Kedleston Park Golf Club was established in 1947 but its origins can be traced back to the mid-1890s and the formation of Markeaton Golf Club. This now defunct club, one of nine founding members of The Derbyshire Union of Golf Clubs in 1913, did not survive the expansion of the city of Derby immediately after World War II, but many of its members continued to play by switching their allegiance to the newly formed Kedleston Park club.
The intended move to the grounds of the historic Kedleston Hall, ancestral home of the Curson family since the 12th century, had actually been planned in 1939 – when James Braid pegged out an 18-hole layout in the hunting grounds of the estate – but the war intervened, preventing a new course being built. When hostilities ceased, John Morrison, the design associate of Harry Colt, worked with construction company John R. Stutt to complete the course.
The course remained intact for all of half a century until David J Russell collaborated with European Golf Design to remodel the layout, building several new holes and reconstructing all the greens to USGA standards. Architects Mackenzie & Ebert advised on a three-year bunker renovation project in 2013 and Head Greenkeeper David Leatherhead – who started out with the club in 1974 – led the in-house team carrying out the upgrade work.
The toughest hole on the front nine arrives early in the round at the left doglegged 2nd, ‘Abell’s Forest’, where a single bunker protects the raised green on the front right hand side of the raised putting surface. On the back nine, the 417-yard 15th, ‘Oak Corner’, is another strong par four which doglegs right this time to a green guarded by sand on either flank.
The spectacular neo-classical Kedleston Hall mansion lies to the south west of the course, on the other side of the Cutler Brook, and it can be viewed from many of the holes on this beautiful parkland track. Designed by architect Robert Adam, this magnificent building was completed in the 1760s and it’s well worth a look around if visiting the golf club for the first time.
Course designer DJ Russell commented as follows:
I am thrilled that you are recognising Kedleston Park on your website. It is a major part of my life as I was assistant professional there for two years then represented the club whilst playing on the European Tour for twenty years years before becoming the Club Professional in 1996, a position I proudly held until I took on Archerfield Links in 2001. I redesigned Kedleston Park with European Golf Design in 1996/7, reconstructing all eighteen greens and approaches to USGA specification.
Holes 5, 6, 13 and 14 were completely rebuilt to give the course a better balance, turning the 6th from a par five to a par four (the 5th and 6th were both par fives originally) and the 13th from a par four to a par five. All of the remaining fourteen greens were modified to enhance the way that the holes were traditionally played.
It was a great opportunity that gave me the stepping stone to become a recognised golf course designer and I thank the members of Kedleston Park for trusting me with their course and hope that golfers will enjoy the wonderful surroundings of Kedleston for many years to come.
Head Professional Ian Walley describes his two favourite holes:
Hole 5 – Par five, 527 Yards
Hole 10 – Par four, 375 Yards
In terms of rankings, English parkland courses will always be behind links and heathland categories, unfortunate but that is the way it is and most would agree with this. There are some exceptions to the rule; Woburn, Stoke Park, Moor Park and few others but it seems that however much the parkland style of course tries, many times it will come-up short of dining at the top table.
Kedleston Park is in that category:- the positives are that it is presented and conditioned well, it has a healthy membership, this year will host regional Open qualifying and the 10th hole is a beauty. This hole is from an elevated tee that turns right at around 240 yards to a green and setting that could be described as Augusta like. Other good things about Kedleston are the strength of the par-4’s with at six of them over 400 yards, so a great test.
My slight issue, after these positives are that some holes are a little dull; the par-3 161 yard 4th would be much improved with an elevated tee. The very next hole is a par-5 at 527 yards and very straight and the only protection seems to be two bunkers on the left at about 220 yards – to make this a stronger hole, the last 300 yards needs a re-think – I would suggest some fairway shaping and bunkers at the lay-up area would do wonders. The par-3 7th over water is a good and memorable hole but the par-3 11th for me is just to similar to the 3rd – it is about 20 yards longer and has a decent green but not a great looking hole, maybe an offset tee option? The run of holes from 12 to 15 are a little up and down and again, nothing to get juices flowing.
I was looking at a 3-ball ranking for Kedleston, which means average but I think I will just give the ‘good’ ranking here (4-ball) because of the positive points. I hope I have not put visitors off or upset any of the membership but after a good day at the club, I just wasn’t that excited about the course. I suppose your feelings of courses like Kedleston Park also have to be taken in context in terms of how many courses you have played and your own personal favourite style.