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Richmond Golf Club Feature Review

By: | Fri 17 Aug 2012

Richmond Golf Club is located a stone’s throw away from central London in beautiful Sudbrook Park; a tranquil, lush area of greenery that borders the historic, 2-500 acre Richmond Park. The golf club is a perfect match for the affluent suburb of London, something that is immediately obvious as you pass under a grand arch to enter the grounds.

As you drive towards the clubhouse on a road that winds through the 6,091, extensively modernised Tom Dunn design, you get a real sense of what lies in store for your round. Thick, matted rough flanks every fairway and, whilst the course isn’t long, it is one of the narrowest I have ever played. If you are able to hit straight long irons and keep the ball in play, there are scoring opportunities, but if you are even slightly wayward off the tee, you will struggle to make 30 points. There are only two par 4s over 400 yards and several below the 350 yard mark, but it says everything about the course that it is one of the most challenging I have played. The greens are firm and fast and well protected by some exquisite new bunkering, the rough is brutal and the fairways are as narrow as I have ever seen.

The course, though, is fair, and an extremely enjoyable test. The quality of the course is also matched by the outstanding facilities and striking clubhouse, Sudbrook Mansion, which overlooks the 18th green. The grade one listed building houses two bars, a restaurant, superb changing facilities and a large outside area, the perfect place to relax and enjoy a beer after pleasant day on the golf course.

Par 3s

One of the quirky features of the course, which adds some intrigue as you consider the scorecard, is the fact it possesses six par 3s, with three on each nine. None of them are overly long but making par is a challenge, with each hole well protected by sand, run-off areas and heavy rough. Most of the par 3s are also very narrow channels with narrow entrances to the green, meaning anything wayward will find trouble.

The first par 3 on the front nine is the 4th hole. It plays slightly uphill to a large green that slopes from back to front. Both sides of the green are guarded by two large bunkers and two roll off areas at the front and the back of the green.

The ninth is the longest par 3 on the front nine, and your mind immediately starts to wander as you step on to the tee. There are trees and heavy rough both left and right, with shots having to carry at least 150 yards to clear an area of knee high rough in front of the green. Heavy rough protects a small, undulating green, with run off areas both left and right. Only the highest quality shot will find the putting surface, with no guarantee of a two-putt.

The stand out par three on the back nine is the 16th hole. At 185 yards from the white tees, it requires a long iron or even a fairway wood, and to add to that, it is the narrowest hole on the course. There can only be around twenty yards between the trees that run down the left of the hole and trees that run down the right, with unplayable rough in between. What’s more, the green is very narrow, and divided into two parts by a ridge. When the pin is on the back level, par is an exceptional score.

Par 4s

There are some great par 4s at Richmond supporting the adage that a hole doesn’t have to be long to be difficult. Indeed, many golf courses around the world could learn from Richmond’s example. The first three holes on the course are par 4s and, despite an average yardage of less than 350 yards, you are very happy if you stand on the 4th tee level with your handicap.

The second hole is only 310 yards long, but par is a good score. The hole is dead straight, and all you can think as you stand on the tee is how narrow the fairway is, and how much trouble lurks if you are off line. The short grass is only 15 yards in width, with heavy rough the buffer between the fairway and lines of bushes and trees on both sides of the fairway. The approach is played to a narrow green which slopes heavily from back to front, with a sizeable wall running behind the putting surface.

The third hole is arguably the hardest par 4 on the golf course. A tree encroaches into the fairway on the right hand side of the hole, meaning any drive finding the right hand side of the fairway will be blocked out. If you manage to avoid the tree and the two fairway bunkers, a long iron is left to a narrow green protected by three bunkers, trees on the left and some of the heaviest rough on the course on the right.

The standout par four on the back nine is the tenth hole, just ahead of the 18th. A line of trees mark the left edge of the fairway, and any drive even slightly pulled will result in a lost ball. Large bunkers also guard the right hand side of the fairway and, even if you find the short grass, a long iron is required for an uphill approach to a green no more than 10 yards in width.

The 18th is an excellent closing hole, with blind drives hit over a gorse bush to a fairway sloping from left to right. Approaches are played over a road and in full view of the clubhouse to a green protected front left by a bunker and front right by a steep run off area.

Par 5s

There are four par 5s on the golf course and, in truth, they are all rather similar. As with the course as a whole, they aren’t long and there are opportunities for birdies, but stray off line and you will be punished.

The first three par 5s on the course are dead straight, with the 11th being the most interesting. The fairway is only 14 yards wide at its narrowest point, and the lay-up area and the entrance to the tiered green are both small and well protected.

Probably the most interesting par 5 on the course is 17. Again, the drive is narrow, and a bunker on the right of the fairway marks the point where the hole swings to the right. If you area able to carry the bunker the green is reachable in two, but a ditch cuts across the fairway 100 yards short of the putting surface, the point at which the hole climbs steeply uphill to a green some 30 yards above the level of the fairway.


Overall, the course is a thoroughly enjoyable examination. There are good scores out there, but the rough is penal, the greens are slick and the fairways are the narrowest I have ever played on. I would give Richmond Golf Club a rating of 4/5.


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