Proper Golf

Friday, March 9, 2012

Review: The Addington

The Addington Golf Club, 1913
Architect: John Frederick Abercromby
Croydon, England

One of the best inland par-3's in golf, the long #13 has the right combination of difficulty, fun and beauty

After The Old Course at St. Andrews, The Addington, in the heathlands outside London, may be the most ideal golf course. Abercromby, known as Aber, the benevolent dictator and architect of his home club, who clearly discovered this rugged minimalist gem, rather than built it, has given us one of the most fun and interesting courses in the world. With little bunkering necessary on this ideal piece of property only a few miles from the center of London, Aber routes the course to get the absolute most out of the property, using deep ravines as intimidating and natural hazards. There are big slopes to help the smart player strategically move the ball along the ground, and not a single hole that looks forced or out of place on the property.

#12 at The Addington is one of the most unique and quirkiest par-5's in golf. A very different take on risk/reward, bordering on luck, if you can navigate around the seas of heather which gobble up balls that you would have sworn were sitting pretty in the fairway from tee to green there is a possibility of reaching this green in two shots.

There is certainly not much leeway at The Addington. Because of the rugged and severe terrain, that is a bit reminiscent of Pasatiempo in California, the ideal way to play each hole is well defined and big numbers can start to pile up very quick if you start to stray from that line, as you may need a machete to find your ball in the rhodendron, heather, and trees. However with todays modern technology, the shorter length golf course is not as difficult as it surely once was, and there are certainly alternative ways to make pars here, and even birdies as well.

The last place you want to end up on #6, this brutal hazard requires stairs and bridge.

The course starts out a little slow, as holes # 1-5 are not terrible special aside from the fact it starts with an uphill par-3. Once the 6th tee is reached, everything changes. The stretch of holes from #6 to #9 is as strategically sound and exciting as any in golf, with stark shot values, treacherous hazards and a few bridges over some of the deep ravines. Each of these holes offers something unique. #6, a relatively short par-4 has a two options off the tee, no matter which is chosen the idea is to avoid one of the deepest bunkers in existence, cut into a ravine short right of the approach, at all costs. While it should be easily be avoided, the deep bunker needing a large staircase to enter and exit will often eat up balls from over zealous golfers. After a partially blind tee shot on the par-3 7th with some trenched out bunkers placed high above the green creating extremely difficult short game shots, the 8th hole, a bunkerless gem provides the par-player one of the most exacting tee shots on the course. Although not entirely clear from the tee, the ideal line is just inside the tree line on the left to using a diagonal ridge at the crest of a hill to gain an advantage of length and full view of the green. The final hole on outward nine surely cannot be replicated anywhere, jumping over deep ravines on both the tee shot and approach. Club selection is at a premium on the 9th as driver is probably to long for most, but any shot no long or left enough will create problems on the approach as trees will be hide the green or distance over the 2nd ravine will be to great to conquer.

The blind tee shot on #8 may not imply the most obvious of lines the first time you tee it up, but the ideal line here is just inside the trees on the left, and with either a draw or a friendly bounce, the green will open up on the approach. Tee balls played straight up the path will face a second blind shot and added distance in. Stark shot values, but nothing overly complicated gives golfers something to really fun to think about on almost every shot.

The best holes on the back nine are two of the most natural par-5s, numbers 12 and 16, as well as a pair of exacting one shot holes. With so many interesting and unique holes, it would be nearly impossible to describe them appropriately. All I can do is suggest you take the time to experience this incredibly fun and demanding golf course for yourself the next time you are in London. I took my boss' advice and certainly owe him some credit for my love of The Addington, so Tom Doak... thanks for sending me in the right direction, now I will try to convince more to do the same.

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