We make a long overdue return to Wiltshire during August.
Tom Dunn, who was the Tooting Bec professional at the time, extended Bath’s original 9 hole course on part of Hampton Down to a full 18-hole layout in the early 1880s and he certainly knew how to use the natural contours of a hilltop location. J. H. Taylor recommended further expansion in 1906 using ground from the adjoining ladies course. Harry Colt modifications (which included the construction of the current 10th and 11th holes) were completed at the end of the 1930s to fashion the course that is still in play over ninety years later.
Sham Castle, as the club is known locally, is set out adjacent to a former stone quarry that operated on high ground overlooking the town of Bath. Now measuring 6464 yards from the white tees the course is full of variety and is laid out over fine golfing country. Springy downland turf over shallow soil and limestone ensures rapid draining and the course is usually in superb condition.
With only two par fives and three short holes on the scorecard, the strength of the layout is found in its par fours, the most memorable being the short 17th which doglegs right and upwards to a well defended, two-tiered green.
Founded in 1880, Kingsdown Golf Club is one of the oldest clubs in England with only Westward Ho! predating it in the West of England. Blessed with the free-draining qualities of its downland location the course remains in play all year round.
A year after being founded, the club opened another course at the Warren in Bath, where the current Bath Golf Club course is located. A name change to Bath & Kingsdown Golf Club followed shortly after but the Kingsdown Club was re-established in 1890, a decade after it had first been formed. C.K. Cotton’s design company was called in to set out a new 18-hole layout after some of the course had reverted back to agricultural land during the Second World War. In more recent times Simon Gidman and then Mackenzie & Ebert made further changes.
There is only one par three on the outward half, the 144-yard 4th, playing to a multi-tiered offset green that’s guarded by out of bounds to the left and old quarry workings to the right of the green. The 412-yard 6th is rated stroke index 1 on the scorecard with a lengthy carry off the tee before it doglegs left to the green. The 364-yard 13th is another tough hole, requiring an accurate tee shot through a chute of trees before the sloping fairway bends left towards a green which is protected by a tree on the left and two bunkers on the right. Regarded as a signature hole, the par three 17th is also very tight, played from elevated tees to a green flanked by bunkers on either side.
Kingsdown 4th Green