When initially planning my trip to England, I had in my head a short (and odd) list of courses I really wanted to play. Swinley, Sunningdale, The Sacred Nine, Painswick and Kington (I'm 3/5, not bad). The problem is that I really had no idea where any of these courses are and quickly figured out that you're never just going to find yourself in Kington's area. It's a 2 hour drive from Stratford and 90 minutes back to Cheltenham but I wasn't going to miss it.
What an odd choice to start a discussion of Kington with rankings, but here we go. I scored the course a Doak 7, and I believe Tom gave the same score, while Sean gives it a 6, all of this must be seen as a compliment as such scores put this unknown, inexpensive and out of the way country course in rather esteemed company. But in re-thinking, why is Kington not an 8? Why isn't it a World Top 100 contender?
It's easy to make the argument that Kington offers a truly world-class set of par-3s. There are, quite obviously, several standout holes through the course: 1, 5, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18.
Kington does not suffer from weak holes. Seemingly simply holes such as the nearly featureless, uphill 6th still hold the golfer's interest by building an angled shelf green into the left-to-right slope, forcing the golfer to play to the fairway's high side or risk a far more challenging pitch.
Kington is unique. Not to be mistaken with an anything I've seen before, from the micro hollows through the fairways, to the routing taking advantage of broad movements up and down Bradnor Hill, to the lack of bunkers, to the built-up mounding...
So, where is Kington's weakness? Unlike, say, Cleeve Hill or Painswick, the land never got so difficult or the quirk so extreme as to become goofy for a great course. So is it really conditioning and difficulty that hold Kington back from top-100 status? I thought that sort of thing doesn't matter to us?