Knole Park Golf Club Course Review

A fine layout set over a spacious parcel of extremely attractive and undulating parkland

Knole Park Golf
The par-3 16th at Knole Park
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Knole Park Golf Club Course Review

GF From £75 to £120
Par 70, 6,205 yards
Slope 127
GM Verdict – An excellent and highly individual golf course set across a beautiful, rolling deer park.
Favourite Hole – 15th. A great par-5 where you drive to a fairway lined by bracken that turns right and up to an elevated putting surface.

Knole Park Golf

The uphill 3rd

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

J.F Abercromby was responsible for a selection of highly regarded courses, and his distinctive design at Knole Park dates back to 1924. It runs over a spacious parcel of extremely attractive and gently undulating parkland that’s blessed with soft, springy turf. Every hole is different, memorable and enjoyable, with great variety and individuality. With six par 3s, tricky doglegs and plateau greens, there are plenty of challenges to negotiate. The setting is fantastic with an amazing array of trees and blankets of bracken. Next door is Knole House. Once the palace of an archbishop, it has been occupied by the Sackville family for over 400 years. 

Knole park golf

The 4th with deer in the foreground

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

During a round, one will generally encounter some of the many graceful fallow and sika deer that live on the estate but which do surprisingly little damage to the course. The course starts with a testing par-3 of nearly 200 yards. Then, after the relatively straightforward 2nd, starts a very tough stretch of holes. The 3rd is a great hole, turning to the left to an elevated green. From a high tee, the 4th sweeps to the left to a putting surface protected by bunkers in front and water behind. 

Knole Park golf

The par-3 8th

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

The 5th is another hard par-3 played over a valley before the course opens up onto the higher portion of the park offering views of the big house.

Knole Park golf

The par-5 15th

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

The back nine features some excellent holes, the long par-4 11th turning right around an impressive stand of oaks, the wonderful 14th where the second shot is played down to a green that sits in a bowl. There are two par-5s near the death – the 15th and 17th which can make or break a score. Then it’s back to the clubhouse via the 18th – another strong par-4. Knole Park is a brilliant layout in a superb setting, offering an excellent test of golf.

Rob Smith on Knole Park

Way before I was lucky enough to work in golf, I knew about Knole Park Golf Club as it was on the roster of a society with which I played. Back in the 80s and 90s, we would spend a day here every two or three years, and I have been coming back on and off ever since, writing about it on more than one occasion for Golf Monthly.

Knole Park - an idyllic setting in Kent

Knole Park - an idyllic setting in Kent

One of the limited but highly-regarded designs of JF Abercromby, the course dates back to 1924 and runs over a large expanse of gently undulating, soft, springy turf. Rather unusually, it opens with a short hole, but this then tends to keep play moving at a good pace.

The opening par 3 calls for a well-struck shot

The opening par 3 calls for a well-struck shot

The 3rd is the first real feature hole, an inviting drive down the hill and back up the other side to a green that needs no bunkers for protection.

The semi-blind drive down into the dip at three

The semi-blind drive down into the dip at three

The next is also played from an elevated tee, but is a great deal more intimidating with a sea of ferns on the right and trees guarding the corner of the dogleg on the left.

Hole 4 - probably the most demanding drive on the course

Hole 4 - probably the most demanding drive on the course

The fifth is a cracking par 3, more severely uphill than the opening hole and played to a green in a wonderful, natural setting.

The fifth green is perfectly located

The fifth green is perfectly located

At the next, you get your first sight of the ornate and historic Knole House, a National Trust property packed with treasures that more than warrant a visit.

Knole House, once an archbishop's palace, overlooks the 6th hole

Knole House, once an archbishop's palace, overlooks the 6th hole

To my mind, the prettiest of the six short holes is the downhill 8th which has ponds on the left and views over to 11, 12 and 13.

The very attractive downhill par-3 8th

The very attractive downhill par-3 8th

The next three holes take you to and around the furthest part of the course, and another memorable feature of a round at Knole is the many, very attractive deer that roam the 1,000 acre estate. I have seldom if ever witnessed any damage to the course as a result, and the more bold and/or foolhardy among them allow you to get very close indeed.

Mark Roe?!

The deer at Knole Park are an eye-catching bonus

Twelve is another appealing but demanding short hole, probably the toughest on the course and usually requiring a wood. Even if you make the green, 2-putting is no pushover.

Hole 12 - the toughest par-3 at Knole Park

Hole 12 - the toughest par-3 at Knole Park

As you head for home; there's a really tough par 4 at fourteen but birdie chances at the two lovely par 5s at fifteen and seventeen.

The long 17th wends its way to a raised green

The long 17th wends its way to a raised green

The closing hole leads you back down to earth and the charming clubhouse via another protective pond, and it’s then time for a beer and a chance to reflect on how very different and distinctive each of the holes really is.

The scenic closing hole is protected by a pond

The scenic closing hole is protected by a pond

Knole Park is a course and indeed a club that I enjoyed on my first visit, and it has grown steadily in my estimation ever since. I very much hope to keep returning to this exceptionally pretty corner of Kent.

A view of the fifth - the English countryside at its best

A view of the fifth - the English countryside at its best
Fergus Bisset
Fergus Bisset

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?