"For very many years this was the home club of Sam King," wrote Peter Alliss in The Good Golf Guide, "third in the 1939 Open Championship and a contender on many other occasions, notably in 1948, when he caught the maestro, Henry Cotton, during the final round but then faded.
The club was founded when the Wildernesse estate was about to be sold in 1923 and a country club set up. Some of the members of Wildernesse Golf Club objected to the plans and sought the agreement of Lord Sackville to build a clubhouse and the present course."
Architect J.F. Abercromby, much in demand after his earlier designs at The Addington, Coombe Hill and Worplesdon in Surrey, was contracted in 1924 to lay out the Knole Park course within an enormous 1,000-acre estate leased from Lord Sackville. According to the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses by John F. Moreton and Iain Cumming, Braid had visited the property the year before to survey the estate.
As the authors state, “the preliminary survey was Braid’s. Next was the layout and, in addition to Braid, Abercromby was invited to make a plan. Perhaps surprisingly, Abercromby’s was chosen, the committee as a whole favouring his, Lord Sackville favouring Braid’s. The fascinating element of the two plans is that Braid’s travels clockwise, Abercromby’s anti-clockwise, though both use much the same ground.”
Today, the eighteen fairways still occupy the same parkland setting where the course was originally set out, in the northern portion of the deer park. Knole House, one of the finest National Trust properties in England, is situated at the other end of the estate. The layout was lengthened a little in the 1960s, but apart from changes made at that time, the course is more or less the one that Abercromby designed.
I guess most people will remember their first visit at Knole Park, both because many of the holes are visually inspiring and have few equals in Britain, but also because of the other things they see: the deer, the huge changes in elevation, the open vistas with the far ranging views, the huge stately home on the right, the strange little knolls beside the 6th fairway...the list goes on.
If you visit during a busy week-end with good weather, you might unfortunately also have been frustrated by the sheer number of non-golfers wandering about on the course. Many tend to be focused on the deer or just about anything but where you want to hit your next shot. Approaching those people with friendliest possible demeanor did the trick for us, but it was one factor behind a 4+ hour round, which would have been a real minus had the weather not been glorious and the visual distractions so many.
The start of the round is as strong as it is quirky and it was only on the 7th and 8th that I felt that I was playing a"normal" golf course. Also liked many of the slightly quieter holes just after the turn, where placing the tee-shot looked easier but turned out to be just as important to get a decent angle for the approach shot. Finally, great to have some holes towards the end where it was possible to hit it as far as possible without necessarily exposing yourself to more trouble.
To summarise, the whole experience rates very highly. To me, it is pointless to rate "the course on a stand-alone basis", as I believe the visuals are part of the design. In fact, the walk itself is great enough to invite non-golfers to join you for all or part of the round. Also, I know that if I remember the design of many individual holes it is normally a reliable indicator of high quality.
Definitely worth playing if in the area and great to throw into any trip itinerary to get variety.
My eight-iron approach drifted away as I conjured wistful thoughts of Henry VIII, accompanied by trumpeters and outriders, emerging from the gates of Knole House to hunt the deer in the estate’s grounds.
The reverie was broken by the sight of my ball plunging into the sand at the side of the seventh hole – a short par-five which runs parallel to the imposing National Trust property where the king once lodged and entertained ladies such as Anne Boleyn.
Proximity to a former royal residence is far from the only stand-out feature of this intoxicating Kent parkland course.
It was also the backdrop for the videos of the Beatles’ great songs, Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, and is believed to be the scene of witchcraft!
My host, a club member, even suggested the magic had been focused on a specific tree – the one which I hit on the 8th. Eerily, my ball was deflected into a most favourable position in front of the green.
Knole Park is golf mixed with history and environmental quirks, such as the hundreds of potentially ankle-breaking mounds made by the intrepid Yellow Meadow Ant.
This site is of such interest that the club is compelled to work with the National Trust and the Knole Estate on any developments.
And some people think it is only well known for the 600 deer which meander across the entire course.
The quality of the track and the animated tales from my knowledgeable host made it one of the most enjoyable rounds of my top100 quest so far.
Every hole came with a story, diverting my attention from my recent bad run of form so effectively that my game improved beyond recognition.
I hasten to add that that was after the toughest opening stretch which I have experienced so far.
After a particularly warm welcome in the splendid clubhouse and pro’s shop and cobweb-blowing on the impressive practice facility, we took on the daunting opening par-three, the first of six at Knole Park.
It would be foolish to think this means that the course is a pushover. Indeed, the first sets the marker – so tough it is stroke index five.
