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.
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 .