“ Chelsfield Lakes Golf Centre / Court Road / Orpington / Kent / BR6 9BX / England / Telephone: 01689 896 266 „
Chelsfield Lakes Golf Club
A good walk spoiled is how one man once described golf but he was obviously a fool as there are few better ways to pass the time than by playing this most majestic of sports. In my part of the world we are spoilt for choice when it comes to courses and there are ones to suit all standards and pockets.
Chelsfield Lakes is a pleasant pay and play course that will satisfy most golfers from beginners to good players. Very low handicappers may not find it enough of a challenge but for us mere mortals it has more than enough to keep us interested without ruining our confidence.
The lakes of the title is bit misleading as there are only two on the course. One is far to the left of the 16th and doesnt come into play but the other is large and runs between the 9th and 18th fairways and most definitely comes into play.
The course is located on Court Road, close to Junction 4 of the M25. Set against a rural background it gives the impression of being man made. That is when it was constructed the designers took a piece of open land and built the course fairways, rough and trees from scratch rather than carving it out of pre-existing forest or countryside. Set on quite high ground, relative to the surrounding area, it can be subjected to fairly strong winds and feel quite exposed.
The club has a large but not particularly well stocked pro shop. It has pretty much everything you need pre-round but nothing to encourage you to pay a visit when youre not playing. There is an adequate driving range but its a bit scruffy and again is unlikely to draw you in if youre not playing. The minimum delivery is frustratingly set at 50 balls which is rather a lot for a pre-round warm up.
Alongside the full size course there is a passable 9 hole pitch and putt course.
The clubhouse is modern and spacious with a welcoming bar and eating area. The food is typical pub fare but acceptable for all that. These facilities can be hired for weddings and parties and seem quite popular so I assume are of a pretty good standard. The changing areas are clean and modern.
Societies are welcome and well looked after with coffee and sandwiches on arrival and a nice two course meal after the game.
The course is not the longest around but it is thoughtfully laid out with several holes requiring a degree of planning and shot selection that will satisfy the regulars. This is something of a members course in that on many holes prior knowledge is definitely an advantage, shots that are not obvious to the newcomer will be played by the regular on at least three holes.
On a couple of the holes the rough has been cut back significantly in recent years and although making a couple tricky holes that much easier it does remove some of the challenge and this is a shame.
The buggy paths around the tees are well made, and the tees themselves are flat and well rotated so dont suffer from much wear and tear considering the heavy traffic this popular course attracts. The greens are OK, while you wont be cursing any dodgy rolls they are not of the highest standard. The landscaping is kept clean and tidy and there is nothing in the environment that will disappoint.
Green Fees and Memberships~
Monday to Thursday the green fees are £20, rising to £22 on Fridays and a rather steep £29 at weekends. Twilight golf is available at just over half price. There are a range of memberships (supported by various promotions) available which carry the normal benefits youd expect.
Hole 1 320 Yds Par 4
A gentle opening to the round the first hole is a short par 4 that plays even shorter due to the fairway running downhill all the way to the green. There are sparse trees running the length of the left hand side and a group of trees on the right at about 200 yards. This is the first of the members holes and regulars will be aiming just to the left of the group of trees and hoping for a good bounce and run towards the green. Large bunkers to the left and right of the green provide the protection against this approach. My score: 6; despite driving pin high two visits to the bunkers put paid to a good score.
Hole 2 180 Yds Par 3
A long par 3 that plays even longer due to the elevated green. A well hit mid to long iron is required but there is plenty of short rough around the green so that wayward shots arent penalised. A tough hole to par but you shouldnt come a cropper. My score: 4; never threatened par with a five iron 20 yards to the right of the green.
Hole 3 338 Yds Par 4
The second of the members holes this features a sharp dog leg right that makes the tee shot a tricky decision. Hit a straight drive too far and you could run off down a treacherous bank on the outside of the dog leg, lay up and you have a lengthy approach to a well protected green. In the past the inside of the dog leg was protected by very thick gorse that made attacking it a brave choice but now the rough has been cut back to a playable length the attacking drive is very much an option and one most regulars would attempt. The only danger is that once your ball clears the bank inside the dog leg it goes out of view and will be landing across a narrow fairway increasing the chances of a lost ball. A well hit drive here could leave you an excellent birdie chance. My score: 5; a good drive over the dog leg let down by an approach finding a bunker.
Hole 4 343 Yds Par 4
A carbon copy of the previous hole with the same shortcut available to regulars. Again the thick rough inside the dog leg has been removed inviting an attacking drive but with the same risks. A stroke index of 1 is misleading now that the rough has been removed. My score: 5; another good drive over the dog leg but scuppered by a fluffed chip.
Hole 5 144 Yds Par 3
A nice short par 3, but one that could potentially ruin a round. The green can be reached with a gentle short iron but there are several problems to take into account. The hole is very exposed so cross winds can be a factor, the green is protected by a number of tricky bunkers and to the right is thick rough. Finally, a steep bank slopes down from the left of the green in even thicker rough so accuracy is paramount. My score: 6; A wayward tee shot down the bank to the left had me in all sorts of trouble.
Hole 6 500 Yds Par 5
A straightforward par 5 with no hidden dangers or particular challenges. The rough on either side is pretty thick and nasty but the fairway is wide and flat. The bunkers around the green are not threatening and no good shots will be punished. My score: 5; Played in regulation.
Hole 7 495 Yds Par 5
Similar to the previous hole the rough on either side is tough to escape but the fairway is still broad and flat. The challenge comes nearer the pin as the small green is protected on the fairway side by a wide, deep bunker meaning that approach shots will need to be planned and some courage required. My score: 4; A rare birdie following a long putt.
