On the tee
Within a 10 minute walk of Epsom Downs train station, you will find the old red brick clubhouse of Epsom Golf Club. On the South side of Epsom, it is easily accessible from London by both road and rail. The course is laid out across various sectors separated by a number of roads, which require crossing between holes. From the white tees, the course is a modest 5,780 yards (5,285m) but is much more challenging than the 5,490 yards when played from the yellow tees. There are four par-3s, two par-5s and twelve par-4s which make up the par-70 course. Being set at the top of the Epsom Downs, the course offers unparalleled views of the London skyline and, whilst certain holes have significant elevation changes, the gradients are always manageable.
We played the course early in the morning and the condition of the course was good. The tee boxes were cut short; although a few tee boxes looked like they could have done with a rest.
The fairways were in good condition (if a little dry), but looked very smart having been freshly mowed. The first cut of rough was generously short and easy to play from, and whilst it would have been difficult to lose a ball in the second cut of rough, the wispy, heathery grass did mean that a shot from the thicker stuff was challenging.
There were no bunkers on the course other than on the 18th hole, and even then it is difficult to find the sand as they both sit behind hedges guarding the green. Instead of using bunkers to guard the putting surface and pins, the course relies heavily on the contours of the land for defence.
The greens were good, if a little inconsistent, but offered a stern test of putting skill. The quickness of the greens, coupled with their undulations, meant that there were very few straight putts hit. The aforementioned inconsistency of the greens sometimes resulted in well hit putts not fully getting the reward they deserved (however it did sometimes mean that poorly hit putts were not so severely punished). Whilst we appreciate that getting 18 greens to run at the same speed is exceptionally hard to achieve, particularly given the different sectors of land used, it would have been more enjoyable to have them all run at the same pace.
Before playing at Epsom, we had concerns that there were a few very short par-4s that could have been Mickey Mouse holes, and ruined the experience. However, two of the short par-4s (8th and 16th) were perhaps the most well designed and challenging holes on the course. They were both exceptionally narrow and tree lined, and there were further strategically placed trees that meant going for the green in one was very difficult. The greens were also amongst the smallest on the course and the undulations repelled a number of approach shots to the rough surrounding the putting surface. Our advice would be to put the driver away, take your medicine and make simple pars.
There are a number of different segments that make up Epsom Golf Course separated by relatively busy roads. Whilst the roads do not offer a substantial distraction in terms of noise, it can be off-putting when you only have 10-15 yards between the fairway and road, as is the case on a number of holes. These roads also need to be crossed 6 times during the round and care should be taken to ensure that it is safe to cross, as the traffic drives surprisingly quickly on them.
The final point to watch out for is that the 17th and 18th holes share a tee box. After teeing off at the 17th, leave your bag at the tee and take your putter/ wedge if required up to the green and finish the hole before walking back up the very steep hill to the tee box to take your tee shot at the 18th.
Better than most
There were a couple of standout holes that we really enjoyed. The layout of the course was both entertaining and varied, with the par-3s being relatively short and a good mix of short par-4s and longer par-4s.
A highlight hole was the 520 yard par-5 15th hole. This hole was stroke index 2 and a real challenge. The hole starts with a relatively straight tee shot up the hill, where there is thick rough and a road (which is out of bounds) down the left hand side. This means the right hand side should be used as the escape plan off the tee. A well-struck drive will result in an uphill second shot of approximately 220-40 yards to the green, which is a slight dog-leg left from your tee shot The sensible play is to use a medium iron to progress up the fairway leaving a wedge into the green. The green is heavily sloped from back to front, so make sure you are brave and land the ball well on the it to avoid rolling off the front.
The 6th hole (443 yard, stroke index 9 par-4) is also worthy of mention. The fairway is very wide and plays entirely downhill. The tee box offers the best view of London on the course. If the tee shot is well struck, it will leave a 7 or 8 iron across a valley of thick rough to a receptive green and is a relatively simple birdie opportunity on a long par-4.
Weekday Round – £29
Weekend Round – £35
Member’s Guest – £20/£25 (weekend)
HotShotGolf Score – 57/100
Planning your trip to Epsom? Why not check out some accommodation options here!
Epsom Golf Club
Longdown Lane South,
Epsom Downs, Surrey, KT17 4JR
Tel: +44 1372 721666