Feature Review Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Golf Club
Living in London without a car can be a nightmare when it comes to finding a good golf course to play. One that’s easy to get to, near a train or tube station and reasonable priced can be a task in itself. Luckily I found Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Golf Club which ticks all those boxes and to top it all off, it’s a great club with a local and warm welcoming feel.
Less than five miles away from the city which you can see from the magnificent views available from the clubhouse, Dulwich and Sydenham Hill really does feel like a home from home club, a feeling I got from the staff and members up there who were more than happy to chat, provide tips for the course and welcome us into their club something that you don’t always receive as a visitor to a traditional members club.
Set in just 79 acres, Harry Shapland Colt did a great job in providing a great challenge in such a tight space which requires accuracy to find the narrow fairways and a good eye on the greens as the undulations are subtle and tough to read.
I like a course that starts with a par-3; it’s different and makes you think about your first shot rather than reaching for the driver and hoping to hit the fairway. It’s certainly no easy par-3 however; a downhill 236-yard hit is required from the championship tees which are situated in front of the clubhouse. Reach for a long iron or fairway wood to reach the green which slopes from front to back. A par is a great start here.
Accuracy is a must from the 2nd tee where big hitters shouldn’t have to worry about the water hazard on the left but at 200 yards of the back tees it would come into play for some. If you leak towards the right hand side of the fairway a tall oak tree some 50-yards from the green will come into play which you’ll need to avoid to hit a narrow and once again undulating green. If approaching from the right and you avoid the tree you’ll need to clear a subtle mound front right of the green but don’t be over cautious or you’ll catch the bunker which guards the left hand side.
You’ll walk around the back of the 16th green to reach the 3rd tee which is a long straight par-4 with a fairway bunker in play down the left hand side. Water can also be found towards the front left of a slightly elevated green which slopes away at the back. Club selection is vital on your approach.
The first par-5 on the course provides the first genuine scoring chance as you fire your tee shot towards the church spiral in the distance. Your approach to the green is all downhill but must be threaded through bunkers that protect either side of the green.
With clubhouse in view on the right hand side of this uphill tee shot there is more fairway over the brow of the hill that meets the eye on the par-4 7th. Playing into the wind this is a tough tee shot that must find the fairway in order to thread your approach in-between two big oak trees to a green that can be hidden if your shot off the tee isn’t long enough. Also beware of the bunker that protects the front left of the green. If the wind is swirling, this approach shot is tough to judge.
The hardest hole on the course has water and out of bounds all the way down the right hand side of the fairway which cuts in to narrow the landing area and brings the trouble into play. At 410 yards a long iron will be needed into the 8th green which is protected by two bunkers either side of the green which slopes from right to left and back to front. Take a look back down the fairway from the green and you’ll be able to see Battersea Power Station and on a clear day Wembley Stadium.
The front-nine ends with the shortest hole on the course but a hole where you’ll find the most trouble. High scores are common on this great little par-3 which is 142 yards from the back tees with out of bounds tight to the green of the right and a sharp drop to the left which also has a deep bunker to catch any misjudged shots. The green is very narrow as well so from the tee the landing area doesn’t look big at all. A great little par-3 that takes you into the back nine.
The inward nine begins with a dog-leg left par-4 which can be a dangerous driving hole as you drive up and over a mound. I speak from experience as hitting what I thought was a good drive my ball was nowhere to be seen. I’d say that driver isn’t really required especially as the fairway narrows towards where a driver would finish up. Add that to the fairway bunkers that could come into play, a fairway would is the sensible play which still leaves a short iron into the green.
Moving forward the par-4 13th is a long par-4 at around 420 yards which is all downhill until you reach the ditch that is either side of the fairway. Certainly not reachable from the tee but it’s where the fairway begins to rise up to a green that is situated on a plateau so club selection is vital. There’s a bunker front right of the green but unless the flag is behind that it shouldn’t come into play as you need to give yourself enough club to get up and over to give yourself a scoring putt. As with the rest of the course once you reach the green you still have work to do as the undulations slope from back to front and from right to left.
You then move onto what many of the members I spoke to said was their signature hole. The 188 yard par-3 14th is a gem of a short hole and when the wind is up it’s very tough to judge what club to hit. A cross bunker 20 yards short of the green will grab anything running up and a bunker either side of the three tiered green will also prove a tough up and down. One of the best greens on the course is saying something as the others are tough but this is a real test with the short stick especially if you get on the wrong level.
The 16th starts your run into the clubhouse with three variable holes which will keep you thinking until your last putt drops. The 16th is another par-4 over 400 yards and dog-legs left around 210 yards off the tee. Two fairway bunkers will catch out any drives that try and bail out to the right so a draw is favourable. A water hazard covers the whole left side of the green which also has a bunker front right so trust your yardage and attack the flag.
The 17th has one of the narrowest fairways on the course and keeps getting narrower the further you hit it. The first of two fairway bunkers start 270 yards from the tee with your approach into a small green with run of areas over the back.
The last hole is a true risk and reward which will reward to big hitters who can send their ball sailing over the dog-leg right and over the trees 267 yards to the green. This option though has danger written all over it with out of bounds all the way down the right and anything not caught out of the middle will find trouble in the woods or the sand that protects the front or right right hand side depending on how you look at it. The safe option is to take a five or six iron to the play up the fairway which also acts as the run down area off the first tee to leave a wedge into a narrow green which is slightly elevated and slopes left to right which can take your ball off the green if your wedge shot is not controlled.
Into the clubhouse
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Golf Club and I certainly look forward to my return. It’s certainly one of those courses that will keep getting better the more times you play it especially as you’ll know where to hit your tee shots and where to attach the tricky greens.
A big thanks to Club Manager Michael Sawicki and his friendly staff who welcomed me into the club.
For more information or to book your tee time visit www.dulwichgolf.co.uk
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|Dulwich & Sydenham Hill Golf Club
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