We make no secret of our fondness for Marriott resorts here at Golfmagic. Especially right after the brown paper bag stuffed with cash lands on our desk.
So when we were asked to go and play Tudor Park Golf Club in a pre-Open Championship come-and-see-what-Kent-has-to-offer scenario, it wasn’t a difficult question.
And the picturesque course proved to be a worthwhile journey. We arrived nice and early to have a spot of lunch in the Zest Bar – a small restaurant above the Pro Shop offering nice views across the first and 18th – before taking advantage of the excellent practice facilities on offer, including a driving range, decent-sized putting green and chipping area complete with bunkers.
Suitably warm, we tossed our balls in the air and took our places on the first tee.
The Maidstone parkland course might not be the longest in the world at 6,085 yards, yet it more than makes up for it with exquisite putting surfaces, narrow tree-lined fairways, and some driveable par-4s.
The opening hole may be 351-yards, but take the ‘AP Line’ – more commonly known as the Tiger Line – and you’ll be on the dancefloor in no time. Unless you duff your chip and end up in the rough. The ‘AP Touch’.
Three holes later we reached the stunning par-3 fourth. We stood on the tee overlooking the beautiful surroundings of the Garden of England before making a club selection to the 170-yard downhill green.
Consecutive pars at the relatively straightforward second and third holes meant Alex had the honour, but his effort can only be described as a mother-in-law shot – let’s just say it looked good when it was leaving…
If you manage to get to the sixth, you’ll be treated to a real risk-reward hole. Two huge, steep bunkers protect the dogleg – but take them on at your peril. Clear them, and you’re looking at a simple up-and-down for birdie. Find the trap and you may as well get out your bucket and spade. In fact, I think Alex is still in there.
The seventh is listed as the easiest hole on the course, but don’t let that fool you. It may only be 118 yards long, but you’ll need David Toms-like accuracy to avoid the steep drop off on three sides of the green.
The delightful par-5 eighth requires you to use all the natural contours of the right side of the fairway, while the ninth provides a good birdie opportunity to make the turn with a decent score.
Our favourite hole was the drivable par-4 13th. Only 290 yards in length, it’s dead straight and all downhill. Why was it our favourite? Well I found the green in one before two-putting while AP hit the shot of the day – pin high, yet short-sighted and behind a tree, he chipped it up to gimme range.
Again, the natural contours of the Donald Steel-design track come into play on the closing holes. But it was all over by the time we’d reached the superb 18th. With Alex already taking a 4&2 victory in our intense matchplay battle-to-the-death, I could relax a lot more and close with another nice birdie on a difficult finishing hole which can afford no mistakes.
So we shook hands and headed for dinner in the Conical Grill restaurant, with service and food as delightful as the views across the golf course. And as you’d expect from a Marriott resort, the hotel is clean, comfortable and always a pleasure to stay in.
Peace and tranquility. For all you know, you could be miles from civilisation.
It might not be St George’s, but if you’re heading to Sandwich then you could not pick a better place to set up camp than Tudor Park. Wake up, spot of golf on a nice track before a 45-minute drive to the Open.