Kington - Herefordshire - England

Kington Golf Club,
Bradnor Hill,
Kington,
Herefordshire,
HR5 3RE,
England


  • +44 (0)1544 230340

At less than 6,000 yards, many will dismiss Kington as far too short and nothing but a bit of fun. Though fun Kington certainly is, the course should not be taken lightly.

Hutchison's fondness for North Berwick, a links famous for its variety and quirkiness, taught him to value unusual concepts while embracing design ideals developed during the first decades of the 20th century. With Kington’s opening in 1926, Major C.K. Hutchison produced a remarkably crafty course which relies greatly on gaining the correct angles of approach, for the greens often fall heavily away from the front or a side making recovery from the wrong position terribly difficult despite appearances to the contrary.

It should come as no surprise the Major could create such a gem. He was a well-known figure in the game as an amateur (he reached the final of the 1909 British Amateur) and as a serious student of architecture through his membership of Huntercombe, a ground breaking Willie Park Jr design. On a more practical level, James Braid relied heavily on Hutchison's knowledge during the design and construction of Gleneagles King’s and Queen’s Courses and for a brief period, starting in the late 20s, Hutchison was in partnership with Majors G.C. Campbell and S.V. Hotchkin. This "Trinity of Majors" is most famous for their creation of Pulborough, a course well known for its combination of beauty and fierce hazards.

Kington can be described as an inland-super-mare. The sea is miles from Herefordshire, yet the golf at Kington is remarkably similar to seaside golf due to keen turf and rambunctious terrain. Like Royal Ashdown Forest, Kington has no bunkers and the course is generally wide with practically no shaping of the fairways. In fact, Kington is the epitome of why wide is good. Let the golfer open the shoulders, but if he places the ball in the wrong spot he can be left with a devil of a recovery, often times from quite close to the hole.

Bradnor Hill is among the chief defenses with its slopes acting for and against play. The micro undulations (presumably caused by grazing sheep) can leave a player confounded on how to make solid contact with anything other than short irons, or indeed the putter. The course climbs the hill for much of the front nine and affords arresting views of the Brecon Beacons, Malverns and Black Mountains. The club claims that at 1,284 feet Kington is the highest course in England, but that isn't important other than to impart that wind is perhaps Kington's primary defense. The greens tend to be narrow and many are angled against fairways and/or over deep fall-aways. While there are plenty of unknowing breaks to be had, the greens could accurately be described as flat. Kington's turf has a springiness which encourages the player to be aggressive both on the fairways and greens.

The first three holes make steady progress up the hill. All are good and require a deft touch rather than brute force. This abruptly changes on the 4th, still uphill, but a bully of a hole at 435 yards, usually into the prevailing breeze and ending in a sideways two tier green. The short 5th is a wonderful hole – as are all the three pars at Kington. It is here that the player should fully realize that he had better know how to flight his ball and control it once it lands or Kington will steal strokes with niggling regularity.

The course continues to wind its way around Bradnor Hill with blind drives, sloped fairways requiring shaped or very precise tee shots and skyline greens as particular features. Holes of particular merit in this stretch are the one-shotter 9th and the very driveable par four, 10th. Throughout, the course there are awkward, sharpish mounds surrounding the greens which can be terribly frustrating unless one can find some of the available gateways or have great confidence with the wedge.

The 14th is a reachable par five. More people than not tend to find the ferns when having a two shot bash at this green. Unusually for Kington, the green sports a false front which gives the impression of an uphill approach. In truth, the green runs away from the player. After two back and forth holes not without some merit, we reach the 18th, the author’s favourite finishing hole in golf. It isn't often that a significant percentage of handicap golfers can stand on the tee of a par four and aspire to achieve a two-putt birdie. However, on many days this is exactly the goal. Choose a club, take aim at the pro shop, fire away and let the fun unfold.

Without a doubt, Kington can yield a very low score to a good player on his day. However, regardless of scores earned, the course stands as testament to what good design is about; the opportunity to hit all manner of shots while providing fun for the short and long capper alike. For those willing to make the trek to this small corner of pastoral England, memories of Kington’s endearing qualities will stick with them uncommonly well.

