Played by NCG: Knole Park
Reason for a Knole Park Golf Club review
The American architect Tom Doak told me it was on his list to play the next time he was in England. I was ashamed to admit that I had never been either and promised him I would put that right while researching for England’s Top 100 Courses 2018.
Where is Knole Park Golf Club?
Knole Park Golf Club is near Sevenoaks in Kent and is easily accessible from the M25. It’s on National Trust land adjacent to Knole Park itself – a 15th-century country house and deer park.
You will certainly encounter some deer on your way round the course and that only adds to the vibe.
What to expect
JF Abercromby-designed courses are few and far between. He created The Addington, Worplesdon and Coombe Hill, as well as Knole Park. He was a bold architect, who made dramatic use of undulating golfing ground.
Knole Park Golf Club is entertaining and engaging from start to finish. Its six short holes ensure you are always kept on your toes. The unusual topography, plus the bouncy, quick-draining turf, ensure you need to think carefully abut your clubbing and shot selection.
The par of 70 is extremely exacting from the new back tees that were installed for the hosting of the Tillman Trophy last summer. They stretched Knole Park to 6,690 yards. When you think that includes a sextet of par 3s, it’s a serious test.
There is a barely a flat hole on the course yet such is Abercromby’s use of the terrain that playing uphill only once becomes irksome – on the climb up to the par-5 15th green.
I really enjoyed the 3rd. Standing on the green looking back down to the fairway below, I just knew I was in for a treat. It’s a medium-length par 4 and the drive is blind, over a crest and down into the bottom. You then play uphill to the attractively sited green. It’s bunkerless but protected by oak and beech trees.
My best bit
The 14th is a left-to-right dogleg that slopes away downhill in tempting fashion. I suspected it was the kind of dogleg that you can get carried away with and so I kept the discipline to hit up the left towards the higher ground. My reward was this incredibly appetising view for my second shot. It’s a lovely hole, entirely typical of Knole Park.
What to look for at Knole Park Golf Club
The deer, for a start, and the pure greens. If architecture interests you, just admire the way Abercromby uses the slopes and hills to make interesting holes rather than allowing them to detract from the overall standard of the course. Here’s the uphill par-3 5th, where the tee on one side of a valley is just high enough to give a view of the green on the other side and make this an attractive short hole.
When I go back
I’ll treat the short par-4 13th with more respect and find a better spot off the tee. With water short and right I hit my drive pin-high and left. I thought that would leave me with a chip and a putt for a birdie. In fact I had no shot, or at least not without running a very cute chip-and-run through a hollow and up a hill.
I got it to 25 feet and promptly three-putted for a painful bogey.