In any other county, Tandridge Golf Club would be a jewel in the crown, but such are the riches of top class Surrey golf courses, it’s perhaps a course less familiar to some. Nevertheless, a classic traditional English golf club, Tandridge opened its doors back in 1924, and is privileged to bear the hallmark of the world respected Harry Colt as its architect. Located near Oxted, just off the southern stretch of the M25, it is easily accessible from London and all surrounding counties.
With both parkland and woodland characteristics throughout, comparing it to Surrey’s heathland set (as some people do) is irrelevant, but instead, perhaps a better judgment would be to simply mention it in the same breath as some of Harry Colt’s other courses – Broadstone, Burnham & Berrow, and Stoke Park, for instance.
Recently, a deliberate return to the original Colt philosophy has been adopted at Tandridge, with great investment being made in reshaping the bunkers in particular. The result is aesthetically fantastic, with the surrounding rougher fescue grasses really defining many of the bunkers, whilst the holes now seem to be framed superbly.
At times, the views that extend across the Surrey, Kent, and Sussex countryside are wonderful, but with elevation inevitably come wind, and a notable feature of the course is the constant shift in direction between the holes. Gauging this wind, and of course playing it, creates an enjoyable challenge, and is perhaps one of the reasons why the modest 6,509 yardage is no push over. Another comes courtesy of the varied undulation changes. At times these are subtle, elsewhere severe, but they always enhance the routing of the course, and perhaps most importantly, the enjoyment.
Little surprise then, that Tandridge is a course that necessitates refreshments after play, and the charming Tudor-style clubhouse is the perfect setting in which to relax. If the situation allows, the Tandridge Lunch is an absolute must, having earned a sterling reputation over the years. Indeed it’s probably incentive enough to visit the Club, but combined with a top class golf course to boot, Tandridge must be one of the preeminent golf club experiences in the South East.
The gently ascending slope on the dog leg Par 4 3rd hole is more apparent when looking back from the green, and whilst the tee shot may not look particularly daunting, it’s worth noting that the fairway bunkers are teasingly placed for a thoughtless drive. That said, hitting past the corner of the dog leg is a must, and it’s still all uphill to the green.
There’s plenty of fairway to aim at from the tee at the Par 5 9th, and a solid hit may well leave a chance to get home in two. The second shot hints at the undulations that are more pronounced on the latter half of the round, but whether you’re hitting the blind shot up over the mounds towards the distant raised green, or laying up short of the imposing bunker, this is certainly one of the highlights of the round, and an extremely picturesque spot in front of the Clubhouse.
The run of holes from 12 – 14 demonstrate the variety that makes Tandridge so special. There’s pressure on the tee shot at the Par 5 12th, courtesy of a sharp dog leg right that limits the attacking options of anything not in prime position. Although short for a Par 5, it’s a steady climb throughout the 475 yards, and several grassy knolls in front of the raised green that provide enough complexity to ensure the hole is no pushover.
Arguably the greatest test on the course, the long Par 3 13th hole is a beautifully photogenic, but devilishly difficult golf hole. Measuring well over 200 yards from the back tees, several bunkers lie in wait of anything aimed down the left side, which, courtesy of the dramatic drop offs both short, right, and long of the green, make it the preferred line of play. A three here is something to cherish, not least for the fact that the impending view down the signature 14th hole is something of a distraction.
From a new elevated tee, the drive from 14 drops spectacularly down the fairway towards a distant creek, prior to rising back up the hill to a green that sits high beyond a trio of bunkers. It’s a breathtaking sight, but a tough hole, with any wayward tee shots being exaggerated by the extra hang time, and the uphill approach being undoubtedly played from a downhill lie.
Above all, Tandridge is a thoroughly good test of golf, with the changes in direction and elevation always probing the thought processes. It’s picturesque too, with rugged bunkers and mature woodland constantly on show, not to mention the views that stretch for miles across the countryside at certain points on the course.
Arguably being one of Surrey’s understated clubs is an ideal scenario, as a degree of anonymity perhaps creates a special atmosphere that you wouldn’t want to dilute. I sense Tandridge are perfectly comfortable with this position, and indeed may have purposely achieved this ambience. Either way, there is little doubt it’s a fantastic Club to be a member of, and plleasingly it’s also a fine venue for a visitor – I was warmly welcomed by both members and staff alike.
As an experience, the course alone is thoroughly enjoyable, but there’s no doubt that to fully appreciate Tandridge is only possible when indulging in their outstanding lunch as well. If you live anywhere in the South East, it’s a top class day out worth making.