovely place to find so near London.” Wrote Bernard Darwin in the Golf Courses of Great Britain. “Birch-trees, rhododendrons and heather and fairways that find their way among them, first uphill and then downhill – such is a stranger’s general impression.”
There surely must be something in the Kingston Upon Thames water. Remarkably, Coombe Hill has been associated with famous professionals for most of its history and four of them won the Open Championship: Sandy Herd, Arthur Havers, Dick Burton and Henry Cotton. “People who have never seen Coombe Hill will probably think of it as the place where Sandy Herd was always doing holes in one,” wrote Darwin, “till they grew positively tired of reading the newspapers. Indeed, the scores that Herd did there and the number of times he holed his tee-shot were uncanny.”
The quartet of par threes (two on each half) is a particular highlight, with only the final one-shot hole, the heavily bunkered 147-yard 17th, measuring less than 150 yards. The 6th is the opening par three, where club choice is paramount depending on where the pin is cut on the two-tiered green.
The 9th, affectionately known as “little gem”, measures 185 yards from the tips and it’s one of the best and most attractive one-shot holes in Surrey. A pretty valley separates the tee from the plateau green, which is not only ringed by four bunkers, but also slopes wickedly from left to right. Marking a three on the card here is no easy feat, even for the accomplished player.
The 188-yard 12th is a favourite of many and another delightful one-shotter where you should take a bow if you find sanctuary on the smallest green at Coombe Hill, which has a severe fall away on the left hand side. Coombe Hill is routed in two returning nine-hole loops and measures 6,401 yards from the back tees with par set at 71.
Back-to-back par fives appear at holes 4 and 5, so build your score going out as there is only a solitary par five coming home. The undulating terrain and exciting elevation changes make for thrilling golf, but if you find yourself on the wrong side of pin, especially above the hole, you will do very well to avoid three putting on Coombe Hill’s notoriously tricky greens.
Early in the new millennium, Ken Moodie was called in to oversee a bunker restoration project which eventually resulted in the installation of fifteen new bunkers and the remodelling of fifty-two others. A number of grass hollows and mounds were also created, along with two green extensions and the drainage of three others.
I was lucky enough to play Coombe Hill earlier this year and what an absolute pleasure it was. Even the drive up to the club is truly exciting - you come off the busy A3 and find an oasis! The staff were extremely welcoming and were always one step ahead of our needs. The course itself is testing, albeit not particularly long, which makes for a great challenge! The greens were in fantastic shape across the whole course and offered an extra challenge as they undulate a lot. The clubhouse is also a great place to enjoy a beer after the round. A truly wonderful experience!
An outstanding golf course so close to the centre of London. The whole experience was enjoyable; service, facilities, course and staff. There are some special holes and we had sunshine to top off the experience! The greens were in great shape too which just added to the fun.
Just occasionally a course exceeds expectations in abundance - Coombe Hill has done just that during my first visit recently.
The course has been around forever and celebrates it's centenary in 2011, so why has it not been recognised and ranked along with so many other Surrey greats is a mystery. The current Top 100 for England on this site has 16 Surrey courses ranked and 11 of these are in the countries' Top 50 - Coombe Hill can sit alongside these at ease. I have personally played 13 of the 16 mentioned above and this course should be ranked amongst these. In fact the review from 09/08/2010 is very good and the courses referred to as direct comparisons are spot-on; I think I would add in Wentworth's East and The Addington to the list too.
This is a beautiful part of the world with trees everywhere, classic spongy heathland with greens near to perfect. The course starts with three par-4's that get progressively harder with the 3rd a tough cookie; dog-legging left with a raised sloping green. Two shortish par-5's follow and then the first short hole at the 6th which is a downhill beauty. The 8th hole is 420 yards uphill with a SI of 4 but it is much harder than this, especially at the green, very very slick from back to front. Refreshments await behind the 8th and this is a lovely spot to reflect for a few minutes before taking on the brilliant par-3 9th which is around 180 yards over a valley. There is only one blind drive and that comes at the 10th...the line is left-side with a slight fade and the hole then develops downhill. That downhill becomes uphill at the 11th which is one of the four tough par-4's where many will struggle to get-up in two shots. The 12th is another very good par-3 and reminded me a little of the 9th hole on the Duke's course at Woburn. The final third of the course starts with two short par-4's and this corner of the course is an absolute delight and very tranquil. There is a lot of variation to close the back-9, with pars of 5,4,3,4 ..... the 15th is from a raised tee with some nice views back towards SW London and once again the favoured tee-shot must shape left to right. The 16th is one of the very tough par-4's, the 17th is the shortest of the par-3's and the 18th brings you back to the clubhouse and if you need a par 4 to win your match, you will have to work for it, mainly as the approach to the green will be blind.
Everything about Coombe Hill oozes quality; the people, the course and the clubhouse atmosphere too. Like I said at the beginning it feels as the course has been hidden for too long and is long overdue a proper standing and a ranking in the county - and absolute proof that length of holes is not the be all and end all. I have been lucky enough to have played 100's of courses that are featured on the Top 100 site and I have now found another 6-ball course - I will return in centenary year, hopefully in May when the rhododendrons are in bloom to try and add to a perfect day.