For all the media training players get these days, it’s no wonder that some of today’s tour players can come across as both drilled and bland when interviewed.
However, for those that grew up in the seventies and eighties with the likes of Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Fuzzy Zoeller and Payne Stewart.
All these guys came with a large dose of personality, the man that stand above all these great players is the one and only Seve Ballesteros.
The man not only had a cavalier approach to the game but also received one the rarest accolades in sport, by being known by one name only….Seve!
Not only was he was full of charm and good humour in front of the cameras but his approach to the game was both exciting and creative.
So when the opportunity to play at the ONLY golf course in the UK designed by the late, great man, we jumped at the chance!
The location of The Shire London could not be more convenient for nomadic golfers.
You leave junction 23 on the M25 and head down the A1081 for no more than a mile or two, you’ll be met at the entrance by a modern statue of the man.
The Clubhouse is modern and comfortable with a mix of tables and sofas that offer you a great chance to relax and enjoy a breakfast or lunch before heading out on the course.
Inside there is also a Gym (for members only) and a well-stocked shop with plenty of Seve branded goods to purchase.
We were met by a very smiley Tom, who was quick to show us where everything was and was keen to take the time to chat with us.
This is something many lesser clubs could learn from, as it not only leaves a lasting impression but it also makes the visiting golfer enjoy their day more.
In early 2000, the Menai-Davis family invited Seve to visit the UK to take a look at a large piece of land north of London, on which they wanted to create a new unique style golf course.
In 2001, just 72 hours after Seve’s first visit, a deal was agreed. Soon afterwards, the Spanish legend and his team set about creating what would become known as The Shire London.
Over the next five years, the ground was developed into the 18-hole Ballesteros ‘Masters Course’ and the 9-hole Ballesteros ‘Academy Course’.
Seve visited the site regularly in person throughout the build, making himself available constantly to answer questions regarding the design and build process, until the project’s completion in 2006.
During this period, the Menai-Davis family worked on the Clubhouse and infrastructure with the key ambition to make members, their guests and other visitors feel comfortable, relaxed, welcomed without any of the stuffy formality which characterised other golf clubs in the area.
The Course also boasts a small six bay driving range meaning everything is catered for!
On 2nd July 2007, The Shire London opened for green fees, having held a member’s weekend a month earlier.
Later, events would mean that tragically, The Shire London will forever remain Severiano Ballesteros’ one and only golf course design in the UK.
So the first thing you notice on the card as you make your way to the first tee is that this is like no other course you’ve been too.
Yes, it was Seve’s insistence that there should be an even mix of par threes, fours and fives, and that no two consecutive holes should play to the same par…. and it works!
The first hole starts with a pretty Par 3 to ease you into your round but note, you are playing across water.
Just the first of 14th holes on the course that include water in their layout. You’ve been warned.
The holes then rotate with a Par 4, Par 5 returning to a Par 3 again, and so on.
Surprisingly, this doesn’t break your flow, but actually, compliments ts your play.
Of course, the tee boxes are perfect. Of course, the greens are as good as you play anywhere in the area.
And yes, the rough is long, forcing you to play the kind of shot Seve would want you to.
The standout holes:
Hole 4 – A pretty 140 yards Par 3 (across water) a big flat green to give you a chance
Hole 7 – Another inspiring 118 yard Par 3 that finishes on an island green (across water – again!)
Hole 9 – An uphill 400+ yard Par 4 flanked by mature trees and a well-protected green
Hole 11 – A 500+ yard straight Par 5, but leave enough room to clear the centred oak in the approach to the green
Hole 13 – A short tee shot to the turn and long 3 wood, gives you a birdie chance but go long off the tee and you’ll be in trouble.
Hole 15 – An ascending fairway with a right dog-leg that invites you to hit an expansive flat green. Another birdie opportunity.
Hole 18 – A good drive on this 365 yard Par 4 will tempt you to go for the green….but beware of the ‘S’ shaped water feature, as you’ll need to be pinpoint accurate if you want to avoid a bogey.
This hole provides a superb vista for those watching you finish in the clubhouse.
Seve clearly enjoyed designing golf course after his retirement from the game and although I am sure he would have preferred to have continued playing, this course allows his name to live on for generations.
We are very lucky to have this memory of him!
Prices below are valid from May 1st 2017 to October 31st 2017.
Call 020 8441 7649 or 0208 440 4009.
BALLESTEROS MASTERS COURSE
Monday-Friday: £60 (Junior U-18 £25)
Weekends: £75 (Junior U-18 £40)
FOUR-BALL DEALS in 2017
– Mon-Thu: £195 per fourball, before 12 noon, food included
– Friday: £205 per fourball, before 12 noon, food included
– Sat-Sun: £230 per fourball, afternoon only, no food included
– Bookable up to 7 days in advance.
– NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE – TELEPHONE BOOKINGS ONLY
Please Click Here for our current Special Offers.
With much to enjoy as you make your way around the course, you will have to be having a very bad day if you don’t enjoy this course.
And you can’t help thinking that the great man is enjoying watching you test your skills on ‘his’ stage.
Given the course is still only a decade old, I can see the trees maturing well as they provided a great backdrop for the course.
One tiny criticism, as with most members clubs, there is limited signage between holes, something paramount for the visiting golfer. However, this is not something that will cause you too many problems, as the scorecard has a useful map on the back.
Overall, we like this course, you will be hard pushed to find a friendlier, more challenging, and of course more iconic golf course in the whole of the South East.
If you get a chance to visit this course, either on a corporate day or for social golf, do….this is a course that all TSGers will enjoy!
For more information, please visit the TSG course page – The Shire – London