One of the oldest 9 hole course in England & the friendliest......
Brace yourself, this is going a long review due to its history and the "coolest" Proshop....
Eltham Warren has been on my list since I became interested in history of golf courses/clubs, not just the length of the course or the Green Fee. So when a Ladies Invitation appeared on a famous FB page, I quickly got in touch with the Organiser to get a place , hence my visit on Tuesday 5th October 2021.
Dating back to 1890, when a few friends played "nature" golf on 6 holes in a field, the Warren, and managed the upkeep themselves. The course grew and become a full 9 holes extending the playing area, it was designed by the well renowned golf architect & Open Champion, James Braid. Just the name of JB means it is going to be a very interesting and testing course, not a long course but strategically places ponds, ditches and bunkers a la James Braid where course management is the key.
From the Red Tees the course is just under 5300 yards with 4 Par 5, 4 Par 3, the rest Par 4, downhill, uphill, sloping lies, some big craters & dips, tight fairways, lots of mature trees, some blind Tee shots and a few dog legs right. Played as an 18 holes, there are different Tee positions. A course for all class of golfers, in good condition despite the previous night's heavy rain. Lots of eco friendly touches, ponds, duck houses, bug hotels, log piles and carved wooden signage. A real haven of peace in Eltham.
The fairways were well defined with lush rough, Greens were a little slow but certainly very interesting, bunkers had good layers of sand but some had standing water from the previous night downpour, in fact the course had closed for a few hours early morning but reopened just before lunch time.
Most memorable holes for me:
1st/10th: Par 3 uphill over a huge crater like dip, bunkers on each side of the Green, steep climb to the 2nd Tee.
5th/14th, the signature hole, Par 4 with bouncing fairways, providing a links feel, a large pond making attacking the 3 tiered Green a real challenge and decision time, as it can be played from left of right too.
8th/17th: great design with some unsuspected large dip before the Green (the dip being part of the Open Air Driving Range).
Worth mentioning too is the 7th/16th: long Par 3 (from the Whites and Yellows), uphill, with lots of little mounts surrounding the Green where the ball can bounce onto the Green or the other direction!
An unusual set up where one has to hit over the 2nd Fairway to a landing area which is If I recall in a large flat, but in a dip area of the 8th/17th hole, Par 5. Use of Driving range is obviously at certain times only for safety reasons.
Practice nets, Putting Green near the 1st, a further Putting Green by outdoor seating area of the main lounge.
You will be amazed, this is truly the "coolest proshop" as described in Today's Golfer magazine a few years ago. I believe it is the original wooden building where the inside exposed timbers show real workmanship, and is also used to hang some of the remarkable golf memorabilia. In fact, this is a golf Museum, one must take time to look at the incredible collection & display that the friendly Pro, Gary Brett, has amassed over his 25+ years at Eltham Warren. Over 2000 logo golf balls from all over the world, golf mugs, hickory clubs, old putters, original small leather bags, retro vinyl golf bags etc.... .Gary could see my interest & kindly provided me with literature, sort of hidden in a cupboard, & photocopies of the article from Todays Golfers magazine mentioned above, all very useful for my research.
Gary has a small workshop where he refurbished valuable old putters, regrips clubs etc.
Gary had a brilliant golf career, could have been a Tour Pro but chose to make Eltham Warren his workplace as he is more of a "people person" and one can see that from the welcome you receive.
A traditional, warm & light with a modern touch & a "double-sided" bar. Apparently there is billiard room but I did not have time to explore. Large glass doors opening onto a pleasant terrace over looking the main Practice Green.
Large well lit Car Park.
Eltham Warren is situated in South East London (a few minutes from Royal Blackheath GC), easily accessible both from London & Motorways.
A short course, but one full of history, certainly worth a visit, you will be guaranteed a very warm welcome as I personally believe it is the friendliest Club I have ever played at.
As with all of my reviews, this is a very personal write up sharing my research & knowledge for all the true golfers to appreciate.
Published in TheSocialGolfer.com October 2021