Purley Downs is a well established private members club, full of tradition & history but well tuned with the 21st century.
The natural landscape where sheep used to graze over 100 years ago, provide a perfect setting for a challenging game where no 2 holes are the same. The chalky grounds of the North downs permits all year round play, this is certainly a course to put on your list of "winter month play".
In 1894, a nine hole golf course by J H Taylor made use of the contours to provide an enjoyable golf game with spectacular views on every hole. 10 years later it become a full 18 holes. Very few changes since then: few bunkers were added and 2 new tee boxes were constructed to meet the modern day challenges. Bylaws restrict the membership to 300 full playing members, so the course is rarely crowded.
The fairways are excellent, hardly any divots, I saw some greenkeepers raking twigs off the fairways, it was immaculate indeed. The greens were superb, true, fast and sometimes intimidating.Bunkers were well designed and placed, Very few have standing water. Lovely soft sand.The paths to the next tee boxes are well defined. Ball washers/towels at every tee. There are some fairways that crosses so takes extra care when playing certain holes, there are signs to indicate the crossings.
The 1st hole, Par 3, Yellow 160 yards, (signature hole), raised Tee, downhill to a securely guarded green encircled by tall trees, truly awesome. It sets the scene for the rest of the other 17 holes. They will give you surprises, wonderful view over London landmarks (St Pauls, BT Tower, Battersea Power station, Shard etc),views of local Croydon and even Windsor Castle on a bright sunny day like today (7.2.2014). Nothing is flat, so be prepared for a good workout, ball below feet, uphill/downhill lies. You will be puffing and looking forward to that pint/or coffee at the 19th hole !
There is a half way hut but it was not opened today.
There is a lovely feel about Purley Downs: a warm welcome in the Proshop that is well equipped. Our 3 balls met the Head Pro/Club Manager (Scot Graham) on the course and later in the Clubhouse where we had a pleasant chat.The Clubhouse is large, has several rooms, full of natural light and offers wonderful views over the 1st Tee, 9th & 18th greens, so does the very pleasant veranda with classy garden furniture. Bar staff are friendly. Everyone seems happy. The drinks/food are very reasonable indeed. I can recommend the "Home Made Burger" with all the trimmings.
Members are friendly too. I had the privilege to meet one, Mr Ronald M., who gave up his game of snooker (yes there are 2 full size snooker tables on the 1st floor, for members'use)and took me round the whole of the Clubhouse to show me the Memorabilia, explains some of the history etc. the links with the famous Royal Blackheath GC (no mention of Judy L. though !!!), French golf course near Paris etc.. the trophies won... and of course the names of Vardon, Braid, Henry Cotton, Alf Padgahm, Harry Weetman, Tony Jacklin were mentioned and their photos/pictures on the wall. Must mention a truly admirable tapestry that celebrates the Centenary of the Club: it is the Women Section, every playing member is represented and has its name signed in embroidery. Very impressive indeed & artistic.
Ladies changing room is in the Main building, large, pleasant, well equipped. Men changing room is in the same building as the Proshop by the Big Car Park. Practice facilities: green by the clubhouse and 1st tee. Driving range. chipping behind the Proshop on the right handside of the 1st green. It was a lovely discovery, with 2 new, friendly TSG members and they too liked the course and cannot wait to return.
I must thank a certain Mr John A. who kindly enquired for me (back in October 2013) as to favourable rates for TSG members when I first discovered Purley Downs whilst driving to another golf course nearby. Today, I did negotiate a very good rate too. County cards are accepted and I believe there are some deals to be had if you book on line and pay in advance, but I personally prefer to book on the phone and pay on the day. Not sure what else I could write, so I better stop.
PS: I did post some photos on my Album.
Date Wednesday, 26, February 2014