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John Abercromby’s legacy may be relatively low numerically, but it’s sky high in quality
5 Of The Best JF Abercromby Courses
The gently undulating heathland and pine-clad course at The Addington (pictured above) dates back to 1913 and is where Abercromby ended his days some 22 years later. Not trained as an architect, his philosophy was very visual with bunkers and greens going where instinct dictated. The Addington is one of his most attractive designs, with six wildly differing short holes and wooden bridges over the many ravines.
Despite a sympathetic makeover 15 years ago by Donald Steel and Tom MacKenzie, this delightful parkland course is still very much an Abercromby design. And while the later holes offer much to enjoy, it is the opening magnificent seven that will live longest in the memory. Each question accuracy and distance control as they involve one or more encounters with the delightful but serpentine River Bovey.
The gently sloping holes at Coombe Hill near Wimbledon, Abercromby’s second design, opened for play in 1911. With the holes lined by beautiful mature trees, it is remarkably peaceful for somewhere so close to central London. There are many talking points, including fast, subtly sloping greens, and the four short holes are all extremely strong. This is a beautiful place for a game of golf.
Dating back to 1924, the course is blessed with a beautiful setting in a gently undulating deer park. Next door is palatial Knole House, and despite some lengthening half a century ago, the course is pretty much as it was. Every hole is different and distinct and there are six par 3s. Two of the prettiest are the 5th, which is played over a valley, and the downhill 8th, which is flanked by ponds and bracken.
This was Abercromby’s maiden voyage in course design in 1908, thus proving that some people really can get things right first time. Assisted by Willie Park Junior, specifically on bunker and green construction, the result is a timeless, heathland classic that continues to delight and test golfers of every standard. As at a number of courses nearby, a game here is very much a journey back in time.
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