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