A sensational new course designed by golf legend Seve Ballesteros – his first in England – will open in spring 2007 in Barnet, north London. The Shire London is a magnificent, undulating 7,200-yard championship golf course bearing all the hallmarks of the iconic Spaniard at his swashbuckling, cavalier best.
With water featuring on twelve holes – including the first four – the course is a visually stunning challenge to golfers of all abilities. It is designed for maximum enjoyment, with equal numbers of par 3s, 4s and 5s, and no two consecutive holes are the same par. And the approach shot to the green on the spectacular 18th hole – across an ‘S’-shaped lake (for ‘Seve’ and ‘Shire’) – will present arguably the toughest climax to a round of golf anywhere in the UK.
Ballesteros himself has been personally involved in the design and build of The Shire London, making several visits to work closely with owners Tony and Anne Menai Davis on creating a high-quality but affordable course, which will also host the UK’s very first Seve School of Natural Golf – a teaching academy following the philosophies of the 5-times Major-winning Spaniard.
Speaking earlier today from his home in Spain Seve said, “I am delighted to launch my first full UK golf course, which I believe golfers will grow to love with a passion. As soon as I was told about the project, I wanted to participate immediately to design a challenging, beautiful course which can be played and enjoyed by golfers of all abilities – as well as being capable of hosting world class events.
“My 18-hole design for at The Shire London is very challenging in parts, but it is a course that will always reward adventurous golf. My team and I have worked very closely with the excellent team at The Shire, and we all feel this is a golf course that the whole world will want to come and play.”
Owners Tony and Anne Menai Davis have spared nothing to fulfil their dream of building a unique, modern golf course which can be played and enjoyed by all. Said Tony, “Everyone will be guaranteed a warm welcome here. I was fed up of going to golf courses where all you saw were signs telling you what you couldn’t do. So Anne and I decided we should build our own place – somewhere a bit different, very welcoming and highly enjoyable, where people aren’t afraid to have fun on or off the course.
“Of course the quality at The Shire London will be exceptional, but I believe it should be a golfer’s playground too. That’s why I asked Seve to design the course…he’s the greatest shot-maker we’ve ever seen. Golf should be played the way he played it.”
More than 1,000,000 tons of earth have been moved to create The Shire London, with USGA-spec greens built by leading agronomist George Shiels, advisor previously on world class golf courses such as Penina, La Manga, The Belfry, The Warwickshire, The Grove and many more. To date, 3,000 mature trees have been planted, with another 1,000 to be added before Spring 2007 and a further 3,000 to follow in the two years after launch.
“The Shire London is an evolving project,” added Tony, “but from day one golfers will feel like they’re playing a mature golf course. Even now, a year from launch, our trees add visual beauty and we think people will be surprised by how mature the course looks when they come to play it.”
The greens at The Shire London, especially designed with graded sands and gravels to aid drainage and ensure an excellent surface, are lightning quick and true with subtle slopes and borrows, and offering a variety of pin positions – including several difficult ‘final day’ specials.
The Shire London has all the hallmarks of a Seve-designed golf course and will add to the Ryder Cup winning star’s growing reputation as a world-renowned golf course designer. It has been specifically designed for enjoyment: of the six par threes, two are long and demanding, two are mid-length and two are shorter birdie opportunities. The same ratio applies to the six par fours and six par fives.
The Shire London (‘Shire’ stands for ‘Seve’s Home In Rural England’) is approximately 7,200 yards long from the ‘Diamond’ or tournament tees, but golfers can choose to play from three other tee positions – ‘Emerald’ or medal tees (around 6,500 yards); ‘Sapphire’ or society tees (around 6,000 yards); and ‘Ruby’ or ladies’ tees (around 5,500 yards). Golfers make their own choice which tees to use, meaning green fee golfers will have the rare opportunity to play from the championship-length ‘Diamond’ back tees.
In typical Seve fashion, the first and last holes make a statement about the challenge that the whole course presents. Both will provide a nerve-jangling test of a golfer’s shot-making ability. The 1st hole is a picturesque 160-yard par 3, played downhill across a lake to a tightly guarded green surrounded on three sides by water. And on the 410-yard par 4 18th hole, the golfer is faced with a mid-iron second shot requiring a carry over not one but two strips of water to a amphitheatre style green circled by an S-shaped lake – all in full view of the clubhouse. The 18th green, like many on the course, provides ample spectacular viewing opportunities for spectators.
The Shire London combines distinct links, parkland and woodland sections. Six tree-lined woodland holes, six more open copse-strewn parkland holes and six traditional links style holes ensure that every round on the golf course is full of excitement and variety.
Alongside the 1st and the 18th, other stand-out holes include the short par three 7th over water to a sleeper-faced island green with strong echoes of the 17th at Sawgrass, the par four 15th, where no less than four lakes have to be negotiated, and the long par three 17th, set hard against a lake on the right hand side.
The par 72 (SSI 73) 18-hole golf course is expected to host elite level events by 2008/09 and features almost 70 bunkers and a dozen lakes.
The shorter 9-hole course at The Shire London is designed specifically with a mixture of full length par 3s and 4s, with four water holes to teach players how to cope with the daunting water hazards on the main course. The 9-hole course, built to a high standard, is also home to The Shire’s exciting juniors, families and beginners golf programmes.
The Shire London golf complex will feature a new clubhouse with gym, saunas and swimming pool, with a glass frontage affording panoramic views of the course particularly the photogenic 18th green.
“I am convinced that we have created the most exciting new golf project in England,” said Tony Menai Davis. “Not only will The Shire London boast a golf course unlike anything else in the country, it will also house the Seve School of Natural Golf in the UK, where golfers of all ages will be taught – and can practice – every shot in the book. And our off-course facilities will be superb, with exceptional conference and dining facilities plus a gym specialising in golf-related fitness programmes.
“Our relationship with Seve and his team could not be stronger, and we are thrilled to be giving golfers the chance to test themselves against the challenges created by the world’s most exciting golfer – Seve Ballesteros.”
PGA professional Lee Cox, 35, joins The Shire London as director of golf from the A1 Golf Range and will head the Seve School of Natural Golf.
Lee, together with Ceri and Cai Menai Davis, are designing a series of training programmes for junior golfers based on Seve’s philosophies, and working directly with Seve on a teaching video.
“This is an amazing project and I am delighted to be on board. Seve and his team have created something very special and The Shire London will provide people with the ultimate golfing experience – whether playing or practising,” said Lee. “Seve was my inspiration to take up golf and it’s fantastic that I will be using his methods to help golfers improve their skills.”
The Shire London course and facilities will be open for use from late April 2007 and is priced to be accessible to all golfers. Membership fees will be announced later in the summer, however midweek green fees will start from £40, with weekend green fees from £60 and societies packages from £50. Sales and bookings start on July 31st 2006.
Tony Menai Davis added, “Although we are a very high quality facility, we want to keep prices at an affordable level. We want true golf lovers to arrive, have a superb day, test their skills against some amazing new golf challenges, and go back with nothing but positive things to say about The Shire London.”
The Shire London www.seveinlondon.com