Wrotham Heath Golf Club is a real mixture of a course. It sits on the sand belt which runs along the old A25 just outside Sevenoaks. It started as a nine-hole course but due to declining member numbers the club decided to invest in some available land which they gave to Donald Steel to place a golf course on. This was a wise choice as the land they bought was quite majestic, deeply wooded with chestnut, pine and oak and very undulating.
There is probably no other person more capable than Donald of making the best use of England’s natural heath and links land. The new holes are only just over 10 years old but you would have thought Colt laid them out some hundred years ago such is their natural feel. The course now mixes the new in with the old but mainly the new are in the early middle of the round and it is the predominant reason for visiting the course.
The course starts and ends its front nine in a field in front of the clubhouse. From the view of the first hole and the two other holes that share this field you will wonder why this has been nominated or indeed how they can seriously have the word Heath in their name. You will realise why though as the course starts to build on the second and then really comes alive on the third. What a hole this is, more reminiscent of The Addington than in fitting with the early view of this course, it is a par five with a narrow fairway and deep chestnut woods either side. You drive off over a deep hollow onto the narrow fairway, the second shot is then probably 200 yards before the fairway drops precipitously down to a green perched on a little rise at the bottom of the hill. In fairness you would probably play two good five irons and a seven iron and it is not necessarily a very fair hole but it is great fun to play.
The next four holes then wind their way through heather and woodland with blind drives and awkward doglegs. You finally have some respite at the turn as you return to the front field before it once again becomes a heathland course until you reach the 18th back in the field. Apart from the few holes in the front field accuracy is an absolute must, miss the fairways and you are in the woods, bracken or heather. It is worth saying the course is still in transition and there has been a tree clearance programme underway to give more space and a chance for the heather to grow. The heather at the moment is a sprinkling with only a few of the holes really having a lot of noticeable heather. However if they get it right and the heather returns it will be a beautiful course in many places. If they were brave enough to go for serious heather planting on the front field then they really would have a course which would jump up the rankings.
Only around the 13th and 16th where the fairways cross do you have a feeling that the course has been squeezed into its space (these are some of the other old holes). However some of the magnificent views, from the new nine and some of the old nine, make this a worthwhile trip for a reasonable green fee. Even if it is not a complete enough course to make it anywhere near the Top 100 it is a quirky and fun gem of a course with a warm welcome, I really enjoyed my day here and will enjoy returning some day soon.
Article by Carl Tushingham
Whilst it’s never going to be on the radar for the bucket-list golfer, Wrotham Heath is an enjoyable, sporty course and offers much more to a visiting golfer than what you’d expect given its lowly position in the Kent county rankings.
For sure, there’s a scattering of very ordinary holes at Wrotham Heath. The opening and closing stretch of land is typical flat treelined parkland that you find at most inland courses up and down the country and I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the holes where you cross the road on the back nine either, but boy, there’s a few gems out there too that make Wrotham Heath worth the visit. I’m mainly referring to the elegant and undulating heathland stretch on the front nine that starts at the third. It’s a shame that this hole comes so early in the round as it’s undoubtedly the real standout hole. It’s reminiscent of a couple of par fives at the Addington with position being key; a well struck five-iron is all you’ll need from the tee with the primary strategy being to avoid your ball ending up on either side of the heavily banked fairway. The next shot is then played completely blind with an enormous drop-shot to the green. The fourth hole then reminded me of some of the early holes at West Sussex as again, an iron off the tee is the smart play here leaving a wedge into a green that’s surrounded by pine trees. The 5th is an absolute gem of a par three played between a steep heathery valley before a sharp dogleg par four takes you to the end of this glorious stretch before you climb up and out of the heathland.
The par three 7th then skirts this heathland stretch, playing over a gulley in front of a raised green that proves deadly if you push your approach shot right. 8, 9 and 10 take a break and return back to the parkland whilst 11 and the short 12th again return to skirt with the more interesting heathland stretch of property. Of the remaining holes, 16 offers the most interest, it’s yet another peculiar dogleg hole where an iron off the tee should suffice before hitting up to a raised green sitting proudly on top of a hill. The walk to the next tee is some hike, but the 17th tee provides glorious views of the surrounding hills, albeit the hole itself is relatively uninspiring from the tee. The green however is surrounded by hidden pot bunkers, so raising the teeing ground could bring the hazards into view thus making a simple improvement to the appearance of the hole.
Overall, I enjoyed Wrotham Heath. It’s full of quirk where positional play is king and there are pockets of the course where the quality of golf reaches a very high standard, it’s just a shame the course couldn’t be more consistent throughout. Sometimes I’d prefer to write a review without providing a rating, and this is one such case, so please excuse the three-ball score as admittedly the course deserves better. An average this course is not, I just can’t justify putting the course alongside other more superior courses that I’ve put in the four-ball category.