Royal Blackheath - Kent - England

Royal Blackheath Golf Club,
Court Road,
Eltham,
London,
SE9 5AF,
England


  • +44 (0) 20 8850 1795


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Royal Blackheath

Royal Blackheath Golf Club curiously appeared in a UK magazine's World Top 100 list in 2005. The publication made it clear that their ranking was not based purely on the merits of the course, it was much more about the experience: “England’s oldest club has a stunning clubhouse and a fascinating museum containing hundreds of years’ worth of golfing memorabilia which is worth the visit alone.” We could leave it at that, but we think we’d be doing you and Royal Blackheath an injustice.

It is thought that the Scots formed the Society of Blackheath Golfers in 1608 after James I reunited the thrones. While there is no reason to doubt this, it’s difficult to substantiate as records were destroyed in a late 18th century fire. The earliest remaining facts point to a silver club that was presented to the Honourable Company of Golfers at Blackheath in 1766.

“Now I come to the course of the Royal Blackheath Golf Club, the premier golf club of the world,” wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1925 book The Golf Courses of Great Britain, “and I come to it with a heavy heart because this historic club plays no longer on its historic heath. Hordes of vandal boys playing football have kicked the sacred turf to pieces and made golf impossible. The holes are now no longer cut and the club has moved to Eltham. The Eltham course is in a pretty, park-like spot with admirable greens and a fine old club-house, but it is of course not the heath.”

Blackheath was originally a 7-hole course with competitions usually consisting of three rounds, over 21 holes. As traffic built up on the main A2 road into London, it became impractical and dangerous to drive tee shots across the road, so the club upped sticks and moved to a leafy suburb.

In the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses, authors John F. Moreton and Iain Cumming write: “The appreciation for his talents earned him a commission from the oldest golf club in England, the Royal Blackheath Golf Club, which in 1923 decided to amalgamate with the Eltham Club. Braid had played in a tercentenary tournament on the original course in 1908, and had taken 97 shots over twenty-one holes, one more than J.H. Taylor and the same as Harry Vardon.

A minute of the green committee meeting held on 13th November 1926 refers to the inspection of a plan submitted by Braid and the necessity for him to make a further inspection. Basically, the plan called for modification of the “hummocks” throughout the course and alterations to bunkers, enlarging some, reducing others. This work was entrusted to John R. Stutt.”

In more recent times, a five-year renovation plan developed by architect Ken Moodie and implemented by MJ Abbott and John Nicholson Associates was completed in the autumn of 2019. The work involved building or remodelling seventy-seven bunkers, constructing two new greens, extending another five putting surfaces, creating several new tees and managing the tree inventory with a program of tree thinning/felling.

Highlights included extending the 1st hole to a par five with a new green added; incorporating diagonal drive bunkers on the 2nd; creating a new ditch on the 6th to replace a line of leylandii conifers; reshaping the par three 8th to allow more pin positions; and adding a new green on the par three 16th to make the hole more aesthetically pleasing.

Moodie commented: “To create definition in the fairways, fine fescue rough was cultivated via a cut and collect policy to lower the nutrient levels and give the course an older and more rustic character in keeping with the origins of the club on the heath.”

Undoubtedly the 17th century Eltham Lodge is a worthy and fitting clubhouse for Royal Blackheath Golf Club, providing a decorous ambiance for such a historic club, and the course is enjoying a 21st century renaissance. But if you don't want to play, visitors are welcome to visit the museum, which is probably the finest club museum to be found anywhere in the world.

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Reviews for Royal Blackheath

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Description: Undoubtedly the 17th century Eltham Lodge is a worthy and fitting clubhouse for Royal Blackheath Golf Club, providing a decorous ambiance for such a historic club, and the course is enjoying a 21st century renaissance. Rating: 4.3 out of 10 Reviews: 13
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Phil Ree

Royal Blackheath starts off fairly well. Teeing off by the clubhouse is nice, it’s surprisingly open, the greens ran very well for the time of year, some diagonal bunkers look good and test early tee shots. It ended up feeling rather uninspiring though.

