280 miles; 4 counties; 4 courses; 2 days. Can AP and David West reach 160 points? Read on...

Alex Perry and David West
Mon, 17 Oct 2011

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Three of the four Leaderboard courses have now been conquered and Alex and David arrive at Chart Hills in Kent, the fourth and final county of the Challenge, needing 46 betterball points to achieve their target of 160 over the two days. Did they make it? Read on…

As someone who prefers to show up around 45 minutes before a tee time, the short drive from Dale Hill to Chart Hills was a blessing.

It’s one of those golf clubs that, as you’re meandering down the driveway to the grand clubhouse, you know will be a fine establishment.

And speaking of short drives, Dave’s 55th tee was that of a man who had played far too much golf in far too little time.

This was no time to be taking an 8!

That front nine was a great experience though. Chart Hills really is a well set out golf course.

While Alex had been preening himself in the locker room, the starter had told me that every hole borrows something from a hole somewhere in the world that Faldo has copied in his design.

Well I don’t know where Sirnick got that 300-yard bunker idea from for the par-5 fifth, but that was not my most finest moment.

Bunkers were certainly a feature of the front nine, as were the group in front of us.

Don’t remind me. The course was busy up ahead of us and we were following a fourball. That front nine lasted 2¾ hours. That’s when we realised the other challenge we would be facing.

Nine more holes to play and sunset just over an hour away, this was going to get interesting. Walking off was not an option, no matter how dark it got.

And then there was the points target. 21 points on the front nine brought us up to 135 after 63 holes, needing just 25 on the back nine. It was do-able.

Seven pars and two bogeys would do it. Time to build up the tension...

The tenth is a fairly straightforward par-4 and we both got good drives away but missed the green with our approaches.

Up and downs eluded us on the difficult green and we both got bogey. Two points, 23 more needed. The sun was low in our eyes at the par-3 11thhole and we both lost our balls in the flight. Reaching the green, AP was on but distant and I was through the back.

It would have been a good two-putt from where I was. My second agonisingly lipped-out and we only took two points from what should have been a guaranteed three-pointer. Seven to play, 19 points needed.

The 12th is a good par-5 with a stroke index of 17, but at this point that we were getting seriously held up. At the Halfway House a two-ball had slipped out between the fourball and us and we were regularly meeting them on the tee as they waited to play.

And all they wanted to talk about was how slow the round was!

AP picked up another two points here, a good effort on a deceptively undulating green. With six holes to go we were still 19 points short. We were starting to wonder if a miracle would be required – or if we’d have enough light to finish.

Not a great time to arrive at stroke index 1 – water down the left from the tee then crossing the hole in front of the green. Two points here would be a good result and it was relieving to get them.

And as I took the photo of Alex under the double rainbow (left), it felt like we were chasing rainbows. 160 points was beyond us. I told Alex the Challenge was now about setting a benchmark for future challenges and getting back into the clubhouse while we could still see our balls. I saw him smirk, but he kept his mouth shut. He knew it wasn’t time to joke.

Two holes and just three points later confirmed our frustrations. But it didn’t alter the fact we were playing a stunning golf course.

We vowed on the 16th tee that we would enjoy the last three holes with no pressure.

And what a great finishing stretch they are. A lengthy double-dogleg par-5, a stunning island green par-3 akin to its Sawgrass sibling and a par-4 over the hill set to the backdrop of the impressive clubhouse.

Those last three holes saw the sun go down on our challenge in more ways than one but we rallied to make nine more points. It would have been great to be able to see more of the island green, but next time we do this we’ll pick a time of year that has longer days!

Those nine points brought us up to 40 for the round. Now I’m no mathematician but I add that to the 41 from The Oxfordshire, the 37 at Sandford Springs and the 36 squeaked out of Dale Hill and we walked off in the Kent darkness with a grand total of 154.

It was funny, because as we headed up the M20 to conclude the 300-mile round-trip, there was still a slight disappointment that we’d finished just six short of our target. But as we said at the start, 160 points over four courses we’d never played is a tough challenge – one we’ll definitely be having another go at next year...

Want to know about the four Leaderboard courses? Click here for more...