by Richard Wax, Golf consultant /
The most satisfying moment in my career for the past thirty years as golf consultant has to be when attending a European Tour event attracting over 60,000 spectators on a course where one has made a contribution from the very early stages. This happened at The British Masters hosted by Luke Donald held in mid-October 2016 at The Grove in north-west London when top professionals played the superbly conceived course designed by Kyle Phillips.
The 227 room five star hotel, business and event venue, magnificent spa and conference centre opened in 2003. The destination is within half an hour from the centre of London and Heathrow Airport. It bears the totally appropriate title of “London’s Country Estate” and improves year on year. Aspiring developers of resorts would learn a great deal by spending time at The Grove. Good ideas have been brought together for the pleasure of every sector of the market.
One of my favourite spaces is the lounge/library in the historic mansion. Another is the walled garden and a nearby area specially conceived to welcome children with their own supervised indoor swimming pool.
The quality of the golf course maintenance under its remarkable Course Manager, Phil Chiverton, provoked the following comment I heard from a spectator at a crossing point.”The Grove’s fairways are better than the greens at our home course!” This is Europe’s best conditioned course bar none.
In my mind’s eye I can revisit the flat fields I first visited in 1997 which Phillips transformed into a piece of golfing magic. We would spend time with the construction shaper appreciating the subtleties of the golfing classic courses of Surrey and Berkshire. Green complexes at The Grove were inspired by Colt, Simpson and Park. They feature swales short and right of the putting surfaces.
The average golfer sends 90% of their shots to the right. They are much more relaxed about playing a running chip or long putt rather than a bunker recovery. This leads to their enjoying The Grove experience rather than spending the round extricating a ball from sand. The true greatness of a golf course is that it appeals to the amateur without humiliating him/her. At the same time it should pose a challenge to the world’s finest players.
Ten years ago the AMEX World Golf Challenge was won here by eight shots by Tiger Woods. Swede Alex Noren’s win this year by two shots proved that this layout brings the cream to the top.
The Grove is an object lesson in examining every square centimetre of one’s property and delivering a complete product satisfying every attraction for both the international and local market. Good ideas on top of other good ideas.
It was a deep joy to return and see how a quality golf-related development can be created and maintained to world class standards. My sincere congratulations to the owners and their motivated team for creating and animating a world class destination. RWA