Article by Sean Arble

If the above article is inaccurate, please let us know by clicking here

Write a review

Reviews for Kington

Average Reviewers Score:
Description: Kington Golf Club is the highest 18-hole golf course in England and can be described as an inland-super-mare due to keen turf and rambunctious terrain. Rating: 7.3 out of 10 Reviews: 19
TaylorMade
Craig Robinson

1284 Feet above sea level is its claim to fame, the highest golf course in England. It took forever to drive up to the club. Enjoyed my day from my first moment there. The views are spectacular and worth the trip just for that alone.

Very good course and thoroughly enjoyed playing it. Although i felt that this will suit very long and accurate drivers, as holding the ball on the green was practically impossible from 150 yards out as each green is super fast and almost like an overturned saucer. Didn't play my best round, as this course didn't suit my golf but that isn't the fault of the club, which i must say was one of the most welcoming i have ever experienced.

Would recommend a round if you are in the area.

April 30, 2022
7 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

jason

Played here in fairly light winds on a good day for golf and I loved it.

I have to say its quirky but in a good way, very small greens and no bunkers , but interesting with stunning views and scenery on parts of the course.

I think its a course that you could play well and score badly , but at the same time play badly and score well (as I did today)

There are no trees at all but plenty of heath and scrub that can catch you out, and on numerous fairways if you hit the middle you find yourself rolling into the scrub on occasions, frustrating but fun.

Very friendly clubhouse and members.

Its dreadful to get to from most places outside of herefordshire but definitely worth a visit if you want a fun day out and have the ability to ignore the odd unjust bounce or ball refusing to stop on the slope approaches or run offs.

FUN FUN FUN !! golf as it should be

April 28, 2022
7 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

Dan Hare

Played today in sunny, blustery weather giving sweeping panoramas and very sporting golf. There was a great flow to the course, springy turf and very fun green sites with super tricky grass bunkers - up there with Berkhamsted, Durness and Church Stretton.

Obviously the latter is a point of comparison due to its proximity and altitude.

It's invidious, since CS is fitted into a crazy topology and Kington is draped over a hilltop, think of Cuillins Vs Cairngorms.

Play both - the views are sensational, as is the sense of antiquity - as with all hilltops in England one is conscious of being the latest in a succession of people drawn to the spot for changing reasons.

September 29, 2021
6 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

Gordon Ross

Wonderful course in stunning location. The turf is very springy and linkslike and with the winds due to the altitude the course does indeed play like a links. Excellent variety of holes all making good use of the elevation changes. Some very small tight greens that place an emphasis on accuracy but the course isn't long so you always have a chance.

Overall, a very enjoyable place for a game, especially on a clear day when you can soak up the views and the tranquility.

September 26, 2021
6 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

Ian Truman

Kington is in the sticks, so not easy to get to, but if you dont mind travelling, it does not disappoint.

Its got character, uniqueness and excellent playability.

I think a lower handicapper than myself (14) may find it easy to overwhelm, but even though with some long drives leaving me short distances in, the greens were more than challenging enough to protect it. Poor drives got penalised heavily, but you certainly have plenty of room and dont need to be a straight hitter by any means.

The golf is on the good-very good side, but the views and uniqueness give it massive bonus points. Despite it being a hilly location, it wasnt too difficult a walk either, which surprised me.

The welcome received was 2nd to none, even after we'd accidentally hit into the group in front, not to mention bouncing one off the clubhouse, this was met with chuckles and friendly waves, not the angry reaction you would get at other venues. The club could not be more welcoming if it tried.

I would suggest its gone into my shortlist of favourite courses. Maybe not the best courses, but if its just pure enjoyment, i'd say its very hard to beat on that front.

July 13, 2021
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Tim Elliott

Unusual and very quirky, Kington will stir the emotions. If you see golf as an exercise in pure enjoyment, played over some extremely varied tracts of land, you will love the experience here.

At 1286 feet and the highest place to play golf in England, Kington sits atop the vast Bradnor Hill, which provides stunning panoramic views over 5 counties, namely Monmouthshire, Powys, Worcestershire, Shropshire and of course Herefordshire. The first seven holes see you play to the top of the hill, the next six sit astride the summit or just below, and the final five return you downhill to the clubhouse. In this respect, the course is similar to Pitlochry in Scotland, although the latter has a few more trees, and there are surely other courses in the UK with play up to, then around and then down a hill’s highest point.

