Thursday 5th April. 5.30pm. Central Manchester. And I am playing the 7th hole (Lang Wynd) at Kingsbarns. It’s a great hole, 461 yards off the Championship tee. No wind today – but still requires a long, straight drive. Another sip of Peroni and I am ready to give it a go. This is golf – but not as I have ever experienced before.
The Range www.therange.uk.com is a fantastic new golf club situated amongst the bustling bars and restaurants in Spinningfields. My good friend and golf-nut Naga is a member, giving her an opportunity to keep her swing solid whilst working from the famous BBC red sofa in Salford. Her equally golf-obsessed husband James and I were her playing partners and, trust me, this was no friendly bounce game.
Founder and Director, Andrew McLoughney and the team were the perfect hosts – making sure that we were properly set-up and, just as important, took our orders for drinks and snacks. We were able to select our course from a bucket-list of options. Kingsbarns got our vote as we had all played it recently so we could gauge how authentic the experience really is. And it is authentic, apart from the fact I didn’t lose a ball. OK, I didn’t feel the wind in my hair. Or smell the sea. But you still have the sounds of the ball strikes, the rustling of the grass and the splash as a wayward drive ends up in the North Sea.
For what it is worth Naga won. James didn’t. However they were very generous with my handicap, especially as I was +23 after 14 holes. These guys are both single-figure handicappers so know their way around.
In summary, a really innovative and fun way to spend an afternoon or evening with friends. Great bar and food, lively friendly atmosphere and a chance to play one of the great courses in golf. And perhaps a taster for heading up the M6 to see how realistic it really is!
Huge thanks to Naga for the invite. To Andrew and his team for making it a great experience. And to James for ensuring I was not last. And the curry and beers after were not too bad either…..