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.
Date: October 25, 2020