Golf Course Review of The London Golf Club

The London Golf Club

The London Golf Course

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Quick Summary: A pair of high quality modern inland courses

Our 5 Star Rating: 4.2

The London Golf Club can boast two courses that have both hosted European Tour events.

The members-only Heritage layout staged the European Open in 2008 and 2009 whilst the 2014 Volvo World Matchplay Championship was contested on the International course.

I recently enjoyed a full day here with a morning outing on the “International” followed by an afternoon round on the Jack Nicklaus Signature “Heritage”. Both courses opened for play in 1993.

Each track is clearly cut from the same US-style piece of cloth and it is easy to see why the European Tour – who have a regional office on site – would find either venue suitable for top level professional golf.

Both can be stretched to in excess of 7000 yards from the multiple tee sets, each has large greens along with bold bunkering and several water hazards. As with most contemporary courses the aerial game dominates, particularly on the Heritage, and somebody who hits a long, high ball will be rewarded. There are also a number of forced carried over water.

The landscape is not unlike The Oxfordshire where the clubhouse is located at the top of a hill and rolling countryside stretches below you with manmade lakes and masses of sand visible with loops of nine returning back to the clubhouse. The golf is better here though.

The International is actually laid out over pure downland, plays a little firmer and is more exposed to the wind. It is, however, a touch more scoreable because it’s a bit shorter, more generous from the tee and the green complexes are not quite as punishing should you miss them.

Both courses are par 72 but the International – designed by Ron Kirby under the Jack Nicklaus label – has a more of a fun feel to it and I think this is largely because it has five short holes and five par threes, compared to four of each on the Heritage, and this just mixes it all up a bit more.

The Heritage carries the personal mark of the Golden Bear and is not dissimilar in style. However, in my opinion, and that of many others, it is the superior course with a little bit more character and challenge.

The drives ask a few more questions from the tee and the green complexes are simply more engaging – the greenside bunkers, in true Nicklaus fashion, are certainly more deadly and deeper.
The set of short holes on the Heritage is also a notch up and there is more strategy required throughout.

The most memorable holes on the International are the four that must cross water head-on. A very lake, which eats into the green, worryingly greets you when cresting the hill on the long opening hole. The key to the 13th- another par-five – is choosing which of the two routes to take to the green. Meanwhile, the eighth and 12th – both downhill short holes – are also fronted by water with little or no bail-out area.

There are a number of standout holes on the Heritage too and perhaps a bit more variety across the board.

As mentioned earlier the short holes are very good. The charming third has an unexpected maturity to it whilst there is no doubt about what is required at the seventh played over another lake. The 11th and 17th are arguably the best of the four par-threes though and are played towards well sculptured green sites.

The par fives are all well thought out too, offer up chances of birdie but have greens that are well defended.

The par-four second is also a wonderful hole; one of many holes that offer heroic drives. I also liked the fourth which is of a similar nature and where a good drive is rewarded even more with a better line into the green. The ninth and 14th are also very strong from the tee. Meanwhile, the 13th is a dicey short par-four where bigger hitters may choose to go for the green otherwise a lay-up and a pitch over a pond is required. And the 18th is a fine closing hole with more water to avoid down the left before you fire up to a green under the clubhouse.

The condition of both courses was very good. The greens had recently been hollow-tined on the Heritage which detracted from the experience a little but the surfaces on the International were excellent. The presentation across the board was superb.

There is plenty of width on both courses but should one stray there is long, penal rough where losing a ball is more than a possibility. It’s interesting to note that a 5-year development plan is underway on the Heritage course to restore it back to its original design concept after a narrowing of the fairways over the years. The cost of hosting European Tour events I guess.

Sadly, but as you would expect there are several long walks from green-to-tee and both courses are a tough walk. A buggy would be advised but these must (and do thanks to gps technology) stay on the cart paths.

The London Golf Club doesn’t offer the type of golf that I seek on a regular basis but putting personal preferences aside both courses, especially the Heritage, are a match for virtually all other inland golf courses built since 1990 and do exactly what they were designed to do… and do it very well.

Played here? Please leave us your own comments about the course

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