Knole Park - Kent - England

Knole Park Golf Club,
Seal Hollow Road,
Sevenoaks,
Kent,
TN15 0HJ,
England


  • +44 (0) 1732 452150

  • Neil Statham

  • J.F. Abercromby

  • Andrew Butterfield

"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.

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Reviews for Knole Park

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: Designed by the great architect J.F. Abercromby in 1924, the unique Knole Park Golf Club has been described as an inland links. Rating: 4.5714285714286 out of 6 Reviews: 10

I played Knole Park on a perfect April morning in 2018. The course lies on rolling - even hilly - ground, and the hole designs inevitably reflect this fact. There is a lot of "up and down" on this course, which makes for a nice variety of both vistas and golf shots. Since the course lies near (or within?) a game preserve, you'll be sharing your round with dozens of deer, Knole Park Golf Course - Photo by reviewer but I saw no evidence of destruction on the greens or in the bunkers, so this presented no problem. Conditioning was excellent (I've yet to run across poor greens on ANY London-area course) and I found the layout of the holes to be very natural and old-school (recognizable to any golfer familiar with Abercromby's work at Addington and other masterpieces). This is not the easiest course to find, but is sufficiently convenient for visitors to greater London. As vacationing U.S. golfers continue to pour into Scotland and Ireland to play the admittedly wonderful and iconic links courses, it strikes me that the sheer depth of courses across England (links, parkland and heathland) - many of them reasonably priced - is generally underappreciated. Knole Park is a great example of this fact.

5 / 6
Knole Park
May 08, 2018


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Stumbling across Knole Park on a balmy May afternoon was like finding a little golfing treasure trove. There’s lots of golfing goodness to be found at this most English of golf courses.

I’m not sure where this course has been all my life but I’m so glad it is now a small part of it. Discovering hidden gems is rare in the modern age where I doubt there is a venue that hasn’t been showcased on its own website, in one of the golfing magazines or on social media etc...

For those outside the region I’m urging you to firstly look up where Knole “Park” is and then immediately go and book a tee-time there as quickly as you can.

I place the word park in quotation marks above because that title is doing it a disservice in the 21st Century. Nowadays any course that isn’t a links or heathland, maybe you could add in moorland, seems to get tarnished with the term parkland. However, there’s a big difference between a golf course built on agricultural or meadowland to what you will find here. Knole Park derives its name from the more stately sense; a ‘deer park’ played in the grounds of the striking Knole House. You are more likely to see shades of brown than green here and the specimen trees are rarely in play and if so used strategically rather than with a penal, fairway-lining nature. Fortunately for golf The Great Storm of 1987 felled over 70% of the trees across the park.

The tightness of the turf and the keenness of the ground all around the estate are more reminiscent of links conditions than anything with the P-word in its title. It’s essentially a fast-running, sandy and bracken blessed piece of land that uses its natural assets to splendid use. The lack of long grass around the greens not only highlights some splendid green sites but gives options on how to play recovery shots.

If nothing else Knole Park must be one of the most invigorating of walks; the scenery, the wildlife and just being out in the Kent countryside air makes one feel healthier. Playing here is a true joy and gives me hope of finding other golf courses just waiting to be discovered by the wider golfing population.

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

4 / 6
Knole Park
May 16, 2017


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[Knole Park] “is still very new, but I think, when it is a little older, few, if any, park courses will be better. Certainly none will be prettier.” Wrote Darwin in The Golf Courses of Great Britain in 1925.

Knole Park 3rd hole

“There are the loveliest holes down winding forest glades, full of romantic possibilities in the shape of gentlemen in Lincoln green shooting the deer on moonlight nights. The more open holes are very good too, for the ground is all undulating, and when we emerge from the woods to the ‘plain’ in front of the house, we need not expect a flat lie or a flat stance. As with all Mr. Abercromby’s courses, there is great richness in the matter of short holes and if we are very lucky or very skilful we may get six threes. However, we shall get plenty of fives to make up for them.”

Those who know me are aware that I am a great fan of Bernard Darwin’s musings. I think he is the best golf course writer to have ever put pen to paper. Additionally, I rarely disagree with his golf course assessments and his short passage above is still absolutely valid nearly one hundred years later.

Knole Park Golf Club

I played Knole Park last Monday morning in glorious early April sunshine with a chilly, two-club wind blowing. It was simply magical to finally get to play here after years of wanting.

The “Park” moniker could perhaps be better named, “Deerpark”, which for me has a slightly different connotation and represents more accurately the essence of Knole.

After completing the first six holes, I said to Brian Ward my playing partner that this is the best parkland course I’ve ever seen in England and by the time I putted out on the 18th (after we’d both absent-mindedly dumped our approach shots into the pond) I was sure my earlier assertion was correct.

Knole Park Golf Club

I have no idea whatsoever why it has taken me almost three decades to play here and I can promise you I’ll be back. There is more drama here than at any other park course I’ve ever seen and there are hole designs that would never be attempted today (even if land like this was available). The ground on which Knole is routed is exceptional and (at the first time of playing) you could never best guess what to expect next, as virtually every hole has its own unique and often thrilling character. Five of the first six holes could be signature holes on any parkland course.

The whole experience is palpable and I urge everyone who is remotely interested in Golden Age designs to visit pronto. And if you are disappointed by the golfing experience, you should sell your golf gear and take up crochet. In my opinion Knole Park (currently #8) is way too low in the Kent rankings and frankly it’s a better course than a good number of layouts in our current English Top 100. It’s seriously underrated.

