The beautiful, rolling deer park at Knole in Kent is home to an excellent and very individual golf course that will live long in the memory - Rob Smith enjoys a return visit

Knole Park Course Review

Way before I was lucky enough to work in golf, I knew about Knole Park Golf Club as it was on the roster of a society with which I played. Back in the 80s and 90s, we would spend a day here every two or three years, and I have been coming back on and off ever since, writing about it on more than one occasion for Golf Monthly.

Knole Park - an idyllic setting in Kent

Knole Park – an idyllic setting in Kent

One of the limited but highly-regarded designs of JF Abercromby, the course dates back to 1924 and runs over a large expanse of gently undulating, soft, springy turf. Rather unusually, it opens with a short hole, but this then tends to keep play moving at a good pace.

The opening par 3 calls for a well-struck shot

The opening par 3 calls for a well-struck shot

The 3rd is the first real feature hole, an inviting drive down the hill and back up the other side to a green that needs no bunkers for protection.

The semi-blind drive down into the dip at three

The semi-blind drive down into the dip at three

The next is also played from an elevated tee, but is a great deal more intimidating with a sea of ferns on the right and trees guarding the corner of the dogleg on the left.

Hole 4 - probably the most demanding drive on the course

Hole 4 – probably the most demanding drive on the course

The fifth is a cracking par 3, more severely uphill than the opening hole and played to a green in a wonderful, natural setting.

The fifth green is perfectly located

The fifth green is perfectly located

At the next, you get your first sight of the ornate and historic Knole House, a National Trust property packed with treasures that more than warrant a visit.

Knole House, once an archbishop's palace, overlooks the 6th hole

Knole House, once an archbishop’s palace, overlooks the 6th hole

To my mind, the prettiest of the six short holes is the downhill 8th which has ponds on the left and views over to 11, 12 and 13.

The very attractive downhill par-3 8th

The very attractive downhill par-3 8th

The next three holes take you to and around the furthest part of the course, and another memorable feature of a round at Knole is the many, very attractive deer that roam the 1,000 acre estate. I have seldom if ever witnessed any damage to the course as a result, and the more bold and/or foolhardy among them allow you to get very close indeed.

Mark Roe?!

The deer at Knole Park are an eye-catching bonus

Twelve is another appealing but demanding short hole, probably the toughest on the course and usually requiring a wood. Even if you make the green, 2-putting is no pushover.

Hole 12 - the toughest par-3 at Knole Park

Hole 12 – the toughest par-3 at Knole Park

As you head for home; there’s a really tough par 4 at fourteen but birdie chances at the two lovely par 5s at fifteen and seventeen.

The long 17th wends its way to a raised green

The long 17th wends its way to a raised green

The closing hole leads you back down to earth and the charming clubhouse via another protective pond, and it’s then time for a beer and a chance to reflect on how very different and distinctive each of the holes really is.

The scenic closing hole is protected by a pond

The scenic closing hole is protected by a pond

Knole Park is a course and indeed a club that I enjoyed on my first visit, and it has grown steadily in my estimation ever since. I very much hope to keep returning to this exceptionally pretty corner of Kent.

A view of the fifth - the English countryside at its best

A view of the fifth – the English countryside at its best