Paultons, situated at Ower just off junction 2 of the M27, prides itself on the course – particularly the greens – being playable in all weathers. That reputation was certainly put to the test on November 8th, when I participated in the golf day organised by Hunters Land Rover dealership in Southampton. Former KES colleague Pete Jones and I set off, with John & Richard, in light rain which was to intersperse with heavy downpours for most of the five hours the round was to take, the length of the experience enhanced by a buggy breaking down two holes after we commandeered it at the turn. The rather nice clubhouse sits atop a hill with the 18th and 9th greens in front of it, to which you obviously play up, and the 1st and 10th tees from which you play down. Makes sense, I suppose. The front nine is well balanced in that it boasts three par 5s, three par 4s and three par 3s but is largely unremarkable, in my humble opinion, being largely rather open and featureless. The attractive dogleg 10th brings you to a series of tree-lined fairways which raises the level of golfing interest and aesthetic values, the short par 3 12th being a particularly nice affair set in a bosky clearing and requiring an accurate wedge of some sort. The woodland idyll takes you to the signature 15th, Jan’s Dilemma, a par 3 of some 160 yards which would pose no problem whatsoever except that someone has placed a rather large pond between the tee and the green.
If you are unlucky enough to be so mesmerised by the expanse of water as to plonk your ball in it, you are obliged to put a pound in the jar on the clubhouse bar. You have been warned. There then follow two rather epic par 4s, at 430 and 456 yards respectively off the white tees with stroke indices of 3 and 1. Talk about a sting in the tail! If you survive those unscathed, you have only to biff your ball up the hill to the clubhouse again: at 295 yards you might hope to get quite near the green off the tee, which will make you look good in front of the spectators on the clubhouse terrace.
And there it is. An enjoyable enough course, with the back nine offering the better combination of entertainment and sporting challenge. On the day we finished in the dry, which was nice, but it was without doubt one of the longest and wettest rounds of golf I have ever experienced.