5 / 6
Knole Park
April 16, 2017


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As soon as I walked through the gates I knew this was going to be a special golf course with deer wondering everywhere on the course. Holes 3 and 4 have amazing tee shots into valleys below. The course has a feeling of space as it is on a huge plot of land. The views from hole 17 are incredible. Greens were quick and true. Very friendly welcome in the clubhouse. A great golf course that should be ranked a lot higher. Overall a great day out and a must play course.

Royston Barnes

6 / 6
Knole Park
October 10, 2016


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The course itself is set in beautiful rolling countryside and has plenty of interesting features. However, having played it today, I was disappointed by the very poor condition of the greens. Very slow, inconsistent, uneven and generally not repaired, which as a mostly members club is surprising. Additionally, the greens and tees are very close together so watch out for errant approach shots.

2 / 6
Knole Park
August 04, 2016


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Neil Statham
February 28, 2017

It seems you were unfortunate to play the week after the summer course maintenance. Like most good courses some essential maintenance on the greens in the summer is advisable, as recovery is usually very quick and the greens return to a smooth and fast surface within a couple of weeks. Regarding the Tee's and Greens being close together. This is certainly not a feature of the course. One of the great things about Knole Park is the sense space as the course is spread out over 200 acres, so the vast majority of holes are well away from each other.

Played the Knole today. What a golf course...always had preferred the Addington but no more. The Knole is such a fabulous track and perfectly layed over the ground it rests on. A great set of par 3's like most Abercromby courses but the Knoles are superb. I could run through all the holes but the real standouts as I see are 3,4,6,8,11,12,14......but the rest are just as good.
5 / 6
Knole Park
February 12, 2016


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Knole Park is a unique course in a beautiful setting and one which all golfers will enjoy playing – it’s gem and underrated in my opinion. The course has amazing views and a real feeling of space –it feels like it’s spread over a huge plot of land but is so natural and really peaceful, just a beautiful place to play a round. It’s hard to compare Knole Park to any other club but if I was pushed I’d say it was a mix of Hindhead with the very best of Hampton Court.The course itself is challenging but also fair with reachable par 5’s making up for longish par 3’s. There are a lot of great holes (no two holes the same) with plenty of elevation changes so you will have to use every club in your bag – the sign of good course in my opinion. The greens were in good condition, despite recent work being carried out, and all of the green staff were respectful and friendly when getting ready to play as were all of the members we encountered both on and off the course. It’s hard not to relax around here! They are working on what looks like an amazing practice area, making this club a great place to learn and play golf. I am already looking forward to returning and playing it again.TL
5 / 6
Knole Park
August 08, 2014


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Gavin
February 25, 2015
Knole Park is a hidden gem set in a majestic park in Kent. The undulating ground and views are spectacular. The course is a tough challenge especially during the summer months with fast true greens and when the bracken is at its most punishing. Keep it straight at all times. The deer that roam free on the course are an added delight. Clubhouse is traditional, friendly and has a relaxed atmosphere. All in a very good days golfing and a course to return to.
A under rated course in my opinion and I'm rather surprised it hasn't made the top 100 in England and I have been lucky enough to play 70 of the top 100. There are no weak holes at all, it is a course full of character and is no pushover. Its very undulating and plays longer than the scorecard would suggest as many holes are uphill and your shooting into raised greens. Really enjoyed the day here and it resembled Hindhead in many ways. Too many stand out holes to list them all, just go and visit if you get the chance, you will receive a nice welcome from all at the club aswell.
5 / 6
Knole Park
January 27, 2012


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I really enjoyed playing this course for the first time last summer, it is compared to a links course however this is not true, it comes under no category, it is unique. This course is fun in the summer however in the winter it is extremely easy as the braken is cut and all the bunkers are at the front of the greens (as you have to roll it onto the greens in summer)so bunkers aren't really in play in the winter. The greens are fast and playing irons off the fairways is a joy, one poor factor is that only two bunkers were in range off the tee for me, this means it is rediculously easy off the tee.A good course though, i recommend playing it .
4 / 6
Knole Park
February 12, 2011


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The course at Knole Park is on land that is spectacular and undulating and to be honest unlike what I have come to understand Knole Park - 16th Flag - Photograph by Andywhat a golf course layout looks like (in places I did get a feel of Hindhead GC) - I am in two minds whether to say I liked it or not. There is nothing really to dislike but this course is a little quirky and may take a few rounds to actually understand. I’ll list the positives first; the greens on all 18 holes are quality and are a joy to putt on. The variety of holes is memorable and a par of just 70, gives the tough test that we are all looking for on a course. The herds of deer all around enhance the experience plus the many walkers and their dogs all go to making this a very nice place to be – the slight problem is that Knole Park is really a country park that has a golf course on it rather than primarily a golf course and for me that slightly gave the flow of holes an awkward feel – I am sure that future visits will help my understanding though. Scoring well is a hard job that is clear with many tough holes – the third is an early example; around 400 yards but playing to an elevated green that slopes front to back and the eleventh is another tough cookie, this time a 422 yards severe dog-leg right par-4. I feel as though I have to mention the par-3’s; there are six of them and the yardages (from the back tees) are 192, 194, 184, 171, 198, 198 – all a little similar in length which is more of an observation than a criticism. The final hole has a blind drive and a wonderful feel about the approach to the green with a natural water hazard just short and right and the clubhouse directly behind. I recommend the course but be warned that it is a fairly hard walk and also it will take more than one round to love it in my opinion
4 / 6
Knole Park
October 21, 2010


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