The Addington Golf Club
Surrey, England

10th hole, 390 yards; Though the golfer is now in the heart of visually spectacular golfing country, how good is the architecture? How diverse are the holes? How varied are their challenges? In short, do their golfing qualities remain high? To answer, as the green is always the ultimate target, take a look at 40 yards and in of the 9th, 10th and 11th green complexes. The 9th is bunkerless, hugs the ground and is heavily contoured. The 10th green is pushed up, has three bunkers near it but even the left front one fools the golfer as it is a good ten paces from the front edge of the green, making depth perception tricky. Then at the 11th, the tiny, relatively flat green is well defended with bunkers flush against it. To the author at least, these ever shifting challenges are every bit the equal of the spectacular golfing landscape.

One of the most attractive shots on a course full of attractive shots is the tee ball at the tenth.

11th green, 135 yards; The shortest of the six one shotters is appropriately enough to the smallest green on the course. Plenty of 2s and 4s are had here. Near the high point on the property, the wind is a factor.

The tiny eleventh green is well bunkered.

Any tee ball that finds the putting surface leaves a relatively short putt at the eleventh. Conversely, not as many tee balls find the putting surface as one might hope!

12th hole, 485 yards; Completely outrageous, the 12th captures the most exhilarating attributes of old fashioned links golf where it is man vs. nature and there is no set way to play the hole. The tee ball is blind to a fairway that falls sharply away and where the tee ball ends up is a matter of chance. Some days, it may come to rest on a man-made plateau that gives the golfer a level lie for his long approach into the green. More than likely, it won’t and the golfer is left with either a hanging lie or his ball is in a clump of heather or by some miracle, it receives all the right bounces and has chased well over 300 yards from the tee past the natural obstacles to end up in the fairway near the base of the hill. Probably the hole that The Addington is most famous for,it is also the one that could use the most help today: old photos show that the golfer once had the ability to bounce his approach in from the high left area near the green and today that area is covered with tree growth. The option to come in from the left should be restored and hopefully the excellent selective tree clearing program that the Club has undertaken during the past several years will make a mark on this hole as well.

As is frequently the case with many of the finest holes at The Old Course at St. Andrews, the golfer has no clear idea as to the best line off the twelfth tee.

This golfer hit the perfect drive and found the twenty yard deep man-made plateau with his tee ball, giving him the only level lie on the hole. He is left with 220 yards to the most contoured green on the course. The tree growth left of the green needs to be cut back.

As seen in the mid 1920s, the ball could be bounced in from high left of the twelfth green.

For those golfer's less fortunate off the tee, the twelfth frequently is played as a three shotter with an uphill pitch required from around here. Given that the twelfth plays across the most turbulent property, Abercromby saw no need to build any bunkers.

The view from the twelfth green back up the heather laden, humpy bumpy fairway, complete with a man-made plateau tells the story: there is no telling where the tee ball will end up.

13th hole, 230 yards; Peter Dobereiner wrote of the joy of being alive and thatsuch a sensation was all the more intense for him at a place like Royal County Down.All golfers appreciate Dobereiner’s sentiments and for them, that special spot may be the 5th tee at Royal Portrush, or the 8th green at Cypress Point, or the crest of the hill at the 17th at Royal Melbourne West, or the 4th at Banff Springs, etc.). For many, just such a spot is the 13th tee at The Addington.

The sight of a well struck tee ball across the wilderness stays with the golfer forever. The grandness of the setting is rarely found - or matched - in inland golf.

14th hole, 360 yards; The perfect compliment to the heroic 12th and 13th holes, the 14th at first glance appears to be a breather but is as strategically appealing as any hole on the course. The green runs away from the golfer and the only way to get near the right hole locations is from the left side of the fairway, which is the side where all the trouble is.

The view from the fourteenth tee shows the wood covered ravine on the left, the green open in front from the left, the right greenside bunker, and The City of London in the background.

