Considering John Frederick Abercromby had no experience of course design, the scratch golfer – known benevolently as Aber – left one hell of mark on the Surrey countryside.
If there’s a testament to his skill, it’s that more than 80 years after his death in 1935, the course has largely stood the test of time.
That’s down to the nature of the land, to some extent. Built on a heavily wooded hill, it caused huge protests and, according to the great golf writer Bernard Darwin, required “500 navvies to clear 1500 trees and 700 barrow loads of stones”.
When the Old Course opened, though, it soon proved popular. Ravines, superb bunkering among the heathland and the need to find the right spot continue to make the challenge as relevant to this day.
It found favour with many of the leading figures of the time.
Darwin was an honorary member and King George VI became the patron of the club in 1937 – leading to it being informally called ‘Royal Addington’.
It was also a special place for the most famous writer of the day, PG Wodehouse.
The creator of Jeeves and Wooster often weaved golf into his stories.
Even though he spent most of his time in America, especially after the war, he once wrote of the savage 30 foot bunker on the 6th: “Anyone wishing to write to the author should address all correspondence to: PG Wodehouse, c/o the sixth bunker, The Addington Golf Club, Croydon, Surrey.”
Players have to avoid a ravine with the second shot and sitting at the bottom of the heather, close to a bridge, is the dreaded trap.
Bridges play a rather crucial role on two sensational par 3s on the back nine.
The 13th is 229-yards off the back tees. According to the legendary golf writer Henry Longhurst, it’s “with the exception of the 5th at Pine Valley, the greatest one-shot hole in inland golf”.
Hitting the green here is achievement enough. You can’t miss right – a heavy copse of trees lie there – or left, as two rather dangerous bunkers are waiting.
If 13th is inspiring, then 17 takes it up another notch. It’s 175 yards over a ravine and an amazing sight in the height of summer.
They form part of six par 3s in a testing par 69. You’ll need to be at the top of your game to master The Addington.
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