With plenty of variety, excellent greens and elevated views to London in the north, Purley Downs has much to offer. Rob Smith reports…

Purley Downs Course Review

Surrey is packed with famous golfing names and more Golf Monthly Top 100 courses than any other county. Away from the limelight, there is an extremely strong supporting cast and Purley Downs Golf Club is blessed with a scenic and enjoyable course that is kept in excellent condition.

It was designed by JH Taylor of Royal Birkdale fame, and unusually, the course opens with a short hole… but what a par 3! It’s an absolute beauty played from high on the slope just outside the clubhouse down to a green surrounded by bunkers and run-offs.

The elevated tee at the first presents a very appealing challenge

You then climb to the second tee before working your way up the hole to the green which will come as some relief as it will generally play a fair bit longer than its yardage.

The sanctuary of the green at the uphill second

The 3rd runs right to left, and the 4th is the second short hole before you encounter the first par 5 which is probably reachable for the longer hitters, but certainly not me!

The par-5 fifth has OOB on the right all the way

A pair of very strong par 4s come next, and the 8th is another appealing and unusual par 3 which plays deceptively long as the cross bunker is some 70 yards short of the centre of the green.

The short eighth is played across a valley to an excellent green site

The drive at the 9th is inviting but you will probably need an extra club for the approach as it is up the slope.

The front nine concludes with a strong two-shotter

Some people feel that downland golf equates to strenuous walking, and although this may occasionally be the case at some courses, it is really not so at Purley Downs where the gentle rise at the 2nd and slightly more heart-pumping climb at the 10th is pretty much as tough as it gets.

Looking back from the tenth green

The par-4 11th takes you to the lowest point of the course where the second and final long hole hugs the railway line to the right. Shaping a shot from right to left here can be a real bonus, and it is one of many attractive holes played to a green cut into the hillside.

The par-5 twelfth slopes from left to right

The next two head up and down the slope and you then come to the final par 3. Although short, it is vital both to be straight, and to select the correct club.

The green at the final short hole is surrounded by sand

A short par 4 and a dogleg right lead you to the final tee where another very inviting drive awaits. As at nine, it is important to take enough club on your second shot to reach the green.

The closing hole with the welcoming terrace and veranda nearby

Dating back to 1894, Purley Downs is a fine club with the friendliest members and a free-draining course that is the envy of many. I’ve been lucky enough to play here a number of times over the years and it has constantly grown on me. If you’ve not yet been, then I would recommend that you do.