Hole 8 299 Yds Par 4
The last of the members holes, this short 4 will tempt regulars into opening their shoulders and having a go at the green. Protection is offered by the fairway rising steeply from the tee for 100 yards before opening very wide up to the green, which is unsighted from the tee. With no bunkers protecting the green this is a hole to be attacked with little risk. My score: 4; Slightly disappointing par as a 40 yard approach is topped to the edge of the green.
Hole 9 361 Yds Par 4
A rather pretty hole with the large lake eating into the fairway from the right. Out of range off the tee for all except the big hitters it will dominate your view and your thoughts on your second shot. Any tee shot drifting right will mean a 150 yard carry over the water onto the green if youre brave enough. My score: 5; A good drive to the left of the water but approach missed the green.
Hole 10 355 Yds Par 4
With a very wide fairway this hole feels a lot shorter than it is and is quite straight forward, bunkers to the right of the green providing the only test of accuracy. A gravel track crossing at 200 yards provides a nice benchmark to measure your driving against. Incidentally, this hole witnessed probably my worst ever shot. The clubhouse is set about 60 yards forward and 100 yards wide of the tee but I still managed to slice a drive onto the roof. To make matters worse this was a society day and there were about 30 colleagues watching. It was that shot that made me buy the golf instruction video which is the subject of a previous review. My score: 4; Good drive and approach but missed a 10 footer for birdie.
Hole 11 312 Yds Par 4
This hole should be pretty easy but over the years it has been something of a horror story for me. Not quite a dog leg it curves gently to the right from tee to green. In previous years there was a bank inside the curve with very thick rough and any ball in there was definitely lost, and believe me I lost a lot of balls in there when my slice was at its worst. At one point I was even reduced to playing a 7 iron off the tee just to keep away from it. Now, as with holes 3 and 4, the rough has been cut back to near fairway length and with no bunkers to speak of it is now rather toothless and justifies its stroke index of 18. My score: 5:A topped drive left me too much to do to make par.
Hole 12 328 Yds Par 4
A rare dog leg left this hole plays a lot longer than its yardage and is really quite tricky. With out of bounds hugging the inside of the dog leg an aggressive drive is a brave choice while hitting straight risks over running the fairway and ending up in trees. With plenty of bunkers around the green there is no easy way to play this one and pars are rare as a result. My score: 6; Straight drive into those trees forced me to play out sideways and I never recovered.
Hole 13 493 Yds Par 5
With many of the par 4s being so short these par 5s feel a lot longer than they actually are. This one is straight but has a few traps to catch the loose shots. There are trees to the left and right although the target area is quite wide. Your drive will need to carry 150 yards to reach the fairway and there are several bunkers at 400 yards to snaffle even well hit second shots. There are bunkers on either side of the long, thin green which mean that it will only be reached with three good shots. My score: 6; A 5 wood second into rough gave me a tough approach which I left short of the green.
Hole 14 301 Yds Par 4
Into the woods with this one as tall trees flank the fairway for about 150 yards from the tee. Once past these the fairway opens into a large open space with a clear view of the green. A nasty deep bunker to front left of the green must be avoided as it can be very hard to escape from. My score: 5; Good drive but I found that bunker with my 9 iron approach.
Hole 15 119 Yds Par 3
A short par 3 with a big green to aim at, just what the doctor ordered. There are bunkers to the left and right of the green but a wide gap between to go for. A classic nearest the pin hole anything less than par is a missed opportunity here. My score: 3; Missed another ten footer for birdie.
Hole 16 358 Yds Par 4
A demanding hole that requires accuracy from tee to green. Trees flank the fairway on either side for 120 yards and the fairway is narrow all the way to the green. On both sides of the fairway is undulating rough that can often trap a wayward drive in an awkward lie. The green is long and narrow and has bunkers left and right. My score: 5; A wild tee shot cleared the rough on the right hand side and put me on another fairway leaving a tough approach which I didnt make.
Hole 17 159 Yds Par 3
The last of the par 3s the seventeenth is also the last chance to make some headway with your score. A good sized green is protected to the front by two large bunkers meaning that you really need to pitch on the green if you want your second shot to be a putt. This hole is also quite exposed so crosswinds may again play a factor in your shot selection, anything within 15 feet is an excellent shot. My score: 4; Three putted from the back edge of the green.
Hole 18 382 Yds Par 4
A replica of the 9th hole, this time with the lake intruding from the left this hole can play havoc with your score and ruin an otherwise good round. The lake is perfectly reachable from the tee for most players so you will need to aim right. Too far right however and you will find yourself in trees or long grass. Theres still plenty of fairway to aim at but those two hazards will look awfully big from the tee. Even with a good drive you will be left with a challenging approach as the trees and lake again encroach on your field of vision. The big green is protected by several bunkers and is visible from the clubhouse patio so if youre lucky there will be a bunch of people watching you come in and not at all hoping you come a cropper. My score: 5; No alarms (one of the party hit the lake twice!) but three putted on the large green.
Final score: 87 (5787 Yards, Par 71)
So there you go, probably the archetypal round of golf for the mid handicapper golfer (I play off a nominal 18); a better score than Id hoped for given how little I play these days but with enough duffed shots to know there is plenty of room for improvement.
Ive played this course many times over the years and would happily play it again. The fees seem to have gone up steeply but then Im not playing as much as I used to so maybe thats normal, however of the four courses Ive played this year it is the most expensive. Its not the most exciting course around but if you live nearby or are invited to play there you will find it enjoyable.
Chelsfield Lakes is a 18 hole, par 71 parkland and wooded course measuring 6112 yards.