Kingswood is set overlooking the Chipstead valley on a site that sits loftily at more than 600 feet above sea level. Founded in 1928 and designed by James Braid, Kingswood Golf & Country Club is located a mile to the north east of Walton Heath and is a relatively unfamiliar course, except to those in the know.
Described as “Braid’s finest parkland course in England”, Kingswood’s gently undulating fairways are flanked by a wide variety of stately trees which combine with ideal topography to create an attractive landscape for golf.
Host venue to multiple important championships down the years, including three Ladies European Opens, Kingswood has always been a good test. But, following a £500,000 renovation programme conducted by Howard Swan during 2008-2010, the Kingswood challenge is now much tougher.
Kingswood was selected to host British Senior Open Qualifying in 2011 and the extension of the par five 14th hole heralds the start of a supremely challenging three-hole stretch coined “Murder Mile” by the members. The new 14th tee has been built on additional land acquired by the club owner Tom Hilliard. What was once the shortest par five on the course is now a 531-yard challenge that precedes two tough par fours (385 and 470 yards) that play slightly uphill and invariably into the prevailing wind.
Today’s Kingswood measures 6,954 yards from the back tees and a healthy 6,589 yards from the regular tees. Despite relatively generous fairways, accuracy as well as length is a prerequisite to carding a good score here due to numerous well-positioned bunkers, which were all completely overhauled as part of Howard Swan’s renovation work.Incredibly, only three players from a strong international field of professionals managed to better the Kingswood par during Senior Open Qualifying in July 2011. Poignantly, one of the competitors remarked: “Before this weekend I had never heard of Kingswood, but what a golf course… I just can't wait to come back and play it again.”
We played Kingswood yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed the round. The course was in great condition and looked fresh after the previous days downfall after such a dry spell. The views afforded across the Surrey countryside as you embark on the back 9 are worth the trip alone. Overall a great course that tests your approach to it and great club house to boot.
Kingswood was designed in the 1920’s by James Braid and had further work undertaken in 2008 by Howard Swan to lengthen the course so that they could host bigger tournaments. The course is very tight in places and requires good course management to produce a decent score. The long hitter or those who are wild from the tee will not do well here. Driving the ball well is pivotal as many of the holes move either left to right or right to left so it is easy to run out of room. That being said there are 4 par 5’s, all reachable in two so compiling a good score revolves around playing these well. Kingswood has some good holes such as the second a long downhill par 4 that swings from right to left before leaving an uphill approach to a sloping green. The 7th is a nice short par three set slightly above the player and is surrounded by bunkers. 13 is a tough downhill par 4 that dog legs severely from right to left before leaving a mid iron approach to a green that runs away from the player. The finishing hole again sweeps from right to left although it is easy to run through this dogleg so you must draw the ball from the tee. The green situated directly outside the clubhouse is slightly raised well protected by bunkers. Kingswood is unlucky in the fact that it is located in Surrey and has such strong competition but it provides a less expensive option than most in the area.