Hever Castle is set on the northern edge of the High Weald. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a fitting location for one of England’s most historic and romantic castles. Dating back to the 13th century, this double-moated castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I.
Hever Castle Golf Club lies within this ancient estate to the north of the River Eden, 125 acres of which form the award-winning Hever gardens. Golf first arrived at Hever in the 1920s in the shape of a 9-hole course that was laid out for William Waldorf Astor (one of America’s richest men at that time) who purchased the property at the turn of the 20th century and then embarked upon an ambitious restoration programme.
The original 9-hole course was abandoned during the Second World War and fifty years passed by before golf returned to Hever Castle in the form of a modern 18-hole course, designed in 1992 by Dr Peter Nicholson, author of Science and Golf, a book that delves into the scientific aspects of the golf game. Nicholson worked with Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas and was a design consultant and agronomist for many clubs in the UK.
Nicholson’s course (fashioned in two returning 9-hole loops called the Kings and Queens) was joined by the shorter 9-hole Princes course, designed by Hever Castle’s Course Manager David Wood in 1998. There’s no argument as to which of the 27 holes comprise the championship layout at Hever Castle, because it was the Kings and Queens 18-hole configuration that hosted a PGA EuroPro Tour event in 2010, which Matthew Evans won, thus securing his place on the following season’s Challenge Tour.
The Championship course is certainly long enough to test the best, measuring more than 7,000 yards from the tips, but it’s playable for all levels of golfer from the forward tees. A stream comes into play at a handful of holes and poses a real threat at the greensite of the testing short par four 13th, which also features a swathe of water running down the left side of the hole.
While aquatic hazards appear at around half the holes on the card, the main threat to posting a decent score are the trees, which flank many fairways. The one-shot holes are particularly memorable and engaging, including the short 6th on the Kings front loop where its elusive, narrow green nestles among a spinney of trees and water waits to catch anything struck offline to the right. The 164-yard 12th is perhaps the prettiest par three at Hever Castle, which affords lovely views and also threatening water in front of the putting surface.
Most golfers will remember the monster 644-yard par five 17th that will test the mettle of every player so late in the round. It’s the tee shot that’s crucial at this hole, which doglegs to the right with water on both sides of the fairway corner. A par here will feel like a birdie for most mortal golfers.
The architect has made good use of the existing features of the Hever Castle site and there’s enough variety here to keep the members happy week in and week out. It’s also a delightful property on which to play golf and is a thoroughly enjoyable all-round experience.
Hever is a very good parkland course, well worth a visit.
The championship course starts in fairly standard fashion, with a relatively straight forward first hole leading to holes 2 to 5 running around the perimeter of the nearby castle’s lake. 6 is a good short par 3 over a snaking stream and small lake, but all in all the front 9 is solid without being outstanding.
After the gettable par-5 10th you reach the best section of the course, with the 11th, 12th and 13th, aptly nicknamed Hever’s “Amen Corner”, a set of beautifully crafted holes in and around a few small lakes and a connecting stream.
15-17 are all testing longer holes, particularly the 17th which is 650 yards from the tips, and all in all the course is on the longer side, but not without it’s shorter challenges. The par-3s in general are well put together.
Overall a good day out, and excellent practice facilities and a short 9-hole course as accompaniment.
I like Hever. It has 27 ok to great holes, and the 18 best are found on the Championship course, or the Kings and Queens. Before I get into my review, I will mention the Princes nine is worth a play too. A fairly average start and finish hide 5 great holes guarded with numerous water hazards, small greens and bunkers. It is on the lower ground and isn't in as good condition as the 18 hole loop, but a nice 9 holes worthy of at least 3 balls on its own.
The actual architecture of Hever Castle's golf course is fairly basic. The bunkers are simple and in low quantities, there are no fancy runoffs or ridiculously sloping greens. In some cases, like the par threes, this is a benefit, but on some longer par fours and fives, it decreases the interest of the holes.
The front nine is not as good as the back nine. Holes two to six are nice enough (six is a fabulous short hole over a small lake), and eight is a very good long par three. But again, more bunkering could bring interest to holes 1 and 7 in particular. I like the 9th, it's a very solid long par five, but it isn't the best hole on the course by any means.
