The Shire London Feature Review

By: Matt Holbrook | Tue 04 Aug 2020 | Comments


Review by Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook


Set a mile or so from the M25 and A1 junction in Barnet, The Shire London is most renowned for being the only UK course designed solely by the late golf legend Severiano Ballesteros.

The layout also includes the quirk of having a combination of six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s with no two consecutive holes on either the outward or inward 9 the same par. Water features heavily - coming into play in one way or another - on 11 of the 18 holes on the main course, including the unique 'S' shaped lake that sits around the 18th green. 

The Shire features prominently on many 'Golfshake Top' lists as it is ever popular with visitors and societies, with many independent reviews ranking the venue as Highly Recommended.

Relatively new in terms of age - opening in 2007, the course is always maturing and its most recent move in acquiring a new greenkeeping team has taken the conditioning to another level and seen it play host to a number of professional tournaments, including a recent The Rose Ladies Series event. The hospitality, friendly welcome, excellently designed and presented golf course makes The Shire a must visit for golfers of all abilities.

Pre-Round Thoughts

You know what to expect when you are playing a golf course that has such an exceptional reputation. You also receive a welcome from all staff that is fitting for that standing. The driving range is available, as are two different putting greens and chipping green with a bunker in order to get ready for play, or if a bite to eat is a preferred option then a superb bar menu is available before heading out.

Front 9 Overview

Is there a tougher start than a par 3 over water? Whilst the length can play anything from 117 to 175 yards, the opening hole sets the tone for the pars 3. Tough green to hold with run off areas - no bunkers here - but if the water is avoided making a 3 still isn't a certainty.

The 2nd is another great hole, a distinctly average 350 yards in length, but anything other than average for challenge.

With a water feature splitting the fairway in two, you have a decision whether to use iron from the tee to around 200 yards, or longer hitters may fancy the option of the 250 yard carry over the water. Either way the second shot plays uphill onto a green that is well protected by bunkers front left and right but also slopes from back to front.

The 6th is another challenging par 4 with a ditch running through the landing zone in the fairway. Measuring over 400 yards with thick tress running all the way down the left, a draw from the tee would be ideal but precision is vital, an iron from the tee being short of the ditch will leave a longer second shot to a tricky green which is again protected by four deep bunkers at the front.

The 7th - similar to the previous two par 3s - plays slightly down to a green surrounded by water that looks inviting from the tee but is anything but in reality.

Back 9 Overview

The 11th hole is a great design. Playing downhill, this par 5 will be over 500 yards but one that longer hitters should fancy. Taking on the bunker on the left of the fairway is the perfect line, but leaving yourself short of the ditch is a must. The approach shot must be taken over the large oak tree that sits in the middle of the fairway or avoided either side if birdie or better is to be achieved. Regardless of score you will have fun trying to work your way down this hole.

After the long par 3 12th, the next is another par 5 that plays down and to the right, but much shorter in distance. At a maximum of 475 yards don't be fooled into thinking this is an easy 4. The dip in the fairway between 250 and 275 yards will be at landing point for most, this is protected by two large fairway bunkers either side as the fairway narrows. Find one of the traps and a layup will be the only option, hit the fairway and you are able to have a go but the green is again protected by bunkers left, short and right.

The 17th is probably the toughest of the par 3s as it’s the only one that really has a combination of both length and water to negotiate and, together with the 18th, is a great finish.

The 18th, the signature hole, is golf at its best. A tough tee shot to a narrowing fairway which is absolutely vital to find. The second shot will be over the water, twice, as the iconic 'S' shaped lake runs from the end of the fairway and around the back of the green. My best advice would be to play what you see, make sure you take enough club and admire it for the fantastic finishing hole it is after you have played while enjoying a cold drink looking back over.

Highlights

You could easily be lured into thinking that a course with six par 5s is easily scorable. However, with six par 3s your iron play will need to be right on the money too. The way the holes have been designed means, regardless of length, it’s not a case of bash driver and have a go in two. You can (and will need to) plot your way around the par 5s. The par 4s are a mixture of length, and most of the par 3s are heavily protected by water in some degree. The combination of the three works incredibly well as a layout.

Post-Round Thoughts

The condition of the course is superb. Pure is a term often overused but it perfect describes The Shire. We were lucky enough to play the course the morning of a professional event so the greens were running at an incredible pace and tricky to read. The addition of the new greenkeeping team is clearly a decision that is paying off as the entire course is extremely well kept. The greens are a good size but very subtle breaks making them tough to conquer.

Whilst the course feels tight, the different tee boxes available means players of all abilities will still be able to really enjoy themselves, while the design of the course means that bad shots will get punished so do put a bit of thought into your round.

The food and drink on offer is great and there could be no better place than to sit outside overlooking the 18th reminiscing on the round you have just played whilst watching others finishing up theirs.

Verdict

Overall, The Shire is a great day out. Beginning from the moment you pull in to be greeted by a statue of Seve himself, to the clubhouse and facilities, to the 1st and 18th holes, this truly is a golfing experience for all to consume.

Overall Rating - 9

Course (Conditions) - 9

Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10

Course (Green Condition) - 10

Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 9

Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 9

Practice Facilities - 8

Friendliness/Hospitality - 10

Pace of Play - 8

Value for Money - 9


Related Content: The Shire London review England course

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