Connect with us

Courses

The Big Review – The Grove Golf Resort

Published

on

Only 18 miles from the centre of London you can find an absolute gem of a golfing destination. Sitting in 300 acres of beautiful English countryside, The Grove not only boasts one of the top rated hotels in the UK and a world rated spa but far more importantly it boasts one of the best courses in South-East England.

What makes The Grove so special is that it manages to combine the best of British traditions with completely modern attitudes; while there has been a house at the site since 1400 and the core of the present structure dates from 1754 when was the home of the Earl of Clarendon, there’s no fustiness here. In fact, there’s not even an on-course dress code. That’s like being able to watch the Ashes from the Pavilion at Lord’s without having the wear a jacket and tie or fitting in at Ascot’s Royal Enclosure while wearing shorts and a T-shirt – you get to enjoy the occasion without focusing on the distractions. It goes without saying that the sort of golfers you find here are far more likely to be decked out in J Lindberg and Galvin Green than tracksuits but it’s incredibly refreshing and highlights the lack of pretensions.

The gorgeous changing rooms and bar were originally the stables (which tells you that the Earl did things in style) and since converted very stylishly. The pro shop is small but perfectly formed and most importantly, the staff are incredibly helpful. No snobbery here.

Now for any golf course, no matter how beautiful the surroundings or pleasant the staff, it has to be about the experience on the course. The Grove is a fantastic example of a modern stadium parkland course – a long demanding track that combines wide rolling fairways with sharp changes in elevation. A traditional links or heathland track would have looked out of place in this rolling countryside and as the course winds through mature woodland players will enjoy some swooping changes of elevation. The course takes pride of place alongside Kingsbarn and Loch Lomond as Kyle Philips’ best known creations and shares some trademark touches: a course that seems to have emerged from the landscape rather than having been mechanically hewn from it and hazards placed to allow it to be a challenge to the better golfer while still being enjoyably playable for us lesser mortals. Another noticeable feature is the large fast undulating greens. From the first green you will see that they normally consist of 3 or more completely separate levels. Leaving your ball on the wrong level can result in either a putt that requires a good thump to get it close or one that you barely need to breathe on. As you make your way around the estate the course is slowly revealed and while there are birdies to be had, the final 4 holes make for a grandstand finish for any standard of golfer.

It’s impossible to talk about this course without mentioning the AMEX World Golf Championship that was hosted here in 2006. Then, Tiger Woods was at his peerless best on his way to a 12th WGC title. Recording a score of -23, 8 shots ahead of Ian Poulter and Adam Scott, Woods played the 18th hole in 7 under over the 4 days of the tournament. Uphill and into a prevailing breeze, Woods eagled the hole the first 3 days and only missed out on the Sunday when his drive just missed the fairway and his pitch shot stopped next to the cup. Three plaques, all within 20 feet of each other, record where his drives came to rest on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday. As you walk past them, it’s almost impossible not to drop a ball and see if you can recreate those eagles. At around 250 yards and 30 feet below the flag, you may have swing that little bit harder to get it ball anywhere close.

The course was in great nick when we were there. Despite a scorching summer the fairways were perfect and the greens as smooth as if they were due a Tour event. The management of the course is the responsibility of Troon Golf who say they focus on agronomy and course health as much as managing the course as a business. This doesn’t always seem to be true for some big courses but it is here so you are practically guaranteed a great golfing experience whenever you play.

A must play.

Green fees from £139 – For more information contact, http://www.thegrove.co.uk/golf.aspx

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. sam krume

    Dec 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I agree with the comments above regarding the Grove but unfortunately being a resort course it does suffer from some players not knowing about etiquette when playing golf. I repaired on average 4-5 pitch marks per green with the worst offending green i actually repaired 11, yes 11 pitch marks. There also seems to be a lack of understanding that if you take a divot the you should replace it…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Courses

Kingston Heath: The Hype is Real

Published

on

We touched ground late in the afternoon at Melbourne Airport and checked in very, very late at hotel Grand Hyatt. Don’t ask about our driving and navigating skills. It shouldn’t have taken us as long as we did. Even with GPS we failed miserably, but our dear friend had been so kind to arrange a room with a magnificent view on the 32nd floor for us.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The skyline in Melbourne was amazing, and what a vibrant, multicultural city Melbourne turned out to be when we later visited the streets to catch a late dinner. The next morning, we headed out to one of the finest golf courses that you can find Down Under: Kingston Heath. We had heard so many great things about this course, and to be honest we were a bit worried it almost was too hyped up. Luckily, there were no disappointments.

