Tandridge Golf Club was founded back in 1924 and the genius architect Harry Colt designed the course. Today’s layout is still clearly a Colt classic with wonderful steep faced bunkering, raised plateaux greens and visionary use of the natural terrain. However only one third of Colt’s original 300 bunkers remain in play. “Two new Kentish courses deserve a word.” Wrote Bernard Darwin in The Golf Courses of Great Britain. “One is Tandridge, which, I know, holds a high place in the affections of its creator, Mr. Colt. Here, besides pretty views, are good turf, sharp sand, a bold country that is not too tiring and some very good holes.”
The 21st century Tandridge measures 6,509 yards from the back tees and par is set at 71. It’s by no means a championship test, but it’s a sporting course for the low handicapper and eminently playable for the average player. The layout weaves through extensive mature woodland where some 45 species of trees add a visual treat and plenty of definition to the holes. Through the gaps in the trees and from the higher ground, spectacular views of the North Downs and the rolling Kent and Sussex countryside unfold. Tandridge genuinely is as pretty as a picture.
Going out, the topography is relatively flat but the golfing test is nevertheless significant with a par five and two challenging par fours to start. The drama really starts on the homeward nine which delightfully changes elevation as holes traverse the hills. “One of the best par threes in Surrey” is how the 223-yard 13th has been described. The green is surrounded by trees and ringed around with bunkers. There’s also an alarming fall off to the right hand side of the green which will kick the ball deep into the woods if you miss the green on this side.
Tandridge has quite rightly earned a reputation as a traditional but very friendly member’s club that specialises in society and corporate days but also welcomes individual visitors. Clubs such as Tandridge are few and far between and those with better cuisine are as rare as the dodo.
Frank Pont was engaged by the club in 2009 to oversee a course restoration project which lasted the best part of a decade. Tim Lobb was then appointed in 2019 to continue the course evolution work that was started by Frank Pont. The club provided us with these comments from Tim Lobb in the spring of 2022:
"My first task, along with my team, was to understand the history of Tandridge. This we did by gathering extensive historical data on the course, including aerial photography from English Heritage. Along with our own drone aerial mapping, this allowed us to look back some seventy years and see how the course and design had changed over that period. Quite clearly, many of the fairways had narrowed, trees encroached onto the playing surfaces and the original Colt design compromised.
Our aim was, and is, to bring back the Colt design and philosophy that had been lost over the years – the risk and reward that is essential on any top-class golf course – whilst ensuring that it meets the standards of all modern courses from a construction, playability and maintenance view. This is particularly important when considering the bunkers, which will number around eighty by the time our work is done.
We decided to adopt a hole-by-hole strategy to minimise disruption to members. As of 2022, despite the difficulties encountered through covid, we have already completed work on several holes which have been upgraded and/or reinstated to the original design philosophy. This is evident on the 1st , 2nd, 5th and 13th and we have have opened up some beautiful views that had been lost for decades due to a lack of woodland management. A woodland management plan is now in place, under the watchful eye of John Nicholson.
In the winter of 2022 a new and fully comprehensive irrigation system is being installed across the course, the practice holes and the turf nursery by Lakes & Greens. This will only enhance the condition and reputation of an already superb golf course”.
Not a secret anymore, I suspect! I am lucky enough to have a friend who is a member here, and view it as one of the most impressive and bravest renovation/improvement projects for a golf course in England.
When I was lucky enough to play here 2 weeks or so ago, the greens were the best I have putted all year, and, in places as fast as you will see in the UK. This cannot be unconnected to the vast amount of tree clearance work that has been done here, much of it also opening up beautiful views from the back nine.
No-one should think this is just a conditioning review though! This is a wonderful layout. No hole by hole review for me, but simply an attempt to highlight some examples of terrific holes to be found here:
2nd, with a green site on multiple tiers cut into a hill, requiring careful thought on approach not to leave an automatic three-putt.
4th, a par three to grace any course anywhere, with a green benched into a hill, where long is utterly dead, and yet the hole is accessible to a long handicapper clever enough to miss front right, and a good enough putter to pass the A-Level exam of two putting from there.
13th, with its massively inviting drop shot tee shot, and one of the most perplexing second shots you could wish to see to a green above you, and dreadful problems if you miss on three of four sides.
Perhaps the cleverest of all, the 11th, which arguably looks almost nondescript, but where the perched-up green site reveals itself to you as one rejecting all but the most well thought out shot on each side. Options of low or high, of course, but such thought and precision required. I have rarely seen a more deceptive, or cleverer, second shot hole.
