Purley Downs Course Review

With plenty of variety, excellent greens and elevated views to London in the north, Purley Downs has much to offer. Rob Smith reports…

The opening hole at Purley Downs is a wonderful par 3
(Image credit: Andy Hiseman andy@hiseman.com)

With plenty of variety, excellent greens and elevated views to London in the north, Purley Downs has much to offer. Rob Smith reports…

Purley Downs Course Review

Surrey is packed with famous golfing names and more Golf Monthly Top 100 courses than any other county. Away from the limelight, there is an extremely strong supporting cast and Purley Downs Golf Club is blessed with a very attractive, interesting and enjoyable course that is kept in excellent condition.

It was designed by JH Taylor of Royal Birkdale fame, and unusually, the course opens with a short hole… but what a par 3! It’s an absolute beauty played from high on the slope just outside the clubhouse down to a green surrounded by bunkers and run-offs.

The elevated tee at the first presents a very appealing challenge

There is a short climb to the second tee before you work your way up the hole to the green which will come as some relief as it will generally play quite a bit longer than its yardage.

The sanctuary of the green at the uphill second

The 3rd runs right to left, and the 4th is the second short hole before you encounter the first par 5 which is probably reachable for the longer hitters, though obviously not me!

The par-5 fifth has OOB on the right all the way

A pair of strong par 4s come next, and the 8th is another very appealing and quite unusual par 3 which plays deceptively long as the cross bunker is a long way short of the centre of the green.

The short eighth is played across a valley to an excellent green site

The drive at the 9th is inviting but you will probably need an extra club for the approach as it is up the slope.

The front nine concludes with a strong two-shotter

Some people feel that downland golf equates to strenuous walking, and although this may occasionally be the case at some courses, it is really not so at Purley Downs where the gentle rise at the 2nd and slightly more heart-pumping climb at the 10th is as tough as it gets.

Looking back from the tenth green

The par-4 11th takes you to the lowest point of the course where the second of the two long holes hugs the railway line to the right. Shaping a shot from right to left here can be a real bonus, and it is one of many attractive holes played to a green cut into the hillside.

The par-5 twelfth slopes from left to right

The next two head up and down the slope and you then come to the final par 3. Although short, it is vital both to be straight, and to select the correct club.

The green at the final short hole is surrounded by sand

A short par 4 and a dogleg right lead you to the final tee where another very inviting drive awaits. As at nine, it is important to take enough club on your second shot to reach the green.

The closing hole with the welcoming terrace and veranda nearby

Dating back to 1894, Purley Downs is a fine club with the friendliest members and a remarkably free-draining course that is the envy of many. I’ve been lucky enough to play here regularly over the years and it has grown on me every time. If you’ve not yet been, I can very much recommend that you do!

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for 45 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,200 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during that year, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but seven and a half... i.e. not the new 9 at Carne! During the 2021-22 review period, Rob played 36 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.