Rochester Golf Club, as it was originally named, was established in 1891 with a 9-hole course located at Oakleigh Farm in Higham. The club then moved to the Deer Park in Cobham Hall just after the Great War, after obtaining a lease on the property from the landowner, the 8th Earl of Darnley.
Hugh Alison, a partner in the short-lived design company of Colt, MacKenzie & Alison laid out the 18-hole course for the club and everything proceeded well for more than seventy years, until plans for the Channel Tunnel rail link resulted in the relocation of the clubhouse and the introduction of several new holes.
Donald Steel was the architect chosen for the major development and he built seven new holes, made changes to the other eleven holes, including the upgrade of all the greens to USGA standard. Planning restrictions allowed only indigenous hardwood trees to be replanted so the property now features fine arboreal examples of beach, chestnut and hornbeam.
Today, the course measures 6,597 yards from the back tees, playing to a par of 71. Feature holes include short par fours on the 4th and 17th, the longest of the four par threes at the 213-yard 16th (with sand to the right of the left to right sloping green), and the 443-yard closing hole, where the fairway gently turns left off the tee towards the home green.
The thing that has got me most about RCPGC is that every time I have been there the course is presented in immaculate condition. Standout holes for me were the short par 4 4th and the par 3 16th, otherwise it is a simple yet testing layout. Very nice!
I played the course yesterday in a UK Seniors GA event, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Firstly the course was in outstanding condition - handmown greens with great growth and beautifully true, and the rest of the course set up to a comparable standard. I believe the green complexes have been remodelled relatively recently, if so that is a job well done, as they have plenty of movement and interest, and some tricky, tight mown run-off areas. The terrain is gently rolling parkland, with one or two fairways, such as 10 and 12, tilting sufficiently to require a shaped tee shot to hold them in firm conditions. Trees do come into play, notably at the dog legged 6th and 13th, but overall the course has a delightfully open feel, in my view enhancing the experience
It is a course whose strength is the overall ensemble of holes - there may be few outstanding holes, but there is hardly a weak or dull one, The course exceeded my expectations on all counts, It is no surprise that it is currently a regional qualifying corse for the Open. Worth a higher ranking within Kent, in my view.
I've played Rochester & Cobham a lot over the years and personally always felt its a hidden gem and underrated, as parkland courses go. It’s usually in good condition and they seem to be working hard at creating the best course they can.
The first 3 holes are fair without being anything spectacular but it is as you loop round and pass the clubhouse that the course gets interesting. For me the stretch from 4 to 7 is the strongest on the course.
The back 9 is generally good without having a standout stretch. The par 4’s on the course are its strength, it also has some good par 5’s although its weakness is its par 3’s. They’re all similar in length and don’t have any standout features to them but aren’t train smash either.
There seems to be a lot of updating work going on to the course of late, something i'm a fan of. Any club trying to better their course gets a thumbs up from me and most of what i've seen from R&CGC has been good, new tee boxes, and bunker improvements look to be positive although something I was disappointed by was the cherry tree removal on the 17th. This was a great short par 4 hole, fantastic for match play as it was risk reward, drivable for the big hitters but with healthy punishment if your drive wasn’t a good one. The removal of the trees has opened this hole up and taken away the risk of going for the green. I don’t like to complain but I didn’t see the vision behind this change. Hopefully as the years roll on things will become more apparent.
For anyone in the South East London this is great option, its easily accessible and I've always found the clubhouse and pro-shop to be warm and friendly as a guest.