Birchwood Park golf centre is in many ways everything you will need from a public golf course. This is a facility that includes everything a golfer needs from the moment they enter the course grounds. There are some people that say Birchwood is the best public golf course in London.
Birchwood Park Golf Centre, Birchwood Road, Wilmington, Dartford, Kent DA2 7H
A short drive from the A20, located near to the village of Wilmington and close to Sidcup, Birchwood golf centre is easy to find. The golf centre complex is a relatively modern construction that includes an 18 hole, 6300 yard, par 71 course; a 9 hole par 3 course; 41 bay driving range and practice greens.
Birchwood Park golf centre is a very well looked after course, the fairways are well cut and the bunkers and greens were well tended. The view from the first tee was one of perfection. There’s nothing like arriving at a golf course an early spring morning when the weather is fine and teeing off into the crisp morning air.
Similar to many courses in the area, Birchwood Park golf centre has an open spacious feel, there is a good mix of maturing trees and low shrubs planted along the undulating fairways. At the time of play (early Spring) there wasn’t much rough to speak of however as it had yet to grow. There are other more significant hazards on this course, you’d do well to avoid the deep and vicious bunkers dotted like bomb craters around the greens and alongside the fairways.
You will need pretty much every club in your bag to successfully navigate this course. There is a good mix of short and long holes, hazards and well crafted superbly cut greens that are in immaculate condition. Playing the correct club and knowing your distances is key to a good round here.
There are no especially long holes on this course which is a bit of a shame, off the white tees there’s one over 500 yards but generally a good straight drive off the tee will set you up nicely for a short iron approach shot on most holes.
While there are no “signature” holes as such at Birchwood Park golf centre, there are a couple of superb challenges that make this course special. The 15th is one hole that will stick in your memory. You will need to lay up your tee shot bang on the elbow of the dogleg (about 200 yards from the tee) to give yourself a decent view of the green from an elevated position of about 80 feet; the green is itself very well protected by a ring of bunkers. This green is begging to be hit, the sensible option is to play it short and lay-up but where is the fun in that?
The 14th is a cracking par 3, sloping and situated on a hill surrounded by those vicious bunkers characteristic of this course, you must make the green in one shot or suffer the consequences. The 17th and the 18th have some water which can be brought into play.
The 18th in particular asks that you thread the ball between a pond on the left and a series of bunkers all in front of the restaurant bar area where spectators add a little pressure to the end of your round.
The greens on this course are superb, without a doubt some of the best I’ve ever played on any public golf course so far. All of the greens were terrifically quick, while relatively easy to read I was caught out by the pace a couple of times.
There isn’t much turn in most of the greens which is a bit of a shame, a break or two would make them very difficult indeed but coping with the pace was difficult enough. On the day of play the greens at Birchwood were like billiard tables, really quite impressive for the time of year.
Birchwood Park golf Centre is a superb day out for any golfer, you could easily spend a whole day here, play the par 3 course before a round on the 18 holes. This is a great course to put into practice those tricky approach shots you’ve been working on down the driving range. Do make use of a practice bunker before you arrive you will need to find your way out of the sand on more that one occasion at Birchwood Park golf centre.
As for negatives? There aren’t many in terms of play. I suppose at a stretch I could argue that the greens are a bit too reachable, a decent tee shot would only leave me with an 8 iron pitching shot on most holes, this course would be superb with a 600 yard par 5 hole. However, this would be extremely picky.
However, I understand from many of my golfing friends that during busy periods Birchwood Park golf centre can be extremely congested. While I appreciate that slow play should be avoided I resented being told how quick I should be; I played the 18 holes in 3 hours 20 minutes but I’ve heard reports of a round taking up to 6 hours.
On the day I teed off I didn’t experience any slow play, it is public course so you will have players of differing abilities, be prepared for this and you won’t be frustrated.
Is Birchwood Park golf centre the best public course in London? Well, if the debate that ranges among my golfing friends is anything to go by the beauty of a golf course is very much in the eye of the beholder. Regardless of opinion, Birchwood is a superbly designed golf course. It is a beautifully laid out and being of relatively recent construction often resembles competition tees on more expensive tour standard courses.
If I lived closer I would play this course far more often, it’s a beautiful, well kept and challenging enough to keep you thinking about your game all the way around. If you can book an off-peak tee time then do so to avoid the crowds and really appreciate this course.