First, a few random thoughts concerning Addington.
1. Addington is a very difficult course. Measuring just under 6300 yards from the medal tees, Addington plays much like a 6800 yarder. Why? At first glance it may seem just an Addington anomoly, but there are three main reasons for the magical added yardage. First, in an almost imperceptible way, Addington has six short holes. This has the knock on effect of adding a virtual 400-500 yards to the card. Second, many holes require rather steep uphill approaches. Finally, the heroic nature of the design makes driver off the tee a very dangerous play on several holes. All of this adds up to at least a five hundred yard difference from the actual card to how long the course plays. Make no mistake, Addington severely tests the long ball. Compare scorecards from today and 1937, very little change in 85 years.
2. I have concluded that despite the course playing unusually long it is imperative to be able to hit a slinging hook 3 wood off the tee. I reckon there are five tee shots in which this is the best shot to hit. #s 6, 8, 10, 12, & 16. Three of these are long holes, but because of awkward angles off the tee, abrupt fairway ending or hog back fairways, the layup is a very good option. Additionally, the 3 wood could easily come in handy for many other shots.
3. Addington has what I would call four controversial holes. I expect all know about #12. It can't be properly described anyhow. The other three are #s 8, 13 & 16.
If there is any such thing as an over the top hole #8 is it. A 400+ yarder legging hard left with a blind drive. Lets say you pull off a great slinging hook with a 3 wood. Bobs is your uncle right? Wrong! The fairway is humpbacked with both sides falling sharply into trees. The kicker is that the player doesn't even know which side to look because of the blind drive. Right, I can hear people saying well "LAY UP DUFUS!" Sounds an excellent idea. Only thing is, the humpback runs from the sharp rise in front of the tee to about 20 yards short of the green. I think this hole should, would and could be far better if the fairway was significantly widened. As is, its a clunker, but I am sure there are many who sing its praises.
#13 is an evil 200 yard par 3 with bunkering left and right. Nothing but perfection will do. Very penal in nature, but great none the less.
#16 is an all world short 500 yard par 5 which slings hard left and downhill. The hole begs the golfer to go for it in two mainly because the layup is more or less a wedge. You see, Addington is riddled with ravines, one of which cuts through the fairway just short of the green. Additionally, the fairway runs downhill about 100 yards out so the layup needs to be short of this steep area. Great hole! Perhaps the best on the course.
4. One of the most refreshing aspects of Addington is the bunkering in no way defines the course. After seeing rows of bunkers on new courses it is a delight to see a course which is defined by its terrain. Unfortunately, the preponderance of trees compromises this interesting terrain.
5. Addington cannot be categorized. Despite my misgivings about #8 and the most famous hole on the course, #12 (even though I question this hole I am still prepared to call it great), Addington is spot on in erring on the side of outrageousness.
The opener feels a bit like an after-thought. Indeed, the 5th was meant to be the opener with the house near the 16th tee. Be that as it may, the tee is tucked around the side of the house in an area not terribly welcoming, but the hole itself isn't at all bad. #2 is a solid par 5 with a right to left green which plays far trickier than appearances may suggest. The uphill one-shot 3rd feels and plays very similar to the 1st unless one plays the medal tees set some 40 yards behind the daily tees. We now come to the first of the original "bogey holes", the long, uphill fourth. The severe left to right cant is the main feature of the drive. According to CH Alison in a 1920 Golf Illustrated article, Colt designed Addy and Aber built the course. On the one hand this is easy to believe when looking at the mounding around this green. On the other hand, the par 3s don't tackle the tough terrain as we expect on Colt day signs. Many of the difficult holes are such because they run over the most difficult terrain which usually includes ravines. At Coombe Hill and Worplesdon Aber relied on the services of Park Jr. Perhaps Aber turned to Colt in this instance because Park Jr was in the US drumming up business when Addington was built.
