Itís Castle day and an early start. First up is Hever Castle, a course that I have played several years ago and one I am looking forward to playing again. After a warm up on the range that sits right next to the first tee and after a quick chat with the starter I hit my tee shot that ends up in the second cut of rough on the left of the fairway on this gentle downhill 411-yard opening hole. There is one bunker protecting the green on the left but a 9-iron into the middle of the green sees me safely putt for an opening par.
There are four teeing options to choose from to help you enjoy this course and placement on the second is all important as there is water down the left, you then play up to a slightly elevated green so I would recommend a long iron from tee. The 3rd also has an elevated green but this time you are unable to see the green, just the pin and the green is only 22-yards deep with a front bunker protecting it. Itís a great golf hole and at 426-yards playing to that uphill green deserves its stroke index two rating.
The first of two par 3s on the front arrives after two wonderfully designed holes and at 128-yards with the green nestling in the trees and water on the right, it may be the easiest hole on the course but it can jump up and bite you if you are not fully committed to your tee shot. The 8th is played over water to a raised green that has lots of contours and is protected by bunkers left and right, oh and weighs in at 191-yards. Donít worry if you drop a shot there; you could always try and pick it back up with birdie on the 523-yard par 5 closing hole to the front nine that is played uphill.
I would suggest you take a break at the excellent halfway hut that sits by the 10th hole, but today unfortunately I donít have time, but as I have another chance at birdie on the downhill 479-yard 10th hole which plays as a par 5 I am more than happy to carry on with the run I am on.
The 11th to the 13th showcase the beauty of the Championships course, the 11th is an iron off the tee as there is a stream in the landing area and water on the left, you then play to an uphill green. The 12th is the first of the par 3s on the back nine and is a true stunner of a hole played from an elevated tee to a green that is protected by water. The 13th is also played from an elevated tee and has a very narrow landing area with trees down the right and water on the left which also meanders down to protect the front of the green. They are a fantastic run of golf holes.
The course closes with a couple of well designed holes; firstly the 435-yard 16th which is played to a fairly narrow fairway that sits between trees and the second shot is played through that funnel of trees to a green that sits just beyond in the opening. But as I make my way to the 17th tee I suddenly notice that this is a 627-yard par 5 and is playing all of that and more today into the wind, I am playing with a Golf Monthly colleague and while we both make the green in three he holes his birdie putt to win our match. Itís certainly a beast of a hole but it was great fun playing it, but there is no time to rest as we are off to Leeds Castle for our afternoon round.
Top Looking back down the 11th hole. Above: 4th, 12th and 13th holes