AND they say the drive down Magnolia Lane is special.
From the main gates and the sweeping one-mile drive, to the luxurious clubhouse and dedicated bag drop, London Golf Club oozed a sense of class before I’d even slipped on my FootJoys.
The Jack Nicklaus-signature Heritage course - venue for Golf Live and two-time European Open track - was looking spectacular, but I was here to play the International - a course with an equally impressive CV as its sibling, having hosted the European Tour Q-School and Open Championship regional qualifying, and come October 15, the 50th anniversary of the World Matchplay Championship.
While The Heritage may possess risky carries, cunning greens, several lakes and vast array of bunkers in characteristic Golden Bear fashion, the 7,005-yard par-72 International is equally challenging with a stunning array of fairways, immaculate greens and well-maintained bunkers.
Built to USGA specification and designed by course architect Ron Kirby under the Nicklaus banner, the International, in stark contract to the Heritage’s parkland layout, provides more of an inland links feel.
A valley separates the outward nine from the inward half, providing the International with a distinctly different feel as well as spectacular views out across the capital.
The gently rolling Kent countryside also provides sufficient elevation changes to make things interesting and from the back tees it’s a really tough challenge, especially when the wind picks up. Some of the fairways are rather generous, but the same cannot be said when it comes to the approach shots.
You may also want to bring your ball scoop as four different lakes come into play on five holes. While we’re on the subject, I found two of them. There’s also a vast amount of bunkering, some large, some flat and some pot.