I thought I had set my expectations appropriately ahead of playing Westerham, the #27 ranked Kent course (2018 numbers); wow this is so much better than that position. Many courses built in the 1990’s get a poor billing as many were put together cheaply and on ground not that suited for a golf course, Westerham opened in 1997 and is not that typical 90’s style.
Here we have a strong design with so many exciting holes most framed by mature oaks, pines and the occasional silver birch, the latter being carefully managed as these are potentially a menace to golf course care. The land the course is built on is so exciting with elevation changes a plenty.
This is not a long course at 6300 yards but there is obvious care from the green-staff as the whole course looks a picture. So here we have the win/win situation; a strong design that is presented superbly.
After a couple of scorable par-4’s, the first par-5 is at the 3rd; just at 500 yards with the last 100 yards turning a little right with a narrowing approach. The 4th is the first par-3; 161 yards and little uphill and is a ‘hole-a-like’ (holes that remind me of others on other courses) – think of the 14th on the West course at Wentworth and this is similar. Quite quickly there is another hole-a-like at the 6th; this is a 401 yard dog-leg to the right with a fairway cambering to the left – now think of the updated design at Adare Manor as this is like the brilliant 13th there.
The closing hole on the front nine is 336 yards and downhill and requires an exacting approach over water to the green in front of the clubhouse.
The back nine starts well – with no back to back same par holes until the 15th. I really enjoyed the par-3 11th – downhill with three bunkers protecting in perfect positions. The 12th is the only hole on the course that I didn’t really warm to but I understand why it is like it; an uphill dog-legging 309 yard hole that requires plenty of attention from the tee (danger to the left). The hole will be made to look better as the woodland management program continues – this hole is next on the to do list.
The 14th is one of my favourite holes – a par-4 at 366 yards, slightly uphill from the tee and then approaching across a valley with bunkers 40 yards short of the green – tough hole but so good.
The 15th is another great hole, this one at 400 yards and from a high-tee with a fairway that drops towards the green from 100 yards out – don’t see this type of hole often and this stands out in a good way.
The 18th hole like the 9th is a downhill par-4 to a water protected green, the finale a little longer at 409 yards. Really nice touch at the tee and also at 150 yards out, plaques marking Ron Noades involvement here along with the other courses in the Altonwood Group before he passed in 2013.
My lasting thoughts are that Westerham is worth a visit and will be enjoyed by most. The staff on and off the course are first class and dedicated to making the experience as good as it can be. Glad to see the new county position of #19.
Date: November 20, 2019