Before we could take it on, we had to clap the gathered deer away from the tee. They seem to enjoy posing for photos but I am told the stags’ temper can rise when it gets close to rutting season.
Apparently, they don’t usually attack golfers but I was happy to see them trundle off before firing at a green defended by bunkers at the front and sides and bracken to the rear. It was a struggle but I was more than satisfied with a four.
For me, the third was the course’s most memorable, with echoes of the superb second at Hindhead, even though I made a mess of it.
The tee shot is blind over the brow of a hill and the approach goes back up to a green which is tucked high on the right. Correct club selection is essential. I failed to take full consideration of the gradient or breeze.
The fourth is another intriguing hole with a narrow landing area from an elevated tee before a sharp dog-leg to the left.
Knole Park’s slopes and blind shots reminded me of coastal courses but here they complement deep bracken and ferns – the hallmarks of parkland.
There are also the remarkable ‘knoles (a real word, according to my host) ’ – hundreds of anthills giving the rough a lunar feel. Minding one’s steps is essential to avoid injury.
The public is very present at Knole Park, particularly on a Sunday which was when we played. It was astounding to see so many people who seemed to have no regard for the safety of themselves or their small children as they wandered from the designated paths.
My assumption that they were not aware of their surroundings was confirmed when one child picked up my ball and looked as if he was going to walk off with it before I intervened.
Anyway, after this digression, the hits kept coming with a wonderful variety of holes.
My back nine favourites included the long par-four dog-leg 14th with a steep drop to a green protected by out-of-bounds on the right and knoles on the left.
This is followed by a par-five with the understandably named heart-attack hill. By then, I had learned that my conventional club judgment needed strong revision, so I slammed a seven-iron to create a birdie opportunity.
The 18th is a strong home hole with a blind opener followed by a downward approach around the deer (you are not allowed to hit directly at them).
The condition of Knole Park was admirable. The greens have plenty of borrows or, in the case of the 200-yard 12th, a giant hump across it.
The fairways were also impressive but there are tranches of light rough between the tighter cuts which add to the interest and make more fodder for the wildlife.
Most of all, it is fun. I love the quirkiness, the tales of the past and the stunning scenery.
Upon arrival at the course, and teeing off I was initially wondering what all the fuss was about, but once I got into the course, it showed its beauty and more.
The course is carved through such an expanse of land, that each hole has its own identity and is different from the last. The fairways and greens were in great condition, and true, which is a must for a top 100 course.
I'm not a real lover of parkland courses, but this quirky course blends moorland, parkland and a bit of heath to create a unique golfing experience that I've not quite seen anywhere else.
A great day out and can't wait to return. Well worth the traffic on the M25 to get there.
The English language changes, often to the annoyance of the old. Many an old forest contains relatively few trees. So Knole Park golf club is not a golf course of tree lined fairways, greens framed by vegetation and tee boxes sheltered from all but the midday sun. It is, for the most, a course of open vistas, big spaces, tight turf and wind. I loved it.
I loved the sense that you can see people, in the far and middle distance, all doing the thing as you are, playing golf, challenging yourself to hit long shots to some par threes and working out how and where to land the tee shot on the 8th with the pin set at the front.
I loved the sense that the course is integrated into the landscape, with greens set on ledges (2nd, 3rd, 5th, 15th and 16th) set on rises (13th) and down at the bottom of valleys (14th). I also rather liked that the greens were not the receptive type typical of parkland courses; they were firm and true.
So I would definitely recommend Knole Park as a course to play, not just because it is good, but also because words have history. And, as you play among the Fallow Deer and look across from the 6th and 7th to a house with a room for every day of the year, you’ll realise that Knole Park has history as well.
A visit to Knole Park is a captivating experience, set out in the majestic and historic Knole Park estate the course it has elements of parkland, heathland and upland in the design which makes it fairly unique, for Kent at least. Unfortunately I played on probably the wettest and windiest (2 club!) mid-summer days you can imagine but it didn’t detract from what is a very enjoyable experience, the fairways and greens definitely drain well. It starts off with a mid-length uphill par 3 which asks a tough question from the beginning, don’t go right or you’ll be asking the deer to help find your ball. Then you head off and you won’t see the club house again until you walk down the 18th fairway, make sure you are well provisioned because there is no half way hut. The next couple of holes are parkland style, working their way through some fine undulating terrain, 3 and 4 being exceptional short par 4’s which encourage you to let rip with the driver, get it right and you have a short iron to find the green, get it wrong and if you can find your ball amongst the bracken you’ll be chipping out sideways.