Early morning at Kingston Heath C) Jacob Sjöman.

Here’s the thing about Kingston Heath. You’re driving in the middle of a suburb in Melbourne and then suddenly you see the sign, “Kingston Heath.” Very shortly after the turn, you’re at the club. This is very different than the other golf courses we’ve visited on this trip Down Under, where we’ve had to drive for several miles to get from the front gates to the club house.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Nevertheless, this course and its wonderful turf danced in front of us from the very first minute of our arrival. With a perfect sunrise and a very picture friendly magic morning mist, we walked out on the course and captured a few photos. Well, hundreds to be honest. The shapes and details are so pure and well defined.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Kingston Heath was designed by Dan Soutar back in 1925 with help and guidance from the legendary golf architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who added to its excellent bunkering system. Dr. MacKenzie’s only design suggestion was to change Soutar’s 15th hole from a 222-yard par-4 (with a blind tee shot) to a par-3. Today, this hole is considered to be one the best par-3 holes Down Under, and I can understand why.

I am normally not a big fan of flat courses, but I will make a rare exception for Kingston Heath. It’s a course that’s both fun and puts your strategic skills to a serious test. Our experience is that you need to plan your shots carefully, and never forget to stay out of its deep bunkers. They’re not easy.

The bunker shapes are brilliant. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Kingston Heath is not super long in distance, but it will still give you a tough test. You definitely need to be straight to earn a good score. If you are in Melbourne, this is the golf course I would recommend above all others.

Next up: Metropolitan. Stay tuned!

Your Reaction?
  • 93
  • LEGIT6
  • WOW5
  • LOL2
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP3
  • OB1
  • SHANK5

Continue Reading

Courses

Barnbougle Lost Farm: 20 Holes of Pure Joy

Published

on

Another early day in Tasmania, and we were exploring the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw-design, Barnbougle Lost Farm. The course was completed in 2010, four years after the neighbor Barnbougle Dunes, resulting in much excitement in the world of golf upon opening.

Johan and I teed off at 10 a.m. to enjoy the course at our own pace in its full glory under clear blue skies. Barnbougle Lost Farm starts out quite easy, but it quickly turns into a true test of links golf. You will certainly need to bring some tactical and smart planning in order to get close to many of the pin positions.

The third hole is a prime example. With its sloping two-tiered green, it provides a fun challenge and makes you earn birdie — even if your tee and approach shots put you in a good position. This is one of the things I love about this course; it adds a welcome dimension to the game and something you probably don’t experience on most golf courses.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The 4th is an iconic signature hole called “Sals Point,” named after course owner Richard Sattler’s wife (she was hoping to build a summer home on the property before it was turned into a golf course). A strikingly beautiful par-3, this hole is short in distance but guarded with luring bunkers. When the prevailing northwesterly wind comes howling in from the ocean, the hole will leave you exposed and pulling out one of your long irons for the tee shot. We left No. 4 with two bogeys with a strong desire for revenge.

Later in the round, we notice our scorecard had a hole numbered “13A” just after the 13th. We then noticed there was also an “18A.” That’s because Barnbougle Lost Farm offers golfers 20 holes. The designers believed that 13A was “too good to leave out” of the main routing, and 18A acts as a final betting hole to help decide a winner if you’re left all square. And yes, we played both 13A and 18A.

I need to say I liked Lost Farm for many reasons; it feels fresh and has some quirky holes including the 5th and the breathtaking 4th. The fact that it balks tradition with 20 holes is something I love. It also feels like an (almost) flawless course, and you will find new things to enjoy every time you play it.

The big question after trying both courses at Barnbougle is which course I liked best. I would go for Barnbougle Dunes in front of Barnbougle Lost Farm, mostly because I felt it was more fun and offered a bigger variation on how to play the holes. Both courses are great, however, offering really fun golf. And as I wrote in the first part of this Barnbougle-story, this is a top destination to visit and something you definitely need to experience with your golf friends if you can. It’s a golfing heaven.

