I have had a long standing game arranged with my oldest and best friend at Kingswood Golf and Country Club, located in Tadworth, Surrey, very close to the world famous Walton Heath Golf Club and next door to Surrey Downs. The journey there was fraught with the M25 struggling to cope but once there, I received a warm welcome from the receptionist and professional. The locker room was spacious, with a large number of visitor lockers available. Having got there early and to get the journey out of my body, I ventured to the practice ground. It's a fairly small range and if I had a gripe, it was that the quality of the balls wasn't great. However, it did the job and I was actually finding the centre of the club on a regular(ish) basis.
I wandered back to the clubhouse, as the practice ground is set a five minute walk away, past the tenth tee and halfway house. I met up with my friend and an old acquaintance from a previous society day, paid my green fee, discounted to £33 and got ready to do battle with the course.
The course was designed by the famous designer James Braid and he oversaw the work while serving as head professional at Walton Heath and it opened in 1928. He was also responsible for the likes of Carnoustie, Gleneagles and Hoylake. Kingswood has undergone a re-design by Howard Swan and the course now boasts ninety nine bunkers strategically placed to capture errant drives and misplaced approach shots. Even off the yellow tees it's a long and testing examination (Kingswood Scorecard).
It's a parkland layout with mature trees lining both side of the fairway and along with the excellent positioning of fairway bunkers, asks a lot of questions on each tee shot. Get it right and the hole is always there in front of you with nothing hidden to trick you. Miss the fairway and while the rough isn't penal in terms of depth, which makes finding errant shots relatively easy, the number of trees ensure that even if you have a full swing, there isn't an easy route back into play. The greens are relatively generous, well guarded, and although they weren't frightening in terms of speed, there were subtle breaks on every one. They were extremely firm and even well struck irons would release on landing and so it made club selection difficult.
The first in a gentle opener over the brow of a hill. I got a good opening drive away splitting the fairway which settled the nerves. Despite it being a Friday afternoon, at the start of the bank holiday, there wasn't too much pressure in terms of the number of players and the pace of play was good. I had my normal array of good, bad and indifferent shots on the front nine. We stopped at a pleasant half way hut by the tenth tee and enjoyed a very nice bacon bap and drink. The break and food did nothing for my game and I struggled early on over the back nine.
The back nine is longer than the front including a stretch of long, testing holes from the fourteenth to the sixteend, that run along the side of a valley and which finishes with a 430 yard par four. Playing into a breeze it would require two lusty blows to get home. As I missed the fairway, the green wasn't on my agenda.
The last hole plays uphill to a green set in front of the clubhouse and so any putting indiscretions are played out in front of a gallery but it's a wonderful setting. I can imagine that if you have a good competition card in hand, especially in a big honours board event or the club championship, with a large crowd watching it could well be a nerve jangling conclusion to the round
|Kingswood putting green and club house|
They have spent £500,0000 on upgrading the course and since then it has been selected to be a qualifying course for the 2011 Seniors Open and hosted the Surrey Amateur Championship and PGA Surrey Open in 2014. Kingswood have plans to build on this and make it not only a must play for the visiting club golfer, but to host more prestigious events.
The day itself was fantastic. Brilliant warm sunshine, great company and a well presented course, that on the back nine at least, proved far too good for my struggling game. I can't wait to get an invite back again, (especially as my friend has now become a member), as long as the M25 behaves (two and a half hour return journey that should have taken fifty minutes). I did get a discounted green fee and they offer a mid-afternoon rate of £45, although I'm not totally convinced it would be worth the full £70 quoted on their website even given the quality of the layout. That of course is just my opinion, and I have a reputation of being financially prudent (tight as some would say) so maybe it's just the thought of me parting with my hard earned cash
Course presentation, layout and condition 8.5/10
Practice facilities 5/10
Halfway hut food and service 7.5/10
Welcome and service 8.5/10
Access and easiness to find 7/10
Food and drink 7.5/10
Overall mark 7.5/10 (well worth a visit)