The course at Westerham Golf Club was designed by David Williams and opened for play in 1997. It was constructed with USGA standard greens and fully irrigated fairways that allow play to continue all year round.
I thoroughly enjoyed my recent round at Westerham in a society day, I must admit to being surprised given its lowly ranking on this site how good it was, possibly its short length is held against it, I would certainly rank it higher than the likes of Hever Castle and Nizels. I played on a mild and breezy October afternoon and we were fortunate with the weather which only made the visit even more agreeable. Laid out on the North Downs near the M25 it is a decent challenge as the holes and rise and fall over the hillside. Even though it’s a comparatively young track opening in 1997 it feels a lot more mature as the holes wind their way through tall tree lined fairways. It eases you into the round with a couple short par 4’s & 5’s before the challenge begins to toughen, it’s not a course where you can hit driver on every hole, there are a good number of tight doglegs which demand precision with a long iron or else your approach shot is likely to be compromised by trees, you can of course try and bomb one with the driver but more often than not that will cost you. Approach shots are into relatively small greens which have some severe undulation built into them and some steep run off areas to punish errors, land in the wrong place and expect a 3 putt, the 11th green being a great example. A downhill par 3 with a shelf on the right hand side, land it on the slope and your ball will feed down to the hole for a kick in birdie, land it on the top (as I did) and you’ll need the pin to stop your ball rolling off into the distance. Given it was mid-October and we’d just come off a very dry September the condition was great, the only disappointment was the slow pace of the greens, they were really slow. I’m not sure if was because the club had applied some feed recently or too keep the pace of play up. The back 9 toughens up considerably, much tighter with tougher green complexes and thankfully no uphill par 3’s (one of the worst design features that can afflict a course!). Combine the course with a great club house and it pushing towards toward top 10 in Kent status.
Westerham feels like it’s on the very upper end of cheap and cheerful. The greens are well manicured, the facilities are good, the clubhouse has excellent views and there is value to be found. They could get away with charging more, I thought it was in better condition than The Addington which is owned by the same group.
The course itself is fairly dramatic, there are lots of hills, grand old trees plus ponds in front of 9 and 18 by the clubhouse. There is a nice mixture of trees to visit, the back part of the property is more coniferous so it feels mature and a little heath-like, obviously without the hard bounces and heather. The par 3 13th particularly looks like it’s been there far longer than 25 years.
It’s certainly a pleasant place to stay for a few hours but I didn’t find it a fun or inspiring course to play. I’d honestly rather play 18 holes with water than with trees and Westerham can be a slog if you are slightly offline. I have played harder courses but this layout doesn’t give you many options and it gets a bit repetitive, even if your punch-out game is top notch.
Overall then I’d recommend it if you are local but one visit might be enough for you. It was for me.