Next course up: Kingston Heath in Melbourne.

Your Reaction?
  • 27
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

Courses

Barnbougle Dunes: World Class Golf

Published

on

We arrived to Launceston Airport in Tasmania just before sunset. Located on the Northeast Coast of Australia’s island state, Tasmania, Barnbougle is almost as far from Sweden as it gets… yet it immediately felt like home when we arrived.

Launceston Airport, Tasmania. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The drive from the airport was just over an hour, taking us through deep forests and rolling hills before we arrived to Barnbougle Golf Resort, which consists of two courses — The Dunes and Lost Farm — a lodge, two restaurants, a sports bar and a spa. Unfortunately, it was pitch black outside and we couldn’t see much of the two courses on our arrival. I would like to add that both Johan and I were extremely excited about visiting this golf mecca. We later enjoyed a tasty dinner at the Barnbougle Lost Farm Restaurant before we called it a day.

The locals at Barnbougle Dunes. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The next day, we woke up early and got out to The Dunes Course as very first guests out. Well, to be quite honest, we weren’t actually the first out. There were a few locals — Wallabies, lots of them — already out on the course. The natural landscape at Barnbougle is fantastic and my cameras almost overheated with the photo opportunities. After two intense hours of recording videos and producing photos both from ground, we headed back to Lost Farm for a wonderful breakfast (and view). After our breakfast, it was time to try our luck.

“Tom’s Little Devil.” Hole No.7 at Barnbougle Dunes. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Before describing our experience playing the courses, I would like to mention about Richard Sattler, a potato farmer and owner of Barnbougle. In the early 2000’s, Richard was introduced to U.S. golfing visionary Mike Keiser, who had heard about his amazing stretch of farmland in Tasmania and came down to visit. Mike convinced Richard that Barnbougle (which at that stage was a potato farm and still grows potatoes and raises cattle today) might be perfect for creating a top quality golf course.

After an introduction to well renowned golf architect Tom Doak and the formation of a partnership with former Australian golf pro and golf architect Mike Clayton, the development of the Barnbougle Dunes Course commenced.

The walk between the 4th and 5th holes. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Featuring large bunkers dotted between fun rolling fairways shaped from the coastal dunes, Barnbougle Dunes offers the golfer some tough challenges, in particular on the first nine. This is indeed a course that will entertain all kinds of golfers.

After our round, we looked back at some fantastic highlights such as playing the iconic 7th hole, a short par-3 called ”Tom’s Little Devil,” as well as the beautiful par-4 15th. We were just two big walking smiles sitting there in the restaurant to be honest. Lets also not forget one of the biggest (and deepest) bunkers I’ve seen at the 4th hole. The name of the bunker is “Jaws.” Good times!

As a small surprise for Johan, I had arranged a meeting after our round with Richard Sattler. Richard, ever the farmer, entered the car parking just in front of the clubhouse in a white pick-up van with a big smile un his face. We talked to Richard for almost 30 minutes. He is an extremely humble man and left such a warm impression on us. Richard explained the Barnbougle story: how it all began and the property today.

To me, this is a high-end golf destination offering something very unique with two world-class courses in Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm, both ranked in the top-100 greatest golf courses by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine (U.S.). With the courses located just next to each other, it’s probably one of the best golf resorts you can find down under and a golf resort that I would like bring my hardcore golfing friends to visit. Everything here is exceptional with the resort providing spacious rooms, comfy beds, good food and spectacular views.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Barnbougle Dunes is a real treat to play for any golfer and will leave you with a sweet golfing memory. Compared to the golf courses available on the more remote King Island, Barnbougle is accessible (given Tasmania is connected by better flight connections) and the hospitality and service at is much more refined.

The golf resort is one of the absolute best I’ve been to. I can also highly recommend playing Barnbougle Dunes; I had great fun and you can play it in many ways. Tomorrow, we will be playing and experiencing the other course at Barnbougle: Barnbougle Lost Farm, a Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw course with 20 (!) holes.

Your Reaction?
  • 51
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW3
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending