Golf Course Review
Tandridge Golf Club near Oxted is a Harry Colt classic in the Surrey countryside. Established in 1924, the course is sited on the Greensand Ridge offering inspiring views of the Surrey North Downs and of The High Weald.
Tandridge Golf Club History
The story begins in 1922 when Sir Henry Gibson KCB proposed the construction of a new golf course. The only other golf course in the immediate area was only 9 holes and closed for play on Sundays. Harry Colt was hired to design the course which featured two loops and over 300 bunkers! Tandridge Golf Club opened for play on October 1, 1924.
Tandridge Golf Club Synopsis
The two nines contrast each other with the outward nine on gentle land whereas the inward makes use of the more dramatic and rolling terrain. The number of bunkers at Tandridge Golf Club has been reduced relieving the club of the burden and expense of maintaining these to a modern standard. Silent witnesses remain, such as on the right side of the 15th.
The ongoing efforts to clear decades of unmanaged tree growth have revealed epic views from the high ground on the back nine and revealed an amazing infinity green on the 12th. Views across the course are impressive and only improved upon by expansive views towards the High Weald AONB.
A new course manager has taken Tandridge Golf Club to the next level. Mowing lines have been adjusted - bringing in tightly mown runoffs at green sites and on approaches. The appropriate block cutting of greens and fairways contrasts nicely with the hand mowing done on the tees. The course is committed to improving. Investment has followed with the club adding a shaper to help with planned works in conjunction with Tim Lobb along with purchasing their own digger and dumper.
Further planned works on irrigation will provide better turf quality in time. The thinning of the rough will also be no doubt welcomed by members and visitors.
True to form, Harry Colt used an opening Par 5 followed by a Par 4 to get from the clubhouse to the extremity of the site, before routing the front nine back to the clubhouse. This is a common trait of many Harry Colt designs.
The large Principle's Nose bunker complex on the inside of the 2nd hole's dogleg is one of the largest I've ever seen! Most would walk past without a second thought but I found it an interesting homage to The Old Course!
Valley of Sin's are used frequently in the aprons and approaches. It wasn't just Tom Simpson nor Sir Guy Campbell who used these features well!
Funnels near the entrance to green are seen throughout the course. The 9th is the most obvious example. The 14th and 18th are also examples of this unique design.
The greens vary but all have character. The tiered greens do not simply feature a step from one tier to the next. The ridge will usually be a compound curve.
The 8th green features a punchbowl in a punchbowl - perhaps the only such example I can recall!
Greens built in a Redan style occur frequently. Examples can be seen on the 4th, 6th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 17th.
Harry Colt would often site bunkers in the faces of ridges. It would seem this was a prominent feature of his work at Tandridge Golf Club due to the natural topography of the site. It also goes a long way to understanding why he built so many bunkers here.
Mr. Colt also depicted in his writings bunkers influencing play for different categories of golfers. Centreline bunkers, strategically located are prominently featured, most notably on the 16th! They are also seen on the 3rd, 11th, and 12th.
Harry Colt loved ridges and used them not only for diagonal cross bunkers, echelon bunkers or 'strings of pearls' but also for green sites. The 4th green and 6th green both sit on the same ridge but played from opposing sides.
There is a bunker on the 8th hole which appears to be orientated in the wrong direction for play on the 8th. Of note, it creates a layered visual for the 7th. Did Colt use a bunker on the 8th to create visual intrigue on the 7th? I'm still trying to figure this one out...
The other conundrum is the area left of the 15th green. It appears to be a design feature and is hidden in plain sight. At the moment it is not cut short... One wonders what it could have been in the past and how it could be utilised now!
Tandridge Golf Course Summary
I had wanted to see Tandridge Golf Club for some time. I am always interested in Harry Colt's work and especially those clubs that have had restorative work done by Mr. Frank Pont. The consulting architect is now Tim Lobb and in cooperation with the course manager, the future looks bright. Thinner rough, bigger greens, closely mown green surrounds, the introduction of run-offs, managed woodlands, and revealing the incredible vistas will put the course on a path with only more accolades.
Most will remember the back nine at Tandridge Golf Club - the elevation changes are incredible and the holes are spectacular. The elevation is gained imperceptibly from the 10th tee to the 12th green. A little is given back at the 13th and then all of it on the 14th tee. The layout of the 14th, 15th, and 16th holes is a great example of how to break up what could have become a slog.
However, it was the subtlety of the front nine which impressed me the most. As you'd expect with any Harry Colt design, the greens and bunkers impress. The simplicity of the drainage in and around green sites is simplistic but efficiently simple. For me, it is the understated simplicity and elegance of these features that make Harry Colt's work so good. It is exemplified on the front nine at Tandridge Golf Club.
At a glance
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Surrey, RH8 9NQ, EnglandVisit Club Website
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