If you strip away the history, the clubhouse & the conditioning (which you’d expect for such a high green fee), it’s a rather mediocre set of holes. Whilst pretty ‘true’ the greens weren’t particularly interesting, some holes felt like you’d played them before and some holes like you were just playing the adjacent hole in reverse. There’s only so much you can do with a mostly flat, rectangular piece of land but unfortunately that makes it one of the less intriguing 18s in the area.

It’s also the least friendly of the royal clubs I’ve visited, and the frequent commuter trains going along the bottom perimeter detract from the experience. That’s not the club’s fault but I never felt I was playing anywhere special, so I’m glad I didn’t pay the nearly three-figure amount they charge in summer.

I liked the finish. 16’s a short hole with the best green at Blackheath, 17 has the deepest bunkers on the course then 18’s a reachable par 4, over a hedge and finishes yards from the clubhouse. It doesn’t justify the green fee though, if you are local there are better options within a 15 minute drive. If you’re visiting London and want a one-off game then a trip to Surrey’s worth the extra effort.

December 09, 2019
4 / 10
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Robert Butlin

Royal Blackheath is quite a grand club. It’s also a decent golf course, to my mind with a better back nine than front nine. A little unusually the course is essentially rectangular, with a bit of a bulge to the north east corner. It’s also quite open, particularly on the 16 holes to the south of the clubhouse. Consequently the course has to work out how to make holes difficult.

It does this by the use of ditches, by the use of bunkers (which are universally good) and, in a few places by the use of water. It doesn’t do it by length, and when compared to a couple of course recently played in the West of London it certainly doesn’t do it with lightning quick greens. Indeed I was perhaps least impressed with the greens, though after a very bobbly first they did tend to run true.

I liked the back nice more because it had holes which required genuine thought, off the tee and for the second shot. This was especially the case with 10 and 11 and then 17. But 17 caused me grief. It’s a broadly straight hole, though favouring a draw off the tee. But a fade or a straight shot does not automatically end up off the fairway. So why, why, do I get faced, on a 390 yard hole and after a drive of maybe 220 yards, with an impossible second shot? I was on the fairway. I could not go up and over the large bunker 140 yards away as the nice Scots pine was overhanging the fairway making the lofted shot too high risk. Trying to hit a low skimmer under the tree would mean finding the bunker. It’s not called the fair way for nothing. If I’d been on the first or second cuts then fine. But I wasn’t.

July 12, 2019
5 / 10
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RM61

Royal Blackheath, Englands oldest club is one of the closest golf clubs to central London. The course has nearly completed a 5 year plan to remove trees, renovate the bunkering and move the 1st green. The first hole which is now a par 5 is a nice opener teeing off right outside the grand old clubhouse. Holes 2 - 4 are strong holes…the 2nd is a really nice uphill left to right par 4 to a raised green with a false front. Holes 5 - 8 are decent but 9 is the standout hole for me on the front 9. The hole which rises slightly uphill has a bunker protecting the left side of the fairway before the fairway rises up over a ridge onto a second level. The green again is set above the player with a false front protecting the slightly miss hit shot and this clever green runs away from the player. The back nine starts with a straightaway par 4 which has a pond situated in the middle of the fairway. Holes 11 - 14 are nice enough before you hit 15 which has a very nice green setting protected by bunkers left and right. Hole 16 is a slightly odd hole the green is not in keeping with any others on the course which is shame as more could have been made of the pond situated to the left of the green. Hole 17 is a brute, uphill around 440 yards over a well crafted bunker complex to a green that slopes severely from left to right. The 18th a short drivable par 4 is nice way to finish the round but be careful with the approach shot as the clubhouse is literally 15ft from the back of the green. I have been playing RB for many years and I like the changes which overall have improved the aesthetics and the playability of the course.

June 06, 2019
6 / 10
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James

Played a few times this summer and although not the hardest course in the world it was beautifully looked after and a lovely place to play golf at the weekend. However played today and discovered they have cut down loads of beautiful old trees all around the course, making it completely defenceless. Just because older members don't like going in the trees what gives them the right chop down old trees. Apparently they are spending £5 million on a five year plan. How about leave the trees and stick in great bunkers and some wonderful water holes!!!!!!

