It’s every golfer’s dream. A private facility where you can practise and play whenever you want. No green fees, dress code or four-ball in front.
With nine greens, 13 tees and 18 holes, the layout of the course on the 50-acre estate of David Gold is somewhat unconventional. Which is not altogether surprising, since David, a hugely successful and decidedly unconventional businessman, designed it himself.
It started off as a modest green back in 1991 upon which genteel putting contests took place before tea and scones on Sunday afternoons. “Then someone brought a wedge along,” recalled David. Since pitching and putting proved more challenging and enjoyable, a tee was constructed and the opening hole was created. A second par-3 followed and David, a talented footballer in his youth, was hooked on golf.
Each hole is named after one of his business interests. The first, “Ann Summers”, carries the name of his retail chain. “St Andrews” has nothing to do with a certain links course in Scotland, but has been christened in honour of the home ground of his beloved Birmingham City, of which he is chairman. While the rather exposed 14th is called “The Sport”, after the newspaper he co-owns.
Although the course consists mainly of par-3s, there is a smattering of par-4s and a couple of challenging par-5s. Standard scratch is a rather generous 66 and the course record of 73 is held by Jasper Carrott.
Another famous name, actor Robert Powell, has recorded the only hole in one. It came on a 214-yard par-4. To the suggestion that perhaps that hole should more properly be designated a par-3, David simply responded, “It’s my course.” As well as the owner, he is also the captain and, if his handicap improves much below its present 24, he might even appoint himself club professional as well.
Since he’s not a member anywhere else, his home-produced handicap certificate has proved useful. It allowed him on at Penina in Portugal, for example. Although they had not heard of “The Chalet Championship Golf Club”, David was able to reassure them that it was an incredibly exclusive establishment.
It’s bad enough when you get stuck in a bunker playing golf, but it’s very much more serious when you’re flying a plane
As he gazed out of the living room/clubhouse window over his proud creation, course architect David Gold admitted to having made one mistake.
“I’ve had to fill in the fairway bunkers on the 560-yard 6th hole,” he confessed. “You see, that’s the landing strip for my Cessna aeroplane. It’s bad enough when you get stuck in a bunker playing golf, but it’s very much more serious when you’re flying a plane.”