The fifth turns back on the previous hole and it too slopes severely, but to the left. There has been tremendous work done in recent years to clear out debris from trees, but very much to the detriment of the original design, trees are still a huge problem. The 6th plays over flatter land than the opening quintet of holes, but Aber created the interest by turning this hole far enough left that using a driver off the tee could result in running out of fairway down the right. Hugging the left trees offers a better angle of attack.
PG Wodehouse's Bunker right of the fairway. It is this feature which hints at things to come.
The one-shot 7th marks the point at which Addington rockets into the stratosphere of homeric design. Taking on some of the most rambunctious terrain in (walkable) golf, it is the remaining holes which reveal the true nature of Addington. This may be my favourite hole mainly because the green is seriously influenced by the hill and is very difficult to read. This photo is from well in front of the tee.
The 7th in the 1920s. It is difficult to argue that bunkers add interest to the hole. A new bunker (I suspect the furthest right) was added in 1936, a year after Aber's death. Regardless of bunkering, the interesting aspect if the original green is how much larger it is than today's version.
Looking back to the tee.
Looking back toward the tee of the infamous 8th with the diabolical hogback fairway.
The two-shotter 9th plays deceptively long because the hole turns nearly 90 degrees left making this very much target style golf. The approach is unusual for Addington because from the fairway the perfectly settled dome green doesn't appear to have any defining features.
It is easy to forget the 10th plays over the same ravine crossed for #9 - a topped drive will likely never be seen again.
The 11th is the shortest hole on the course. The green is small and forms a peninsula opening to the daily tee for the 12th.
#s 12 & 13 combine to create the most daunting couplet in the golf lexicon. The 12th is as severe a hole as one need play. The drive is blind and lurching left. The fairway ends at ~250 yards. Then the golfer faces a decision of what to do next. It must be noted that in days gone by, the layup in the valley was a difficult shot because the only target was a sliver of fairway down the right.
Very near the same spot in the 1920s. I am not sure which hole is on the left...I suspect this may be a spare hole.
Did I mention that among a good set of greens this is probably the most interesting example on the course?
Having this vicious short hole follow the 12th is something else. Addington is surely unique for its many bridges, without which this routing simply would not work. A new bunker was added in 1936, I suspect one of the right bunkers.
Even holes such as the relatively mild mannered 14th have considerable movement to the fairways. Notice how much the right side of the green is built up.
The final would be bogey 5 is the 15th; a long par 4 playing uphill every inch of the way and to a green which is stepped. The incomparable 16th along with Sunningdale New's 6th are the two best three-shotters in the heathlands. The approach after a perfect lay-up. Many will try to bash their way home...
...because the lay-up zone is unappealing. More often than not the third will be from the lower rough after having a go at the green.
The par 3 17th crosses over the 16th green. Addington has a marvelous selection of one, two and three shotters, but one could argue the collection of par 3s are the glue which make the routing a success.
The view from near the current daily tee in the 1920s.
Very much like #s 4 & 5, the home hole is good without being spectacular. The biggest drawback of the hole has nothing to do with its design, but rather where it finishes. Like #1, the 18th ends at the side of the house facing the parking lot - what a shame.
Addington is a severe course; often quite penal, but never dull...and that is despite a bit of a slow burner opening six holes. Due to it's heroic nature, this isn't the sort of course I would relish playing week in and week out, but there can be little debate concerning Addington's quality nor my admiration for the design. Perhaps the difficulty could have been eased with a driveable par 4 or two. Then again, given the amount of funky holes maybe short two-shotters is a step too far. Regardless, Addington is a very good course that should be included in any itinerary of London golf. If many hundreds of trees were removed, greens and fairways enlarged (would help the agronomy over the gravel subsoil and improve views) and the American style cut lines altered, I have no doubt Addington would merit at least
1*. The combination of Addington and Aber's nearby Knole Park is surely as satisfying as any pairing can be. 2013
Aber's Knole Parkwww.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,53010.0.html