Only the forced lay-up 16th, and the slightly unattractive tee shot at the 18th (good hole though this is) stop me ranking this even higher.
Oh, and, not that these things matter much to me, a lovely clubhouse that has character without being stuffy, a thriving club, and superb food.
This is a great place, and is plainly committed to getting better. If you get a chance, go in a heartbeat.
I'd heard terrific things about Tandridge, so it was high in my list of courses to tick off. I was not disappointed.
I played on a beautiful, sunny, and hot Friday afternoon, and the course was in perfect condition. The lush, manicured fairways led to quite brilliant greens, all marshalled by some fabulous monster bunkers. Absolutely brilliant.
I must say, the front 9 (although very nice) tees you up for the special 'back 9. The undulation, panoramic shots, distant views across the course and well beyond, made for some sublime golfing.
My favourite holes were 14 and 17, and the finish at 18, with its 5 monster bunkers was golfing art. 14 playing down a ravine, then up to an elevated green, required thought, and execution.
Although not my favourite parkland course (Woburn, Wentworth and Bearwood Lakes all significantly better), Tandridge is just an excellent course, that you should find the time to play.
What a course!
I played of 14.0 and played it on the hottest day of the year so far - May 2022 - which helps.
We started with a well presented and tasty lunch in the traditional wooden plaque clubhouse.
The course was challenging and is up there with some of the best courses I've played. I would rank it higher than Forest of Arden, The Belfry (Brabazon), Woburn (Duke's), Kington, Saunton (West), Celtic Manor (Montgomerie), Pyle & Kenfig, Lough Erne (Faldo), and Crowborough Beacon.
At the time of this review, it's ranked 92nd in England which I feel is harsh, it's definitely worthy of a higher spot.
The last time I felt this good after 18 (I didn't score well at Tandridge at +9 net) was after playing Little Aston, both of which were well beyond my expectations.
When I've played the likes of St Andrew's (New), Royal Portrush, Royal C Down, R Porthcawl and Saunton (East), I've loved every second, the difference being that I have expected to have done so.
I'd never heard of Tandridge until a week ago, I won't forget this course, ever!
A great traditional course and very accessible from London. There is always a fairway to hit but greens are elevated, challenging and surrounded with bunkers. The course is well-treed, less hilly at first, but the back nine rolls and dips with the lovely countryside. The 14th is justifiably one of the most beautiful holes in golf but each time I play I find a new favourite. Recently, it's the 4th, a par 3 and never easy, and the 12th, one of the toughest drives on the course.
Two quite different 9's but I enjoy the variety. The conditions were very good and the food was excellent.
An understated gem in easy reach of London and also Gatwick and Heathrow. Very welcoming club with an outstanding layout with a superb mix of challenges. Lovely views over the Downs. Greens were very fast when I played and required some skill in reading. Rewards playing with a member if possible, if not get the course guide for tips on how to make the best score.
Food and service excellent. Nice terrace if the weather allows.
Having recently played Tandridge again I have to say that the recent repair works and improvements they have made to the fairways have done wonders to restore the course back to the high standards that it was a couple of years ago. There are many great holes at Tandridge. The second hole is a wonderful dogs leg right which opens up for a difficult second shot onto a challenging two tiered green. The 10th is another fantastic whole. A long par four with big sweeping bunkers and heather covering the middle of the fairway.
The standout two holes have to be the 200 yard par three 13th and the long par four 14th. The 13th must be one of the best long par threes I have played. It has great views to the right, which, if you go that way will ensure your scorecard is ruined due to the steep dropoff. The 14th plays down this slope and you have a long drive with fantastic view overlooking the clubhouse and the rolling hills of the North downs. The second shot plays uphill to a challenging green guarded by bunkers.
I think Tandridge is definitely worthy of a higher ranking than it currently has, of the several courses that I have played which are rated higher than Tandridge, I think it is a worthy contender, if not better, and should be inside the top 50 in England on this website at least.
All in all a great course to play, the green keeping team have done a magnificent job and I look forward to playing there again soon.
The course is played over hilly rolling terrain, with elevated tee boxes, raised undulating greens, lots of things for a golf junkie to get excited about.
More so over the back 9, where all of this goes up a few notches. The par 3 13th is a fine one and I was a big fan of the par 4 14th, with excellent views and a sweeping, inviting fairway some 100 feet or so below the tee, begging to be hit, before an uphill approach to an undulating well bunkered green.
