Aquarius Golf Club is London’s most centrally located course. The nine holes are located on a historic underground reservoir that was where the great Sir Henry Cotton crafted his game during his formative years.
A bit of History
You really wouldn’t expect to find a golf course in in Peckham, yet tucked away behind the terraced houses is perhaps one of the World’s most unusual golf courses.
Aquarius golf club is officially the most centrally located golf course in London. Only three miles from London Bridge on the Overground line. The 9 hole course is laid out on and around the Beechcroft underground fresh water reservoir, a magnificent piece of Edwardian engineering still in use today. Containing up to 55 million gallons of Londoner’s drinking water, construction on the reservoir began in 1909 and was completed in 1912 with the golf club coming into existence soon after.
Aquarius golf club is immensely rich in history. The young Henry Cotton, three time winner of the British Open, learned the game. Reportedly Cotton practiced on its fairways until his hands bled.
A pupil of the nearby Alleyns School in Dulwich, Cotton then ordered by the school prefects to carry the cricket team’s equipment back to the school. An independently minded young man, Cotton took exception to this and sent a letter to the school master to complain and as a punishment subsequently banned from the school cricket team.
Cricket’s loss was golf’s gain and both Sir Henry and his brother went on to become successful golfers.
The facilities at Aquarious are rather limited when compared to other clubs. A small chipping green and warm up nets are the only practice facilities on course. However, there is a superb club house which commands a superb view of London.
While the amenities rather dated, Aquarius Golf Club is distinguished by its welcoming and friendly membership, it’s certainly one of the most accommodating courses you’ll play in London.
What’s it like to play?
Aquarius golf course has several characteristics that differentiate it from any golf course in the World. Perhaps the most unusual of these are the galvanised steel access covers that are dotted across the fairways. While these unusual hazards are visually obvious, they rarely come into play.
The elevated location of the course provides one of the best views of London you’ll find but also some incredible tricky winds. Cross winds are not always detectable off the tee.
You’ll find the course layout divided into an upper level and a lower level. The upper level is the land that covers the underground reservoir. Only 18 inches of soil separates golfers from 55 million litres of water below. A steep earth embankment supports the reservoir at the sides which provides some entertainment off the 4th and 6th tee.
On the lower level three par three holes are arranged around the imposing Edwardian pump house, with the 2nd and 11th tees feeding down the back to a green overlooked by terraced houses. A bunker shot here can be a bit nerve wracking, you really don’t want to catch a thin shot into someone’s back garden.
You’ll find Aquarius Golf club surrounded by houses and gardens which can make a couple of shots on the course a little bit nerve wracking. , having golf insurance is a pre-requisite of membership at the club and as a visitor it is advisable that you have public liability insurance.
Standing on the first tee it would be easy to assume that you are playing into a wide and expansive fairway of ultimate forgiveness. This is of course not the case. The fairways are clearly marked and strictly enforced boundaries, it’s very easy for the penalties points to build up.
Without a doubt Aquarius is one of the most unique golfing experiences I have ever had the pleasure of. It’s a surprisingly difficult course to play but tremendously good fun. The Aquarius course in historical terms as an important a course as many of the local 18 hole golf courses, Royal Blackheath included.
It’s worth mentioning that Aquarius is a private course that is not publically accessible. To play the course you should contact the secretary, Jim Halliday.
While few people will get the chance to play this course, Aquarius golf club really is a community asset of national even global importance.