Review for Kington

Reviewer Score:


I’ve been meaning to get to Kington for many years but for some reason failed to make the journey, which for most will be a trek. I was lucky enough to finally make it to Bradnor Hill last Monday and played the course on a gorgeous sunny day with Brian Ward, who also hadn’t seen Kington before. Tom Doak waxed lyrically about Kington in his new Confidential Guide to Golf Courses – I think Sean Arble must have insisted he make the trip as this is one of Sean’s favourite tracks (Sean wrote our introduction) and I now know why he loves it. “Here is a course which will not appeal at all to some observers, yet might well be a favorite for those who appreciate its charms” wrote Doak. Put me down largely in the latter category, but only because Kington has some of the best and most interesting greensites I have ever seen. Take away the greensites and Kington would fall into the bracket of best left for the orienteers, sheep and hill walkers.

Kington Golf Course - Photo by reviewer

Sure there are some dramatic drives from hilltop tees to fairways that cant this way and that, which provides excitement and thrills, but the site is rather too extreme to be ideal. However, there are quirks to be seen at Kington that I’ve never seen anywhere else and Mr Doak quite rightly said, “if you enjoy seeing something different, you’ll remember Kington long after you’ve forgotten some of the championship links.”

Never before have I seen so many tiny little moguls on some fairways. I have no idea what might have created these fascinating bumps. Could it be geology, sheep or man, who knows? These moguls, tightly mown by sheep and man, create some of the most awkward lies I have ever come across and I was intrigued by them from the word go.

My short game early in the round was more akin to a blacksmith than Phil Mickelson. I ended up on the wrong side of the greens for the first few holes and found my ball on incredibly tight and uneven lies, requiring delicate pitches over the unique raised ramparts that encircle the low side of the narrow greens. Needless to say I failed to master any of these shots and ended up three down after three holes.

Kington Golf Course - Photo by reviewer

It soon became apparent that many greensites adopted these raised ramparts or “berms” as Tom Doak describes them. It seems to me that once upon a time there were many bunkers that surrounded many greens and the spoil from digging these bunkers was used to create the ramparts. Whether or not sand was ever placed in these bunkers is unknown but they are effectively now grassy hollows, some with table top flat bottoms. I’ve never seen anything like it before and my feeling is that these are way harder from which to play than any conventional sand bunker.

Did I enjoy Kington (even though I lost 4&2…I never recovered my poor start)? You bet. Would I go back? Most definately. Would I place Kington in my own personal English Top 100? I’m not sure. I think if it were just down to the greensites, I’d have Kington in my Top 10. Regardless of ranking, Kington is an absolute must-play for any lover of quirky golf course architecture. Would I change anything? No is the definitive answer. It’s unique, incredibly enjoyable and set in a landscape that affords some of the most glorious inland views I’ve ever seen. Make the journey, play it and disagree with me.

Date: May 18, 2016

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