You then emerge onto the heathland/upland portion of the course which is much more exposed, certainly felt that on the day I played, you really have to consider the wind when making a shot selection, high ball strikers like me more so. The course has 6 par 3’s which all felt pretty tough but fun, they’ll make or break your score, all were different with severe punishment on at least two sides of each hole, missing the green provides a thorough examination of the short game. The closing sequence of holes from 14 onwards are cracking with 2 of the par 5’s coming at 15 & 17 and an excellent final hole heading down the clubhouse.
The greens were very pure, rolled a lot quicker than they looked given how wet it was, I don’t believe the fairways are irrigated so in a dry spell they’ll give lots of run. I was however disappointed with the conditions of many of the fairways especially the heathland parts, patchy lumpy grass meant it was something of a lottery what lie you’d fine, a little frustrating to find the middle of the fairway and your ball ends up in bare lie with a clump of turf in front or behind. Despite that minor gripe Knole Park is well deserving of its high ranking, there are few courses which combine different styles of golf so well and in such an beautiful setting.
Kent is a county blessed with World Class links golf courses, but if you’re ever travelling down to these, stop off at the ‘Best inland course in Kent’, because you won’t be disappointed by this unique track.
Knole Park is a course unlike any I’ve played before. It manages to combine Parkland, Moorland and Heathland golf and use the natural rolling topography of the National Trust site it resides in to shape a course full of character and surprise. Added to that, Knole Park is home to hundreds of deer, who happily walk the fairways and watch you play.
The first 5 holes are parkland with vast elevation changes. The 3rd is a cracking Par 4 played into a valley and back up a hill to a raised green and the 4th is a lovely driving hole back over the valley of the 3rd.
From the 6th the land flattens and opens out where the Moorland holes begin, played around the grounds of the 15th century Knole House. The view from the downhill Par 3 8th is one of the best on the course affording you a view of 3 separate greens in the distance. In fact with the elevation and the open nature of the course, almost every hole has views across the holes to come.
Having said that, with that openness and plenty of valleys, when the wind is up, the course turns from a plotters course to an almost links-like experience.
Other great holes are the Par 3 12th, playing over 200 yards and fiercely protected by a set of bunkers guarding the raised green, the sweeping dogleg right 14th with a sunken green and the Par 5 17th with a WW2 crater awaiting stray drives.
The finishing hole is a cracker with a blind tee shot and a downhill approach into the final green.
Throughout the course the greensites are superb. The greens roll fast and true and the undulations on the greens and in the swells surrounding the greens are top class.
This is a course the offers a lot of fun and an awful lot of character. Just when you think you have come to expect one type of golf, it throws up another and it’s certainly a course that I would have ranked higher than it’s current position. It’s a real gem.
So as I say, when travelling down to the coast to play RSG or RCP, take a little stop at Knole Park for a warm up.
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Having just played the Kent Cob, I have given this a 5 as per the description...not because it is best in the region...Kent...it will never be best in the region with RSG, RSP etc ......but because it would be if it was in Befordshire or Cambridge etc. A great inland course that is worth playing.Yes flat rate GFee is steep (all GFees are these days) but well worth the £60 on CCard for 18 or only a few quid extra for 36. The scenery is excellent, the greens in superb condition and a great mix of short/long par 4s and 5s. The par 3s are tough and I personally think it is missing a 140-160 (off the back tees) par 3 as they are all over 170 and a couple play more than 200. Not a flat course but the use of the natural undulation really works well. Take all your links courses out of the equation and this is a real gem of a course that ranks really highly for me. Personally, I am amazed at some of the -ve comments this course has received in previous reviews....then again there is no pleasing some people....they would no doubt find something wrong with Augusta!
This course is well ranked in the Kent listings, but after paying a hefty green fee, it did not meet my expectations and match up to the quality as indicated by other reviews. It is located in the beautiful and vast Knole Park, the most natural and wonderful surrounds, and an area heavily populated by deer. The Park is their home.
We played on a very hot day, and the dry fairways were fast-running with tees and greens in superb condition. However the course started with big altitude changes in the first five holes, and I am not a fan of pins appearing on a pinnacle on the top of an incline. Things did not flow with some good and some bad absolutely typified by the 4th, a brilliant left-to-right dogleg followed by a par 3 up what seemed a small mountain slope that was out of range to all but the very best players.
