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.
Architect Frank Pont kindly provided us with the following comments on the Tandridge restoration project:
“Tandridge was my first client in the UK, and as such will always hold a special place for me. They had put me on their shortlist of architects they considered for their course works because I had been mentioned to them by the author of Creating Classics, the book on Harry Colt. In the end I was fortunate to be selected from a list that included 3 well known UK based architects, and shortly afterwards started work.
Any restoration project has two key components, the analysis and the process part. At Tandridge the analysis part was easy because we had an old aerial picture of the course when it had just opened (quite unique, few other courses have that luxury), plus various on the ground historical pictures of the bunkering, clearly showing the original size and style of the bunkers. We were also lucky that many bunkers had just been grassed over in the past, the equivalent of mothballing, so it was easy to bring them back. Tandridge is quite unique for a Colt course in that it had close to 250 bunkers, more than any other Colt course I have ever seen (even Muirfield has about 100 less). Not only that, but many of the bunkers were absolutely huge. The greatest challenge was to get the committee and the club’s membership to realise what a very special asset they were custodians of, and to convince them that for the real character of their Colt course to re-emerge it was crucial to bring back both a large number of bunkers, but also to restore the bunkers back to their original style and sizes. This was done in various stages, and in the end I presented 6 times to different groups of members, about 300 in total to get their buy in. The construction work itself was fairly straight forward, given that most of the site was quite sandy. This made it possible to do most of the work in late Autumn and early Winter, minimizing disruption for the golfers of the club.
I think the restoration as we did it was a very gutsy move by the club. Adam Lawrence of GCA Magazine called it the most ambitious restoration project underway in the UK when we started, and I think he nailed it with that statement. The good news is that we succeeded and the course now both is a lot more fun to play for the membership (due to the fact that we brought back both strategy and width to the course, giving the players choices), and also has become a lot more compelling visually due to the restored impressive bunkers. Further continued tree removal at strategic spots such as hole 18 and 15 right will only further enhance this.The results have been very satisfying, both in terms of members reactions but also in the rankings. I am confident that in the coming years the course’s reputation will only grow with increased focus on fast and firm conditions and more short grass around the greens. If there is one thing that still needs work on the course it is executing the planned tree removals in certain spots and also bringing back more heather, two steps that could further lift the course yet another notch in quality.”
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.
My thoughts replicate the majority view in that the 2 9s represent very different challenges and topography. The front 9 belies its age and has a very open feel to it which would suggest a modern layout that hasn't yet to fully matured. There are some decent holes (3, 4 and 9 (an excellent par 5) but no world beaters. The slight right to left dogleg par 4, 10th sets a robust tone for the back 9 and is best of the par 4s. The par 3, 13th is a world class par 3 that would not look out of place on any of the Surrey belt greats. The 14th is a par 4 of 475 yards played down a substantial elevation and is spectacular. There are large elevation changes on the final handful of holes (good variety of holes amongst the last half dozen including an excellent finishing hole). I agree with the rankings in that this is not a top 100 course but it remains worth a play. Lovely welcome at the club and excellent food and atmosphere in a traditional clubhouse
What you get at Tandridge is a very professional set up. A beautiful clubhouse greets you on arrival. The practice area is excellent, the greens run fast and true, the fairways are well manicured and the work they’ve done on the bunkers is exceptional. They obviously benefit from an excellent course superintendent at Tandridge.
The terrain across which the course is played however, particularly the front 9 is largely flat and uninspirational. It would be fair to say that they’ve made the most of the land they’ve been given at Tandridge with the standout hole on the outward 9 being the short 150 yard 4th to a raised green surrounded by quintet of bunkers.
Where the course really comes to life is the last handful of holes. After a strong par 3 (miss right at your peril), comes the money shot on the tee of the 14th, the club’s signature hole. Holding your score through these last few holes would take some doing as you’re taken on a windy rollercoaster ride across a vastly more interesting stretch of land. My personal favourite hole on the course comes at the 17th (pictured), which is very similar to the 14th but the fairway landing area is more generous, and the hole generally less penal but still offers the same approach into a raised platform green carved into the side of the hill.
You’ll walk away happy with your round at Tandridge, particularly at the twilight rates offered at the club, but it doesn’t stand up to the heathland courses across Surrey.
I tagged Tandridge onto a visit of some of the very top heathland golf courses in Surrey. And whilst this course couldn't quite match them on a consistent basis throughout the entire 18 holes it was more than worth the trip to go and play. In fact there were a couple of holes that will linger long in the memory!
Tandridge isn't actually a heathland course itself but has the same type of firm and springy turf that the Surrey Sand-belt courses are famed for. It's a beautiful layout carved through mature woodland and exposes itself over varied terrain. It instantly reminded me of a course in Cheshire called Prestbury. It therefore came as no surprise when I discovered that the same esteemed architect, Harry Colt, was the creator of both.
The first nine holes are played over the flatter part of the course but still provide some interesting holes. The first, a short par five, does little more than get you away but the second starts to set the tone with a fade required from the tee before the hole opens up and you play downhill to a lovely green setting with a double level. As mentioned previously the highlight of the third is the drive to avoid the excellent bunkering but the second shot also requires respect with a deep bunker to the right. The short fourth up the hill is protected by dramatic bunkering at both the front and back.
The course not only shifts through the gears on the back nine it is also played over the more interesting ground. Colt has really worked his magic to give the golfer a rollercoaster ride of holes on the second half.
The 10th is a strong hole and the tee-shot at the 11th is fantastic, both solid par fours although what looked like artificial mounding that separated the 10th and 18th didn't quite look right. If the drive at the 12th is more mundane then the second or third shot to this par five more than makes up for it with the green perched on the skyline.
What follows are two wonderful holes. I stood on the tee of the 13th and tried to remember a better par three I have ever played. I struggled. It is just perfect.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
I had the good fortune to play Woking and Tandridge on consecutive days recently. Woking is quite rightly top of the famous 3 W's and a strong benchmark but Tandridge is I feel, now a superior course. The extensive work which has been undertaken over the past few years really has taken the course to another level. The new bunkers in particular add a great defence to what is a relatively short course, especially off the yellows. Played off the tips however, Tandridge will test the best. The greens run fast and true, and many are of a size and undulation that there are no easy two putts. The bar is far more welcoming than in the past (many years back the club had a reputation for being stuffy) and food excellent. Add into the mix a terrific twilight rate (£38) and you have one of the best courses in the area. Very much worth a visit.
A real surprise this. A strong but unremarkable front 9 of classic parkland golf is then followed by a stunning back 9. Views for miles, huge elevation changes, sweeping doglegs, plenty of excellent bunkers, greens in top nick given the winter. And happy to accept visitors on a saturday unlike many of their neighbours. Well worth the trip.
I played Tandridge for the first time yesterday and it really is a "hidden gem". Firstly, considering the weather we have experienced over the past few months, the course was in excellent condition and within a few weeks, they will have some of the finest greens that you will find anywhere.
It is not overly long but it is no pushover because you have to think your way around this course------------ what a change from those courses where you hit the ball as far as you can and then see what you have left. Tandridge is well bunkered and your shot to the green has to be in the right position otherwise the dreaded three putt is on the cards.
You experience the complete variety of holes at Tandridge and it is one those of those courses that when you come off the 18th green, you want to go back out for more,
Well worth a visit!