August 16, 2014
2 / 10
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Jason Morris
Having played RBGC on many occasions in club matches over the years I was a little surprised as to some of the comments on the site. I recently (May 2014) organised an event here for 66 category 1 and 2 players and they were all thoroughly impressed with the course and condition. The Royal Blackheath Golf Course - Photo by reviewergreens for the time of year were superb, running very true and quick enough for the tricky pin positions! The course itself is relatively short by today’s standards and only a Par 70 but to give you some idea the CSS’s for our event were 73 and 73 reductions only proving that a course does not have to be overly long to be tough. There are some tough par 4’s notably the 1st and 17th which require accurate tee shots and approaches to small tricky greens and the 2 Par 5’s, although short, require some thought. The Par 3’s are a little uninspiring but overall the course is a delight to play and I would recommend anyone in the area pays it a visit. I am lucky enough to play all over the UK at some of the top ranked courses and I think a few courses have a high ranking on name alone – RBGC is a unique place to go and play golf. Once there, you would not believe you are in London only a few miles from the centre of the capital. The clubhouse is very grand and the only downside for us was the attitude of some of the members of staff. We did find them a little “gruff” to say the least but not enough to ruin our day.
May 21, 2014
6 / 10
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Andy
All golfers, especially those in the south of England should visit. Records tell us this is the oldest club (not course) in the country and at the top of the clubhouse there is a wonderful museum which is home to all sorts of memorabilia dating back 400 years or so to hopefully verify the claim. The clubhouse is a stunner, a beautiful building with many rooms that have so much history and tales of yester-year. The course as it is today has onlyRoyal Blackheath Golf Course - Photo by reviewer ninety years of history after the move from ‘the heath’ to Eltham, something to do with the opening of the A2 road into London. The course cannot be called one of the greats but it is certainly enjoyable but if I am honest there are a lot of holes that can be seen on parkland courses all around the country. The 3rd hole is a strong par-4 at around 420 yards with a hedge across the fairway and probably the best hole on the front nine. The back nine probably just edges the front in terms of being stronger but I am sorry to mention the 16th; a 150 yard par-3 with a massive green and that is about it, where is the trouble? The last two holes are the best on the course by far, the 17th is uphill, with a slight left turn and 420 yards long add in a bank 20 yards short of the green and a par is a tough ask. The closing hole is only 265 yards long and offers an obvious birdie chance, watch out for another hedge and bunkers 60 yards short of the green though. For the experience, this was a 5-ball opinion for me – but for the course, an average 3-ball.
July 11, 2013
4 / 10
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Rainer
I played the course in March 2010. It is a nice course from the city centre of London. The course is in quite good shape and the first three holes are very solid long par 4's. The course has no spectacular holes, but it good value for money and worth a visit when you want to play a quick round in London. Hole 17 is probably the most spectacular hole from my perspective. It is a long uphill par 4 with a massive mound 50 yards in front of the green. The club house is very nice and the own club museum is worth a visit. The greens were quite ok, but I have to keep in mind that it was March.
August 05, 2010
4 / 10
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Pete Sanderson
if in London worth a visit but otherwise save your money, a bit dull really, but in its defence I did play it when wet
August 13, 2009
4 / 10
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Paul Eeles
A very nice track close to central london. On arrival, judging by the cars in the car park I expected a snobby club but was pleasantly surprised. The staff were delightful and the members friendly and welcoming. The course is a tough test of your golfing ability. The first is a great start to the round and the picturesque views around the ourse make it a pleasant trip all round. Well worth a visit.
July 30, 2009
6 / 10
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Ben
I played here with a member yesterday on a glorious Sunday afternoon, there had been a lot of rain the previous day but the course stood up very well to it. We had a very enjoyable round, the greens were quick despite the rain and very receptive as you can imagine. All in all the course is a very well maintained parkland course. My only slight criticism would be the consistency of the sand in the bunkers but that is acceptable at this time of year. I especially enjoyed holes 3, 13, 17 & 18 (nervous approach to the 18th as the club house is so close). I ended up using every club in my bag, which gives you an idea of the variety of shots you have to play. The clubhouse in spectacular even more so than Moor Park I would say, the drive in is pleasant and the changing room facilities are very nice. I prefer links golf myself but this is a very nice park land course, 15 mins from central London.
November 03, 2008
6 / 10
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