top of page
  • Neil White

Coombe Hill

"Aim at the top of the Shard!",

The UK's tallest building is just under 310 metres high and is 12 miles away from Coombe Hill, so I thought that would be a bit of an ask.

I jest. The instruction to smack a drive at the city of London skyline was the most helpful hint of the day - encouraging my opening shot to rest a mere 30 yards short of the green.

Coombe Hill was one of the big surprises of my top 100 treks so far, probably because I had lower-than-usual expectations.

"Prepare for four-putts," claimed one golf traveller while another referred to the "slightly crazy greens."

A close pal complained about the sharp inclines and declines over the relatively small plot of land which abuts Royal Wimbledon.

I mused on their words as I had a gentle drink on its gorgeous veranda awaiting my host. Regardless, of their warnings, this was a gorgeous day and Coombe Hill is very pretty.

And also friendly... the lady at its reception told me to "make myself cosy" and the chap in the pro shop was equally welcoming.

Ditto my host and our fellow golf nerds who had assembled for our afternoon round.

The opening hole lulled me into believing my current decent form would continue. I watched players with much lower handicaps than mine struggle to keep the ball on the green but my chip remained on the putting surface and I notched an easy par.

"What is all the fuss about?", I wondered as I knocked my tee shot down the 364-yard par-four second and lopped a wedge shot towards the target.

I thought I had placed it perfectly in front of the green but it rolled on and on into the trap just behind the hole.

On one knee, I swished my 58 wedge and the ball rested six feet from the flag. Job done? Nah, the putt seemed destined for the middle of the cup but then swerved unexpectedly to the right.

Welcome to Coombe Hill.

Seriously, I thought that the chatter over the greens unfairly overshadowed this course's many other attributes.

I loved its detail, pristine paths and steps, wonderful criss-cross patterns on its fairways, great bunker detail and concentration on picturesque challenges on every hole.

The third sets the tone for the uphill holes - a long bending par-four with bunkers lurking to devour loose drives before an ascent to a left-to-right green perched above traps and rough.

The fifth is a corking par-five with sand on either side of a fairway which gradually rises to a target defended by bunkers on the right and an overhanging tree on the left.

I had made a promising start and momentum carried forward to the sixth, a super downhill par-three with a bowl at the front of the green awaiting those who don't select enough club.

I was thrilled to see my shot zip over it before resting an inch off the green on the same tier as the flag. Inevitably, a three-putt followed.

The reason Coombe Hill is so named becomes most obvious over the next holes with the seventh, a fairly gentle downwards curving par-four followed by the fiendish upwards stroke-index one, par-four eighth.

By the time, it was clear that, despite being shorter than most of its Surrey neighbours, scoring is at a premium here.

However, I was hanging in until the par-three ninth, a cracking hole which sweeps down to a barely visible brook before rising to a green with a dramatic left-to-right slope.

I didn't have the full experience because I fatted my tee shot into the drink but it is a heck of a hole.

On the 10th there is a probably unique if not very rare feature - a Second World War crater which is part of the course.

A post marks the spot at which a bomb fell and a blind drive up and over it will give the opportunity of a fairly comfortable chip towards the hole.

What goes down must come up and so we were then faced with a dramatic incline towards the 11th and a fascinatingly angled green curving around from the left. Two of our bunch recorded pars and I could only doff my cap in admiration.

Indeed, by this time, I felt like an athlete who had gone off at a gallop but was now in danger of being lapped.

The 12th hole is a mind-bending par-three with bunkers protecting a steep false-fronted green. It has apparently been made easier by the removal of rhododendron but I would not have noticed.

The relatively short, bending par-fours on the 13th and 14th should have yielded opportunities but I was so unnerved with approaches to the target that I was short on the former and found a sandy grave on the latter.

Coombe Hill yields an opportunity on the 15th - when the terrain descends again for a risk-and-reward par-five with a brook standing between big hitters and finding the green in two.

Meanwhile, the 16th plays every one of its 396 yards as the course climbs for the final time between bunkers up to another tilting putting surface.

After being in the doldrums with my game for a couple of holes, I was determined to strike back and was the only player of our quarter to hold the green on the par-three 17th.

Admittedly, I was right at the back but was highly satisfied with a long putt which appeared destined to stop next to the pin.

But, just as it appeared that it was coming to rest, the ball slipped on a further 10 feet and, inevitably I missed the return putt.

Thankfully, our host was my partner and he had been advising me on our road to glorious victory.

His final wisdom came on the 18th tee when he cautioned against tee shots down the left-hand side. Imagine my shock when two of my betters saw their drives go out of bounds and mine trundle down the middle.

I was in a state of near ecstasy when I followed that with an iron into the green, leaving me a birdie putt. Of course, it slid by the hole but this time I earned par.

It completed a memorable day played in great weather in superb company on a track which is manicured as well as anywhere I have seen.

Coombe Hill was on top of its game even if I wasn't.

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Jun 28, 2023

Great article Neil - so interesting to see the course described through the eyes of a visitor, especially one who has travelled the golf courses of the UK as extensively as you. It was a pleasure to host you - and you are welcome back any time.

Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page