The words “London” and “golf” are not usually associated with each other as far as non-Londoners are concerned. The capital city of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is home to 8.5 million people over 1572 square kilometers. A global city bursting with tradition and history attracting 17.4 million tourists a year who join over three million daily commuters producing a GDP greater than most small countries.
Whichever way you look at it London is big, busy, impressive and full of surprises. It may however come as something of a surprise that London is also home to around 180 golf courses. This particular aspect to London life has slipped under the radar in recent years but there has long been a link between golf golfing heritage and the capital.
The oldest golf course in England, Royal Blackheath, is located in the borough of Greenwich and you don’t have to travel too far into the counties to play Wentworth or Sunningdale; London golf is home to globally significant courses of World renown.
For most London golfers though the heady heights of European Tour standard courses are a little bit out of reach, it’s just as well then that they live in an area of the country that’s bristling with just about every type of golf course imaginable. Within a thirty to forty minute drive of each other there are public pay-and-play courses alongside private members clubs, from majestic parkland courses to a golf course built on top of an underground reservoir. Here you can play the oldest 9 hole course in England in the morning and play the newest 18 hole course in the afternoon; London really is an unrecognised golfers paradise.
I was a latecomer to the game of golf. I started playing 5 years ago on a whim and was well and truly bitten by the bug. From the very beginning I have always been a golf course visitor, as I am based in South East London it was easy to play many different golf courses from the beginning, and so I did. I decided to start to record my experiences of these courses and soon realised that I was in fact producing a valuable resource.
I have often been frustrated by the lack of detail in some of the golf course reviews to be found on the internet and so, as I started to develop my blog, a philosophy started to emerge. I base my golf course reviews on the following approach:
- I never give a London golf course a “bad” review. This might seem idealistic or lacking in critical vigor but I would argue that there are very few golf courses that genuinely deserve a bad review. Golf courses are like golfers, they can have a bad day. I always bear this in mind when writing.
- Promote equality and accessibility. The spirit of London golf belongs as much to the municipal public golf course as it does to Wentworth. The same rules and etiquette apply. Golf as a sport is competing in an ever increasingly leisure market and needs to adapt to be more inclusive that it’s traditionally perceived.
- Use my blog to promote London golf and London as a global golfing destination. This goes without saying; 17 million tourists a year, how many of them play golf? How many of them would play golf if they could? Add to the 8.5 million resident in the capital the further 8.5 million living in the home counties and London is a condensed market with huge potential.
- Encourage participation. As I have visited more and more courses I’ve come to believe that golf clubs need to do more to get people into the game. There are over 2 million non-affliated golfers in England, the future of golf lays in the golf course visitor and growing the game.
I wanted to do more with my blog than simply record what a golf course is like, I want to communicate the spirit of a course, the sense of community, the joy (and occasional frustration) that this wonderful sport brings to so many people. It is my sincere hope that the reader will discover my blog, dust off their clubs and head out to their local course with a few friends. There really is nothing better than sharing a few hours on a London golf course with those that are close to you and enjoying this wonderful game.
Welcome to London and play well my friends.