The London Golf Club International Course Review
Set in idyllic Kent countryside, just 20 miles from the capital that shares the same name, The London Golf Club boasts two championships courses that have built a solid reputation within the county.
None other than Jack Nicklaus himself is responsible for the 36-hole layout that consists of The Heritage and The International - which is the course featured here.
The club officially opened in 1994 and has since played host to a whole number of professional events including The PGA Senior Championship and Regional Open Qualifying.
These parkland style courses offer a blend of man made water features alongside use of the natural surrounds and undulations with some spectacular views out across the property.
I had been waiting long to play at The London Golf Club, so I really couldn't wait to get going when I arrived. I had heard about the great practice facilities and wasn't let down - a grass bayed driving range is always a welcome addition, likewise the large chipping green and practice bunkers and both courses also have their own separate putting greens which are well worth ten minutes of your time.
Whilst not enormous in size, the pro shop is well stocked and excellently staffed with a lovely range of crested accessories and apparel. The changing rooms and inside facilities are extremely adequate and the relaxed spike bar is a great place to grab a drink or bite before heading out.
Front 9 Overview
The front 9 gets going with a fine opening hole. A fairly gentle par 5 that plays to the brow of the fairway before it falls away from you - the second shot towards the green is framed amazingly well with the large lake running up the right and front of the green which sucks you into wanting to have a crack in two. Naturally the safe play is to go down the left hand side and follow the fairway - but a good chance to get your round off to a hot start.
The 3rd is a testing par 4 around the 400 yard mark, from the tee the look and feel makes you want to cut some of the corner on the right side because of the angle from the tee, but the pot bunker on the left side of the fairway is a great line, just make sure you leave yourself short of the trap.
The approach shot difficulty will depend on fairway position and the fairly narrow green is protected by a large deep bunker at the front with a pretty big bank to get over should you find the sand.
The 6th hole is another excellent par 5 that plays away slightly from the tee. It's a great design as there isn't much trouble from the tee and a good hit shot will run a bit further down than you might expect.
The long banana shaped bunker that runs down the left side of the fairway shouldn't come into play, but the same shaped trap runs around the green from the front and right side. There is a sharp dip before the green meaning a second shot with the right shape and distance stands a great chance at getting on in two, but the green is really long and plays up from front to back meaning a lengthy putt could be waiting.
The second of the two par 3s on the front 9 awaits at the 8th hole - the standout for me personally on the front.
Playing anything from 159 (Red) to 201 (Blue) this stunning par 3 from a fairly elevated tee box will test your nerve as the green sits the other side of a large lake. There is a bailout area short and left of the green, but the pin position, wind direction and player bravery will determine the outcome of this classic hole.
Back 9 Overview
After a fairly gentle start to the back 9, it really comes to life on the 12th.
It's a hole that feels very similar to the 8th - but the thing with a par 3 that looks incredible from the tee, has scenic views of the course, playing down over a large water hazard, is that you don't mind having more than one.
This time the green is long and fairly narrow so club selection is crucial.
You then play back around the same lake on the 13th as a par 5. One of the largest bunkers you'll see is sitting off to the left of the fairway, but carry that and because the fairway shapes around like a back to front 'r' the shorter shot is to play directly to the green, but over the water or the longer shot playing down the fairway, not without danger, may leave you an easier wedge in. This is a really well designed, classic risk and reward par 5.
A challenging long par 3 at 17 playing slightly up and more often than not, into the wind. The two bunkers need to be carried to find the putting surface. A hole that can play in excess of 200 yards is also protected by a large undulating green meaning a two putt isn't a given.
A really nice way to finish with a downhill par 5 and a generous fairway - albeit with bunkers either side. Longer hitters will be looking at the green which sits off to the right slightly and is blind from the fairway. There are some bunkers to navigate around but getting on in two is within reach should you wish to go out in a blaze of glory.
The International is a great golf course in perfect condition - and judging by the number of drains I saw dotted around suggests it's also a great course to play all year round.
There is a great selection of tee boxes meaning options for everyone regardless of ability. The fairways are fairly forgiving, and whilst there is some thick rough in places, I'm not sure you will lose loads of balls if you are wayward from the tee.
The greens are really big with some devilish run-off areas. Hitting greens here might not be a problem, but two putting everything will require some skill, patience and maybe even some luck and with a lot of venues of this quality, large greens normally come with some undulations.
The bunkers are well kept - I like the light fluffy sand in the greenside bunkers - but this makes any fairway bunker shot slightly more challenging.
The water in play is clear to see. It will take some well struck iron shots to avoid it but it adds so much to the golf course aesthetically that you don't mind the odd water ball.
I honestly think golfers of any ability will enjoy the test. Don't be a hero and jump on the back tees if you aren't able to hit the ball far and straight off the tee - and you'll enjoy it even more - in fact, keep the ball in play and you may well even be able to put a good score together.
The International is a great championship golf course that has played host to some of the best players in the world - but it's set up in a way that can be enjoyed and scored on by anyone.
Accepting the fact that you may have the odd three putt due to the scale of the greens is something that would be recommended, but you enjoy trying to master them and at the end of your round you can look back on a great experience that will tick many boxes, generally regardless of your score.
Overall Rating - 9
Course (Conditions) - 9
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 8
Course (Green Condition) - 9
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8
Club Facilities & Clubhouse - 8
Practice Facilities - 10
Friendliness/Hospitality - 9
Pace of Play - 8
Value For Money - 8
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|London Golf Club
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