Olympic legend Steve Backley chats to Golfmagic about London Golf Club

The first in a new series of features about where you should play during the Games

Alex Perry and Andy Roberts
Fri, 22 Jun 2012
Olympic legend Steve Backley chats to Golfmagic about London Golf Club

Between now and the start of London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, Golfmagic will be running a series of features on the best golf courses in and around the M25 for visitors to try out while in the capital.

And where else could we possibly start than London Golf Club? Not just for its name, but because two-time Olympic silver medalist Steve Backley is club president.

It doesn’t take long to work out just how much passion the 43-year-old has for London Golf Club and its International course.

“Located on the doorstep of the Olympics, The International is an all-round great experience from the moment you drive through the gates,” says the man who once took on Martin Kaymer in a unique nearest the pin challenge.

The course caters for all ranges and abilities, measuring less than 5,500 yards from the reds and more than 6,500 yards from the whites. There is real flexibility in terms of the standard required.

“I can tell you, when the wind picks up, this course plays as one serious test from the backs,” continues Backley. “The International has a links-like feel with fast undulating fairways allowing you to chase the ball into position.

“And beware of the beautifully manicured greens. They might not be US Open fast but they’re not to be confused with slow.

“It’s a quality layout, always immaculately prepared, and is punctuated with exciting risk and reward tee shots over water that really get the heart pumping.”

And what about Backley’s favourite holes?

“The par-3 eighth is a great hole across water, playing between a 4-iron and hybrid from the white tees,” he says. “But I love the little loop on the back nine on holes 11, 12 and 13.

“You have a reasonably long par-5 at 11 followed by the par-3 12th played into a postage stamp green across water.

“You then turn in the opposite direction for the stunning par-5 13th with its split fairway. Play safe down the right or take the bold route, if you’re long enough, down the left to cut the hole down for size. The approach is then played back across water.

“If you’re making me pick just one, I’d go for the 12th. It’s ruined many a strokeplay round. The tee is raised and it plays anywhere between a wedge and a 3-wood from the three different tee boxes.

“Frustratingly, I’m playing less golf than I have since I took the game up - mainly because of the Olympics.

“I’ve been in four different countries recently and now I’m off to Marbella and Gibraltar. Golf has taken a back seat but I’m still playing off six and very much enjoying the game when I get the chance.”

Feature continues with Backley’s views ahead of the Games and golf becoming an Olympic sport in Brazil in four years. Click here to continue reading.