Let us begin at the first hole and duly admire the view over the vast expanse of undulating ground that is the first and eighteenth. It is really, not a demanding drive but the ancient trees of Harpsden-Wood stand as an imposing rampart for those with a left-shot in the bag.
The second is a short hole on a plateau green; two tiers raised with bunkers resembling dragon’s nostrils fixing a threatening glance at those without enough club in hand. The slippery and sloping green will catch your attention, a substantial ridge splitting front from back.
The scorecard gives impressions of a painless short hole at five; considerably less that four hundred yards—a wide fairway partially in view. That is until we reach the putting green, a formidably sloping surface one should give the uppermost attention.
Provided we do not top our tee shot into hawthorn-soldiers at six, it should be done in four shots if not a three. For those with a brave heart the green can be driven; but beware the magnet of Harpsden-Valley, forever teasing your ball to dive right.
We are now on the plateau at Henley and ready for a stretch of long holes. Eight—the most enduring four shot hole—long and straight it is a challenge even on transcendent days. A friendly fairway but the player who misses may have little chance of ever reaching.
Even in fair conditions there are not many who will reach nine in two. But for a strong player there is a green which sits as a fortress—surrounding itself with a moat like trench. At the back of the green there is a hut, where lives homemade cakes, soups and other things; those who have made a four thoroughly deserving them.
Those who wish to finish with a flourish can aim at the “mayor’s office”, a flat section of fairway long and left-or even “pro’s alley” just beyond. This sets us for an aggressive second to a green close to the boundary—two well struck shots will leave us with a chance of a four, or even a treasured three.