As a regular golf course visitor I’ve had the pleasure of playing many courses on my journey across the South East that describe themselves as “hidden gems” and I have to admit it’s often been difficult to find fault with this statement.
Jail Ln, Biggin Hill, Westerham, Kent TN16 3AX
We are blessed here in the South East of England, the spiritual home of the country park golf course, that there are indeed many gems waiting to be discovered. Set on the lower North Downs some 600 feet above sea level, Cherry Lodge golf club is a par 72, 6652 yard parkland course could easily be included in that category.
It’s worth mentioning Cherry Lodge has recently undergone an extensive landscaping and redevelopment program; approximately 250 000 cubic metres of hardcore, sand and earth has been deposited and dramatically reshaped the golf course. I have visited Cherry Lodge of a fairly regular basis and so had the pleasure of seeing the course develop as the landscape has adopted its new shape.
In addition to the new course layout, new teeing grounds and a driving range have also been constructed. There are some cart paths on the course and the huge landscaping and investment program is now virtually complete.
The changes to the course have more or less retained the original course layout with some amendments to the length of each hole. The landscaping has created a landscape that many Kentish golfers will be familiar with, grassy undulations, combined with heathland like features.
Cherry Lodge Golf Club is a wonderfully engaging place to play golf. Constructed in 1969 it’s still a relatively youthful course though old enough to incorporate mature trees and established flora. The fairways are excellent and the greens are absolutely superb. I’ve played European tour standard greens I can honestly say the greens at Cherry Lodge are comparable.
What characterises this course is the quality of the greens and the long driving fairways. The fairways are excellently maintained. I played the course after a particularly wet spell of weather and the course, the fairways in particular, were very well drained.
There are plenty of opportunities to take the driver out of the bag, with some particularly tricky par fours. Long and straight off the tee will often set you up nicely.
The fairways are generally quite narrow in places with a combination of long grass, newly landscaped rough and trees provide ample incentive to keep the ball on the fairway. There is a local rule that takes into account staked trees, on the occasions I found myself in the rough I was often playing low punchy shots back out beneath the branches.
It would be remiss of me to write about a round at Cherry Lodge without mentioning the quality of the greens in more detail. They are fast, tour standard fast. Generally there is not much movement in them but the pace of the greens often caught me out. I usually average around 30 putts per round and was caught out a few times over reading a turn or just putting straight through it. The green keepers are to be congratulated on the standard of the course, it really is superb.
The clubhouse facilities at Cherry Lodge are also excellent, incorporating a well stocked pro shop, spike bar and food area. The practice area is rather small with a narrow putting green and two well constructed warm up nets however, with the construction of the new driving range nearing completion this problem is negligible.
Once you have finished your round there is large patio balcony area which overlooks the 18th green and pond. The staff were excellent, wonderfully welcoming and friendly, they were keen on encouraging us to come back which was a refreshing experience.
Cherry Lodge Golf Club has been on an interesting journey over the past few years, there have been some rather dramatic changes to the course. Now that all the changes are complete, the future at Cherry Lodge is incredibly bright indeed. It will take a number of years for the course to mature and develop yet, in the mean time, this is a course of terrific quality.