It is good to be home and almost reassuring that we have no immediate plans to travel again in the near future; it feels like a good time to hibernate. This week marked my first round of golf for 2013 at Matfen Hall. I remember this course being built in the grounds of a Cheshire Home in the early nineties and these many years later it has matured to the point where it feels like an intended part of the landscape. It is challenging and best played out of season when it is quiet and not over-populated with societies, those who feel they must line up at every putt as though the Ryder Cup depended on it and groups of casual visitors for whom the adjacent par 3 course is probably a test too far. In the summer this is the land of the 5 hour round but on Thursday, with no more than a dozen hardy golfers out, it was just fine.
This is one of my first digital photographs; after years of conventional photography, I still remember the amazed delight at these instant results taken with a Fuji FinePix6900 Zoom on New Year’s Day 2002. It shows the 18th at Matfen complete with resident swan on the River Pont; the tee shot is played across the water and the fairway doglegs left to a green just off the edge of the photograph. It is a magnificent finishing hole in front of the Jacobean style mansion.
This image is less successful but it does include the glorious stone bridge that takes golfers from the tee to fairway; it is a very solid construction, originally intended for the passage of cattle over the River Pont.
Two features dominate the course – the quite narrow but deep and fast flowing River Pont which comes into play on four holes and the Ha-ha which cuts across the entire course and comes into play on another four, more if you have an unreliable swing. The Ha-ha comprises a drystone wall where the ground is built up on one side such that views from the main house are uninterrupted by animal enclosures; playing up close to a Ha-ha on the steep side makes for an almost impossible golf shot. The same device surrounds the gardens immediately in front of the hall, thereby keeping livestock, but not agile golfers, off the main lawn.