I particularly liked holes 1 and 18, clearly visible from the clubhouse. The first hole, a tough uphill par 4 of just 300 yards from the yellow tee box, and the last a free-wheeling downhill 275 yard par 4 with a drive left over scrub. This provides an opportunity, if the blow is struck true, to see your ball roll down the hill to the front of a long narrow green in front of the clubhouse, leaving a putt for birdie or better. Holes 14 and 15, the beginning of the descent home, are also holes that will stay in my memory.

Obviously on such an exposed course, the wind plays a large part, we played on a day of moderate winds probably about 20mph. An odd feature is that the generous fairways are not flat, but instead are covered with grassy bumps and hollows, likened by a previous reporter to ‘mini moguls’ which means that you seldom have a flat lie.

Course maintenance is rustic with sheep much in attendance to help keep the grass down on the fairways, although the tees and greens are in excellent shape. On a good, probably calm, day you can achieve an excellent score, but if the wind blows.....! In my view, the Kington experience is to be savoured, and a ‘must play’ to all golfers who love our game.

October 25, 2020
6 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
3 people found this review helpful

RM61

Kington had been recommended to me by a few people…some who lived nearby and some people I trust when it comes to course rankings. It is not the kind of place you just drive past nor is it near a cluster of other good courses but now that my son had Kington Golf Course - Photo by reviewer started university in Gloucester I felt it would be a good time to visit. On arrival the welcome from the proshop was second to none and four members after recognising that we were a two ball even moved aside to let us tee off. There are a number of really good holes at Kington but one thing that stood out were the green complexes and how they are set into the landscape. Nearly all the greens differed from one to the next. Holes such as 4 and 10 had a spine running through the middle of the green from front to back which made it imperative you found the correct level with your approach. Hole 6 green looks as if it is set facing you from the fairway but it actually sits at an angle which makes it tricky to pull the correct club. The 9th green is tiny and although its not the longest of par 3’s missing this green will test even the best short games. The 18th green is also brilliant…very narrow with a slight tier about a third of the way down the green. Most of the green Kington Golf Course - Photo by reviewer complexes are protected by small gullies or eyebrows which give some very interesting lies quite similar to the green complexes at Knole Park. The fairways are also rather unusual with mini moguls running throughout which means you rarely get a flat lie….the turf is excellent to play from almost links like. There are many good holes but the run of 12,13 and 14 were my favourites but to be honest I could not think of a hole that I did not enjoy playing. The conditioning was pretty rustic but by no means does this detract from how good the course is…it actually adds to the experience. I will always remember my day out at Kington with my son..the weather was perfect, the scenery is hard to beat, the course is a lot of fun and the welcome is second to none!

October 24, 2019
7 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
2 people found this review helpful

Tom

First time visit here this week and I loved every second of it. Whoever decided to build a golf course here was clearly bonkers but the results are not just stunning aesthetically, it's a hell of a test of your golf. Your shot making ability is required to be spot on from the first tee shot to the final pitch, and the moment you stop thinking strategically you are very likely to be punished heavily on the scorecard. It's not long but if you try and overpower it and deviate just a fraction off line and send your ball into the thick bracken, you can kiss goodbye to that ball.

I loved how even though the views are already sensational on the 1st tee, the fact that you are climbing for most of the first 7 holes means there's further anticipation of what awaits you. And wow! Panoramic 360 degree views of 7 of the old counties. It's so special here. And the golf is great too with immaculate and fast greens, fairways that tumble from one side to another (you will never have a flat lie), and each green protected by what I can only describe as grassy ramparts. It's very unusual and tremendous fun.

We were welcomed warmly, and it must be the best value course in the country, probably because so few people would be willing to get to such a remote location. More fool them, it's well worth the drive. I would without question place it in the top 100 in England over some of the good but far less interesting courses currently ranked there in and around the M25.