From there the course opened out over very scenic, fairly flat terrain with stunning views of Knole House and across the Park, and some challenging holes notably the downhill par 3 8th, another par 3 at 12 and two par 5s at 15 and 17, the latter which seemed to stretch for ever across the landscape viewed from the tee. But then just when things seemed about to finish in style, the unpredictable nature of the course was summed up by a limp final hole with a totally blind tee shot.
This is a course of contrasts located on a glorious canvas, which I will remember for its magnificent setting and some variable golf challenges, some excellent, some poor and some plain quirky.
Knole Park has been heralded as Kent's finest inland course and this is a great description of the course. It is a very enjoyable moorland complete with many lovely holes and some deer (one of which nearly ate my Mars bar on the 3rd tee).
Knole Park is not amazingly presented and this is due to the deer. However, this does not detract from the overall experience.
1 - a par three of 192/186/186/181 that plays slightly uphill over a small cluster of bunkers. A fairly sedate opener in all honesty.
2 - a par four of 342/343/335/292 uphill to a green carved out of a small hillside. A decent hole but nothing too special.
3 - a beautiful par four of 403/393/380/340 with a large downhill drive. The hole climbs uphill after that to a very narrow green. Definitely one of the more picturesque holes on the course.
4 - a lovely par four of 421/418/410/406 from an elevated tee down to a curving fairway in a beautiful valley. A very picturesque hole but has a slightly awkward approach angle if you are a short hitter.
5 - an uphill par three of 194/180/161/122 that demands you take at least two extra clubs. Not an incredible hole to be honest.
6 - a very good par four of 409/399/372/375 to a fairway in a small valley before playing uphill to a raised green. A great hole that has a very open nature and is affected by the wind.
7 - a par five of 483/480/475/417 playing uphill along the boundaries of Knole house. Nothing too special, but a good birdie chance.
8 - a glorious par three of 184/175/163/161 playing downhill over multiple bunkers and water on the left. A beautiful hole that lies near the scene from the Penny Lane video.
9 - a tough par five of 534/503/472/354 uphill with trees on the left side of the fairway. Another fairly average par five.
10 - a good par three of 171/164/158/125 downhill with renovated bunkering at the front of the green. Me and my dad played the hole in one under gross combined which is quite an achievement since I play off 34 as a junior!
11 - a good par four of 438/427/408/408 which is slightly downhill from the tee. It bends very sharply to the right. The greensite is nice and this is a good hole.
12 - a long par three of 202/198/192/150 with panoramic views over the grounds and moors. It is actually a very nice par three with a sloping green.
13 - a short par four of 342/325/277/276 playing slightly uphill to a green in the shadow of a tall oak tree. A good birdie chance, but not much else to be honest.
14 - a fantastic par four of 499/447/429/435 downhill to a green with the bracken in the background. Apparently Peter Alliss loved the hole. I agree - it was my favourite hole on the course.
15 - a long par five of 546/485/471/461 playing from an elevated tee to a fairway deep in the valley before climbing back uphill. Either this or 17 is the best of the par fives.
16 - a tough uphill par three of 198/188/180/171 that has trouble all up the right. The simple solution is to just aim left of the green. The views from the green are among the best on the course.
17 - a good par five of 521/503/494/492 downhill towards the clubhouse. The green is a bit below the fairway and makes it easier to reach the green in two shots. A nice hole.
18 - a great finishing hole of 401/391/344/312 down the hill with O.O.B on the right. In front of the green is a small pond. A nice, but not taxing, finisher.
Knole Park deserves to be in the Top 100 in England. An excellent course with many great holes.
A wonderful course which makes full use of its surroundings both in an aesthetic and golfing challenge sense.
The first 5 holes are set in a mainly parkland setting which had me slightly underwhelmed. The Par 3 1st and Par 4 2nd are fairly average holes, a nice 3rd over the valley is followed by a fairly average dog leg 4th and uphill par 3 5th.
From the 6th hole onwards the course truly comes into its own when you are greeted to the view of the glorious moorland setting as you enter the 6th tee.
The 8th - 15th holes represent the strongest section of the course with 3 excellent and very pretty par 3’s (8, 10 & 12), a superb par 5 (9th) and a couple of highly imaginative dogleg par 4’s (12th & 14th). All within beautiful natural moorland surroundings and the course famous deer walking the fairways with you!
16 and 17 are a fairly average par 3 and par 5 as the course returns to its parkland area. The 18th however is a cracking finishing hole with OB running all the way down the right providing an intimidating tee shot from the back tees. The approach shot is a testing down hill short iron with a pond to contend with and a glorious vista of the clubhouse behind the green.
Overall a very enjoyable experience and well worth its status as the number 1 inland course in Kent.