Sometimes your wishes do come true and so a big thanks to JR and ID. Even 24 hrs torrential rain (which only stopped as we reached the turn) couldnít kill the fun.
Even the full name, JCB Golf and Country Club, is not your typical of the GB&I experience. It has the smallest Car Park Iíve ever seen at a GC and the changing room is positively minute, a few padded bench seats and complimentary lockers, but with plentiful showers etc. The common area are comparatively spacious and the service is efficient but never overbearing. I was really surprised that a world beating firm having built this right by their HQ did so little to promote their brand Ė to the point where I was a tad disappointed not to learn more. Warm up facilities are nearer at hand than anywhere else I can think of. Everything was ďjust soĒ. Its what I want from somewhere ďexclusiveĒ, I want to feel comfortable.
As the first is a hundred yards away it is readily apparent this is a cartball course. However I had never previously appreciated the relief from the rain they provide, so I wonít moan too much.
Without going into detail Iíll just say I loved every hole. Thereís lots of visual distractions some holes play easier than they look with large landing areas and others more difficult e.g as we are tempted by the thought of taking on the doglegs. Loved the use of centreline bunkers. The greens are very large and have some surprisingly severe definition of discrete areas within them e.g. 17 and 18. Really a great set of greens that define the course, without any feeling of repetition or the dreaded scalloped edge construction. Some of the areas in front of greens have to be seen to be believed and the run off areas surprised and delighted me. Chipping off short grass gives a chance to recover (or make a fool of oneself). The colour of the sand seemed just right. The whole flowed seamlessly, offering a series of interesting challenges.
The 11th seemed almost like an homage to the 10th at the Belfry?(thatís meant as a compliment)
Negatives? Still not 100% convinced that the style of bunker edging is perfectly suited to inland Britain. Whilst the before photo's in the clubhouse show what a great job has been done creating "naturally undulating" fairways, in one or two places the mounding in the rough is a little obvious - including either side of the drive in. Aesthetics aside, the only criticism I'd offer of playability is that the 18th is unremittingly difficult from drive to green. Could not the left hand fairway bunker in front of the green, be filled in and a flat area be created allowing The Rabbit a chance to safely negotiate a path to get on in 3? I probably would still have got myself in trouble, but there was no choice but to try and play off pretty severely sloping lies. On the whole the course coped really well with the deluge but our group did lose 2 balls Ė presumably plugged in the rough.
But back in the clubhouse thatís not what I was thinking of. A warm glow banishing the cold of the day. The Renaissance Club is the only new that I've seen can compare to this, and that has much better land.
Thanks Robin. A very fine job, well done.