July 12, 2019
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

T P Dean

Kington Golf Club is located on the most spectacular little spot at the summit of Bradnor Hill adjacent to the Welsh border. Considering that it’s the highest eighteen-hole golf course in England and since this game was born on the linksland by the sea, its elevation alone wouldn’t make this the most natural location for a golf course. The mile long climbing stretch of single track driveway to get to the course is fairly treacherous, but there are some truly stunning views and Kington Golf Course - Photo by reviewer quite sublime golf to reward you of the journey once you reach your destination.

Firstly, ignore the sub-6,000 yards as an indicator of the examination you’ll receive at Kington, for it’s no push-over and local knowledge will be fundamental to scoring well. Wind aside, there are two primary forms of protection here, firstly the green surrounds where chunks of earth have been torn up to create bumps and craters that feel both natural and alien, if that description in itself isn’t a contradiction. Secondly, there’s the heavy bracken that lines every fairway, so accuracy from tee to green is key or you’ll need the mercurial touch of Seve Ballesteros if you’re hoping to make a score with creative recovery shots around these greens. Those amazing green complexes can also throw your ball way offline and there are times where you’ll feel downright hard done by with what you assumed to be a decent shot. There’s also hardly a level lie to be had.

There’s no hint that any attempt Kington Golf Course - Photo by reviewer has been made to flatten out the fairways as they’re made up of a collection of small but natural bumps. I suspect the sheep that roam these fairways have had a lot of influence in the lies you’ll receive and the general grooming of the land.

The holes themselves usually feature gradients of one type or the other. Blind drives are met with steep drop-offs with each hole expressing individuality whilst being isolated from the next. The driveable 18th in itself typifies Kington with the most amazing green that’s plonked onto a side-slope where the line of attack is high and left above the green whereby you’re left to watch and hope that your ball will tumble back into a sensible position.

I found the course to be in good condition also, something that often blights these common land courses; the greens rolled very nicely in mid-Summer and I’ve been reliably informed that the course maintains a similar high standard year-round. Kington’s a delight to play and should be on everyone’s radar as it’s a wonderfully unique experience and too much fun for me not to consider a revisit one day, so it’s well worth the excursion, even if it is in the back-end of nowhere.

July 12, 2019
7 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
2 people found this review helpful

Ed Battye

There’s something quite remarkable about Kington. It has what I call the “Double Q” factor; Quirk and Quality.

It has a similar eccentric personality to many other hilltop layouts as well as good turf, natural contours, kooky features and plenty of undulation. But where Kington really excels is that is has very few weak elements; no moments of absurdity that often blight related courses. The extrovert layout of the course simply adds to its appeal.

Laid out mostly on top of Bradnor Hill, above the medieval town of Kington in the beautiful county of Herefordshire, it nestles on the Welsh border and is the highest 18-hole golf course in England. As you would expect from such an elevated position the views are simply stunning.

With regards to the golf there’s a real consistent quality to the course and the unconventional nature doesn’t detract from this at all, in fact all the holes request good and clever golf from the player. I suspect that the savvy competitor will do well at Kington. In a similar vein to good links courses not only is approaching the greens from the correct location important but equally vital is not missing them on the wrong side.

You won’t find a bunker in sight but the many natural humps, bumps, grassy hollows and drop-offs around the greens ask for all kinds of creativity when you find yourself not only in the wrong spot… but in the correct one too! One thing’s for sure; you had better bring your imagination to Kington.

The various slopes and contours around the greens can be used as your friend if required and often dictate the type of shot you must play. The fairway approaches have plenty of shallow, rumpled undulations in them giving an almost lumpy feel and because of this you can expect many unpredictable bounces as well as uneven stances and lies. If the terrain doesn’t entirely promote the ground game it certainly doesn’t discourage it and is more than accepting of it.

Many of the putting surfaces aren’t visible when playing to them and because of the moderately hilly nature of the course you often have to just put your ball ‘up there’ and let wind and gravity do the rest. Watching the end result slowly unfold before you is great fun albeit maddening at times.

A lot of courses have moments of individuality and contain something a bit different to the norm but few can match the consistency of quality that Kington also produces and whilst it’s never going to be a world-beater it rarely puts a foot wrong. There is never a dull moment during an endless run of unique holes. The course is bags of fun, very funky, wholly fascinating and continually entertaining yet most importantly always challenging.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

April 27, 2017
6 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
3 people found this review helpful