15th hole, 440 yards; The Addington is lay of the land architecture with Abercromby only after the best set of collective holes that the property would yield. The fact that the best set includes six one shotters and (originally) two back to back three shotters here and at the 16th shows that Abercromby wasn’t bound by any preconceived notions of a set par or formula of holes. The original design intent of the 15th was to position one’s second shot over a bunker cut into a hill 400 yards off the tee. Once on the higher ground as guarded by this bunker, the golfer looked down the length of a two tier green with a false front. However, as played as a two shotter today, the golfer often comes at this green from an oblique angle, made all the worse the more right(i.e. away from the trouble) that he plays the hole. Numerous 5s are obviously carded here, though the7s and 8s are generally reserved more for the 8th and 12th holes.

The daunting view of the fifteenth as it plays uphill to a two tier green with a false front. The green is angled to receive shots from over the bunker in the distance.

This photograph captures the awkward angle of an approach shot taken from the right center of the fairway. The back hole location is particularly tough to get to and plenty of balls hit on the front edge only to roll off the false front.

16th hole, 510 yards; Overshadowed by the world renowned 12th and 13th holes, this is the favourite hole of many. In viewing the photographs below, one is appreciative of both the possibilities that can only come from wild topography as well as Abercromby’s in the field vision to find/route such a hole. If not for another great half par hole (the 16th at Cypress Point), the author would select this hole for his own Pat Ward-Thomas world eclectic 16th hole. A superb match play hole and it falls at the perfect time in the round.

The great right to left sweep of the sixteenth fairway. The ideal drive is a hard draw that lands near the golfers pictured above, tales the slope and scampers downhill for another 50-60 yards.

Golfers that hit to the right side of the fairway off the tee are left with an awkward stance with the ball well above their feet. This becomes problematic as great control is required for the second shot.

If treated as a three shot hole, the ideal pitch is from the crest of this hill 90 yards from the green. If the golfer has gone for the green in two, one can appreciate the risk-reward in so doing with the heather clad bank left of the green and a thirty foot drop-off to the right.

17th hole, 190 yards; More menacing in appearance than it plays, the 17th plays at a 90 degree angle across the 16th green and gully to a green on the far side. Abercromby gives the impression that the golfer is storming a fortress as he cut the most threatening bunker on the course into the unkempt far hillside.

Though hard to believe based on this view of the seventeenth, it is actually one of the less exacting one shotters on the course.

A close-up of this fronting bunker at the seventeenth shows the gravelly nature of the soil with which Abercromby had to work.

Taken from a top the bunker, the golfer now appreciates that there is indeed plenty of room to bounce a ball onto the green.

18th hole, 430 yards; What is the one type hole that the course has yet to face? A relatively flat one which is exactly how the course now concludes. Though the tee ball does climb a slight incline, the golfer is all but guaranteed to find a level lie in the fairway, one of the few on the course. Five bunkers make it the most heavily bunkered hole on the course, which makes sense given it is on virtually the only featureless piece of property on the course. Abercromby was free to give the hole its character and the fairway bunker at 260 yards off the tee is the most dominate man-made hazard to avoid off the tee on the course.

As the unhappy golfer can attest whose ball tee ball ended up here, bunkers provide the playing interest at the eighteenth.

After the round, one repairs to the cozy clubhouse and of all the likely conversations, the author can not imagine any that start with, ‘The Addington reminds me of X course’ save for any general comments re: Pine Valley. Starting with the crater green side bunker at the 6th through the 17th, the golfer experiences to many one-of-a-kind holes and hazards. For a course that measures less than 6,350 yards, the amount of big hitting that is required is surprising. Yet, it is not a slugger’s course either given the tremendous variety of holes and shots that one has just been asked to play. From the tiny 11th to the monstrously long 13th, from the three shot 2nd to the half par 16th, from the stout two shotters that are parkland in nature (the 4th, 5th, and 18th) to the wild two shotters like the 8th, 9th and 12th that resist any form of classification, the diversity is astonishing. One of the reasons that England is the author’s favorite country in the world to play golf is because it seems to have a virtual monopoly on sub-6,400 yard courses that are world class (St. Enodoc, Swinley Forest, Pulborough, etc.). The golfer is asked to hit every shot around The Addington, faces numerous exciting and one-off hazards, and is finished his round on this less crowded course in less than three hours. In every respect, this is an ideal golf course, one of the finest spots for a game in the world.

The End