Concealed inside a patchwork of residential streets, Sundridge Park Golf Club is something of a hidden jewel in the suburbs of Bromley, with its 36-hole golf facility located less than ten miles from Big Ben, as the crow flies. The club might be a little out of sight but it’s easily accessible from Central London to the north and from the M25 motorway to the south.
Formed in 1901, Sundridge Park operates two championship golf courses. The East is the more challenging of the two layouts and it was used as a regional qualifying venue for the Open during the mid-1990s. The shorter West, though it doesn’t have the same tournament pedigree, complements its younger sibling beautifully with all the charm you’d expect to find on a century-old layout.
Willie Park Junior advised on setting out the first 27-hole layout at the club, comprising an 18-hole course for gentlemen and a 9-hole track for ladies. On 25th April 1903, four days after the Ladies’ course was unveiled, the main 18-hole course was officially opened by James Braid and Sandy Herd when they played an exhibition match to mark the occasion.
Braid returned a decade later to remodel the course, lengthening the layout by altering three holes and installing forty-eight new bunkers, all of which were constructed by Fred Hawtree, who was then the club’s head greenkeeper, At the time, the course was described as “sporting, difficult rather than easy” with “magnificent greens.”
When the East course was developed by Sir Guy Campbell and C.K. Hutchinson at the start of the 1930s, the West course was also modified and seven new holes (the 3rd to the 9th) were added to the layout on new ground and the redesigned course opened for play on 20th May 1933 with a 36-hole exhibition match between Percy Alliss and Alf Padgham.
Nowadays, the course can be stretched to 6,019 yards from the back tees, playing to a par of 69, with only two par fives on the scorecard at holes 6 and 11. The River Quaggy comes into play at the 1st, cutting across the fairway 100 yards in front of the green, and this tributary of the River Ravensbourne is crossed several more times during the round.
The back nine finishes with three terrific holes: the short par four 16th offers a real birdie chance for those who don’t get too greedy off the tee, the 17th is the longest par three on the course with the strongest short hole stroke index, and the tight par four 18th rises steadily uphill and slightly left to a heavily sand-protected home green.
Sundridge Park is a 36 hole layout which is hidden in the busy suburb of Bromley, South East London. The West course is a rolling Parkland course that uses undulations and thick trees to navigate you through 18 holes.
The first thing you notice on arrival at Sundridge is how friendly the staff are. You are made to feel a member for the day from the initial welcome in the Pro Shop, to the attentive clubhouse staff, to the starter who is happy to talk you through the course and was very honest about the winter conditions that the course finds itself in.
Sundridge is built on what they call “London clay” and is very susceptible to the slightest of rain. When I visited we hadn’t had an awful lot of rain in the UK and some holes, particularly the 10th were barely playable. We lost a ball in the fairway and I could feel my shoes getting heavier as I picked up mud down the fairway. This is a spring/summer course and if wanting to visit Sundridge, your experience will be bettered by waiting for these seasons.
The course itself has some very nice holes indeed. The first is a nice opener with a downhill tee off played towards a stream, then back uphill for the approach. The 6th is an extremely fun Par 5 which boomerangs back on itself. Thick trees line the fairway as it cambers right downhill to a traffic light alerting players when it’s safe to hit your descending approach shot into a green. Certain pin positions will require you to lay up short of the green and allow the ball to trickle on. The 8th is the toughest drive on the course and once you have removed the crampons needed to ascend to the tee box you’ll see just how accurate a tee shot is required to find a fairway running away uphill to the green.
The back nine is much more open and I found it to be less interesting than the front. There is much less variety and I struggle to single out a particular hole worthy of mention.
This is a good club worthy of a visit if in the area. I look forward to returning to play the East, but I will certainly wait until the summer to allow the course to be seen in its best light.
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The West - as the lower ranked of the two courses here - makes up a super 36 hole day out at a fantastic Club / clubhouse set up. We had no problem getting out on both rounds, although not allowed to book tee times and there being various times that different size groups should tee off from which tee - we were enjoying our vert nice lunch on the ample patio awaiting the next two ball time lot and watched 2 x 2 balls go off at a time they shouldn' have, so we (with the starters permission) followed them ?! Were I lucky enough to a member here I would usually want to play the East as the main course, although I actually enjoyed the West more. It is difficult to express, it is clearly the "second" course of the two BUT it has more interesting holes in my opinion ???
As other reviewers have said, the front nine is strong with the iconic views of the city from green 4 and tee 9.
Unfortunately the 18th was closed for drainage works all day but looked good finish.
14th is a good par 3
The start of this course is wonderful and by someway better than that of the East course, in fact this front-nine is difficult to fault in terms of variety, quality (greens and presentation) and fun to play. The strength starts at the 1st hole – a big par-4, downhill and then uphill over a ditch hazard, this is SI-7 and with SI-5 (another par-4) at the second, this course has a strong opening. Two good looking par-3’s close together at the 3rd and the 5th with the later as pretty as a picture and at only 140 yards is there for the taking! The 6th is a par-5 and one of the best parkland long holes I have played for a long while; 520 yards, mature trees on both flanks, no bunkers at all and a little downhill then turning right towards the green halfway down the fairway, just a delight. The 3rd short hole comes at the 7th and then the toughest par-4 on the course is at the 8th, this hole is severely uphill and a toughie; it is worth the trouble as by the time you get to the 9th tee, take time to get your breath but also to take in the vista of south-east London – this is a reminder that London Bridge is only 9 miles from here. The 9th tee shot can flatter even the most modest length of hitter, the 8th hole uphill becomes the big downhill now and a 300 yard drive is likely for most. Both nines are around 3000 yards, so a pretty even split with one less par-3 on the back-9 giving a par of 69 for the course.
The back nine is not as strong; if it was we would have a Kent Top-5 contender but it is not to be – I am sure that there could be a way to make a composite of the best of this course with the best from the East which would be a great initiative. The issues that the West’s back-9 has is that it is much more open, holes are a little close to each other and the variety drops – still enjoyable with the conditioning and presentation as good but the first half of the course has the wow factor. Favourite hole on the home nine holes would be the last; six bunkers at the green at the end of an uphill par-4, just a little reminiscent of those first nine holes.
If we ignore some of the real big named courses close to London, I would say Sundridge Park is the best of the rest as a 36 hole club so close to the capital.