The greens were excellent, but the fairways were shocking I’m afraid to say. They had leatherjacket apparently, which I gather is not uncommon at the moment, but they were suffering particularly badly from it. So much so that even with their 6 inch pick and place rule, a patch of decent grass was not always readily available. This patchiness on the fairways was evident on all but one fairway incidentally.
I assume the club are doing their best to rectify the problem. Sadly we were only informed of the issue when the starter gave it a brief mention during his rules sermon, less than 5 mins before tee off; nothing was mentioned on the phone and I could not see anything on their website pre visit.
I think it would be both courteous and considerate in future for the club to be forthcoming and inform prospective visitors of such a big issue before they commit to pay, travel and play there. Guests will obviously notice this during their round and I’m sure be very disgruntled (as we were) if not pre warned. A great shame as I imagine the course to be a very good one when they get this all sorted.
As a member, it was a great pity to hear of your concern about the state of the fairways. A combination of leatherjackets and drought earlier this year has had a huge effect and you are absolutely right - when we opened after lockdown those fairways were appalling. I'm not an official of the club, so I can't speak on its behalf. But as a member I'm really sorry you weren't contacted beforehand to be pre-warned. The good news is that we have recently appointed a new Head Greenkeeper and the initial results are spectacular. Fast, true greens, lush aprons and immaculate tee boxes. Three of the fairways have been brought back to life and the rest are being worked on systematically. The transformation is really quite remarkable. There's a plan in place to have them all restored by next year. Please do come back and give the club another chance. Drop me a line ([email protected]) and I'll do what I can to get you a complimentary green fee or -at the very least - you can play 18 holes as my guest.
Thank you Graham, very nice of you to reach out. I’ll drop you an email.
I have always enjoy my visits to Tandridge with its friendly staff, excellent lunch and the course which is has evolved over the past few years. The overall condition of the course was good with the greens in excellent shape but the fairways and greens surrounds were still recovering from the hot summer. There are a few standout holes such as 2 a long par 4 that requires a fade off the tee which will leave you a long iron to a two tier green set about 50 yards below the player. The 4th is an excellent par three that plays slightly up hill framed by bunkers. The green which slopes from back left to front right requires the golfer to pick the correct club otherwise they will be left with a difficult sloping putt. I also like hole 5 although with the introduction of the back tee it takes out some of the fairway bunkers and leaves the player with a long blind second shot. As you start the back 9 hole 10 is a cracker that suits a draw from the tee before a mid to long iron approach to the green which slopes from back to front. The 11th has had a lot of work carried out especially around the green. The removal of trees gives a real sense of space around the green but the introduction of semi rough which circles all but the entrance to the green ruins what could be some excellent run off areas. Hole 13 and 14 could grace any of the best heathland courses in Surrey. Hole 13 is a testing par 3 which if you miss right will ruin your card! The tee shot on 14 from the elevated tee needs to be long and straight if the player wants to react the that runs diagonally from left to right and slopes heavily from back to front. I also like the 18th another strong par 4 that dog legs from left to right which finishes in front of the clubhouse. The bunkering at Tandridge seems a little hap hazard with rough style bunkers in the middle of fairways (16) and clean edged bunkers in the rough (approach to 6). The removal of trees gives Tandridge a nice open feel but with no primary rough the holes lose a little definition. If you get the opportunity Tandridge is certainly worth a visit and i believe deserves its place in the English Top 100.
I played Tandridge on a January and went into it thinking it would be a good course in fairly decent condition but not one to rave about. However it exceeded my expectations massively as it was in way better condition than I would expect for a golf course in the winter. The greens were rolling really well, the fairways and tees were nice and the bunkers were filled with sand,which in my opinion is a very important part of a good golf course. The club itself was very nice with an old fashioned clubhouse which looked beautiful and the course was excellent. Holes like the 14th, 17th and 18th were all particularly good looking and the par 3 3rd hole was also a fantastic hole having many bunkers around the green with heather on the top of them. The golf course was great and it was definitely a trip that I really enjoyed and one I would love to do again!
Having played Tandridge every now and then over the years it's a great example of how a course can improve with the right thinking, not overly long, but with the addition of a few tees and bunkers, changing angles adds a much more strategic approach to play. it's a beautiful place to play and have lunch !
The standout holes for me are the 10th, 13th and obviously 14th, it possibly lacks a really good par 5, as both are a little 'gimmicky' which means it drops a little in my rankings, but makes up for it with a great variety of par 4's, in both length and shape.
Well worth a trip.