There are some golf courses in London that should always belong on any golfers “must visit” list, The Addington Golf Club in South London is one of those. Very much the jewel in The Altonwood Group’s crown, a round at The Addington comes with the promise of a course rich in quality and challenge.
205 Shirley Church Road
Croydon, CR0 5AB
0208 777 1055
Designed in 1913 by John Frederick Abercromby (known affectionately as “Aber”) the course was an immediate hit. The writer P.G. Woodhouse was a regular visitor, indeed he makes a reference to the infamous bunker on the 6th in his book The Heart of Goof, a series of nine short stories concerning golf.
Soon after the construction of the course it was extended to include a second “New Course” on the other side of Shirley Church Road. This was held in as much esteem as the original old course and remained in play until after the Second World War when it was the subject of a Council compulsory purchase order and converted into housing.
There was a wonderfully warm welcome in the clubhouse, a superbly equipped pro shop, excellently serviced bar and restaurant area compliment the relaxed ambiance of the extensive spike bar. Refreshingly golfers are allowed to enter the club house in golf shoes, this was useful particularly after our round which was unfortunately a wet one. As you would expect, the changing facilities are excellent.
There are some rather unique warm up and practice facilities at The Addington. Where on some courses you would expect to find a driving range, The Addington has a full sized practice par four hole. This was originally the eighteenth which became redundant. A shelter near on the tee provides an opportunity to warm up while the green and bunkers are an excellent place to get your eye in before you tee off.
Like many courses in this suburb of London, The Addington follows an undulating parkland route. The genius of Aber’s design was how he exploited some remarkable geological features into the course. The course itself is a window into an era when this particular area of London was more countryside than city.
The course itself starts out with a few rather unexpectedly easy-going holes. As you set off its easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. An achievable par three on the first is followed by a rather accommodating par five that which, while relatively narrow, is wide enough to forgive an errant shot.
And so the course continues for a five holes, I began to wonder why the course came with such a fearsome reputation for accuracy off the tee. Until you reach the sixth.
Like the previous five tees its a relatively straightforward drive, as I lined up my second shot I was blissfully unaware of the ravine to the right of the fairway. The “Woodhouse” bunker on the sixth is the first of many Aber features that add a certain edge to this course.
From the seventh tee onward The Addington relentlessly throws challenges at you. There is something on just about every hole to get you thinking about your shot. The Addington is a thorough examination of your game from tee to green.
There is plenty to look at while you work your way around this stunningly attractive course. The ninth is an aesthetic treat. The course design incorporates the ravines that run though the landscape, wooden bridges link the different parts of the fairway across heather that was just coming into flower on the day of play.
Once you get the ball near the greens your short game will be subjected to the same high level of challenge as the rest of your game. The greens are as you’d expect, fast and challenging, protected as much by the lay of the land than by bunkers. If there are any flat areas on the greens my ball didn’t find them. Your ability to judge pace, line and length as well as reading line correctly will come under scrutiny.
The halfway house next to the 10th green provides an opportunity to get your breath back, a veranda over looking the par four is a good place to have a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich before taking on the back nine with intent.
The quality of The Addington Golf Club course is such that it’s virtually impossible single out a hole that represents it. The fairways on the back nine is certainly provide a stern test of shot choice and execution.
The thirteenth is a wonderful par three, around 220 yards with a very narrow landing area. The fifteenth fairway is a wonderful mix of natural landscape hazards bunkers and tight lies. The sixteenth has to be one of the finest holes on any course in Britain. A sweeping par five that is a beautiful mix of features, it’s relatively high stroke index is deceptive.
The Addington Golf Club is a World Class test of a golfers skill and mental strength. The sheer beauty and history of this golf course elevate it above most courses not just in London but in Britain.
It’s little wonder that The Addington Golf Club has attracted Kings, Ryder Cup teams, artisans and sports and television personalities from the top of their areas of expertise. If you haven’t put The Addington on your list of must visit course you really ought to, you won’t regret playing it.