The best par five for me is the tenth, due to its risk reward nature and well placed bunkers about 70 yards from the green. Then, you reach Amen Corner. 11 is a great par four, where strategy is more important than length off the tee. The lake comes into play strongly here. My favourite par three is the 12th, an Augusta-esque hole (not to a high level, but the green is small and well-protected). It is only 130 yards from the yellow tee but you hit downhill over a beautiful pond.
The best hole on the course for me is the 13th. It is again, strategy over distance. The snaking river comes into play on the left, making this hole a Hooker's nightmare. Then, the course plods along for the next 5 holes. The highlights here are the 14th, a par three up the hill that reminded me of the 15th on the East at Sundridge Park, another good Kent course, and the 16th, a long par four lined by tall pine trees to a long sloping green.
One of my least favourite holes is the 17th. It might be the longest hole in Kent (not confirmed, but 644 yards is a tough target!), but it is fairly boring. The water on the course planner doesn't come into play, but there are no bunkers for protection. It's an average par five and isn't a great hole so late in the round.
Conditioning here is good, and the practice facilities are nice. Play all 27 holes and make a day of it, and the clubhouse food is great. A nice course!
I agree, holes 11-13 are pretty special and will last in the memory. Visit never Castle (Anne Boleyn's childhood spent there) and make a day of this glorious part of Kent.
Everything you could want from a parkland course. I’ve played this course a umber of times over the past couple of years in the spring/summer season and every time the greens have been the fast pace that you would expect from a premium golf course but were soft to land on which is hard to come by on most courses in the area during summer. Every putt remained true to the line and rolled well. The greens are generally very well guarded by a mix of water features and bunkers.
Water is a very prominent feature on the around the course with streams and ponds guarding many of the holes. The loop of holes from 11 to 13 provide, in my opinion, the best water holes in all of Kent This combined with the length of the course off the back tees make it a course where you have be accurate AND a long hitter to score well where many many courses tend to be either one or the other.
The course is a reason to visit alone however the clubhouse facilities and practise area live up to the expectation that the course would give. All the staff are incredibly friendly and there is an outdoor waterside terrace that we put to good use after our round. I would definitely recommend Hever to anyone in the area as anyone who truly appreciates an aesthetically pleasing whilst challenging parkland course will not regret their visit.
Very nice walk round a course made up of some interesting holes many of which ate lined with fabulous mature trees. Interesting par threes.
Recommend a visit.
I played Hever Castle at the end of Feb 2019 and after ‘warming up’ on the Boleyn Course tackled the King and Queens. This is a strong parkland layout with water on some holes and a good mix of 3’s, 4’s and 5’s. The best part of the course is on the Queens ‘amen corner’ - hole 11, 12 and 13. Hole 11 starts this excellent run of 3 holes with a dog left par 4 to an elevated green. The par 3 12th is over water but great views from the tee box for that hole in one chance and then the 13th par 4 where you tee off over a lake to a narrow fairway then hot your second shot back over the stream to an elevated green. A great 3 followed by a par 3 and then an excellent 15th hole. Love that stretch. Top quality facilities for practicing and I recommend stay at Hever Castle, less than 1 mile down the road.
I’d like to give this 4.5 – it’s a fun, dramatic and deceptively long course that is (presumably) always in good condition.
My highlight was the par 4 13th which felt more like something at Sawgrass - tee off going across the river, then back over the same river on your approach. The par 3s are all distinct and memorable and the par 5 17th will be one of the longest you’ve played – 618 from the yellows, plus water in play on the tee shot.
There are a few ‘filler’ holes around the club house but these aren’t bad, they’re just not up to the high standard of much of the course. I’m surprised there’s only one Hever review one here so I’m tempted to say it’s a hidden gem. Of the parkland courses in Kent it’s definitely one of the best.
played for the first time march 24th , what a course , was told about there amen corner 11,12,13 , what a run of holes, found the water on all of them but enjoyed every one. each hole is different and offers a different challenge the greens and fairways were superb considering it was march a great challenge for all standards of golfer,i have been running a golf society for 25 years and all my members agreed probably the best course we have played , we were looked after from start to finish and genuinely can't wait to play it again .