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.
Date: June 25, 2021