And whilst this course couldn't quite match them on a consistent basis throughout the entire 18 holes it was more than worth the trip to go and play. In fact there were a couple of holes that will linger long in the memory!
Tandridge isn't actually a heathland course itself but has the same type of firm and springy turf that the Surrey Sand-belt courses are famed for. It's a beautiful layout carved through mature woodland and exposes itself over varied terrain. It instantly reminded me of a course in Cheshire called Prestbury. It therefore came as no surprise when I discovered that the same esteemed architect, Harry Colt, was the creator of both.
A full restoration of the bunkers is currently taking place and with around half the work already completed it has really brought these holes to life. The style, with rough raggedy edges and long fescue grass topping the edges on some, may not be to everybody's liking but I thought they looked superb and gave the course a real old fashioned and natural feel to it.
I found the placement of some of the new bunkers excellent giving me the option of hitting driver, 3 wood or 3 iron from the tee to either avoid them and face a longer approach or flirt with them to get closer to the green. The bunkers almost in the centre of the fairways at the 3rd and 11th were absolutely fantastic and placed just where you would have liked your ideal drive to finish.
The first nine holes are played over the flatter part of the course but still provide some interesting holes. The first, a short par five, does little more than get you away but the second starts to set the tone with a fade required from the tee before the hole opens up and you play downhill to a lovely green setting with a double level. As mentioned previously the highlight of the third is the drive to avoid the excellent bunkering but the second shot also requires respect with a deep bunker to the right. The short fourth up the hill is protected by dramatic bunkering at both the front and back.
The drive at the fifth is another high point of the round. The length of 444 yards dictates that you really need to hit driver in order to give yourself the best chance of reaching the green in two but the bunkering narrows the fairway at just the right point requiring the straightest shot to pierce the quartet of hazards. The next two holes run parallel to each other and are a medium par four followed by a short par four, both excellent holes with delightful green complexes. The 8th is another picturesque uphill par three with more superb bunkering and angled green before the front nine closes with a really inviting par five, the approach to the green with Tudor-style clubhouse in the background is a true joy.
So far, so good. And it gets better.
The course not only shifts through the gears on the back nine it is also played over the more interesting ground. Colt has really worked his magic to give the golfer a rollercoaster ride of holes on the second half.
The 10th is a strong hole and the tee-shot at the 11th is fantastic, both solid par fours although what looked like artificial mounding that separated the 10th and 18th didn't quite look right. If the drive at the 12th is more mundane then the second or third shot to this par five more than makes up for it with the green perched on the skyline.
What follows are two wonderful holes. I stood on the tee of the 13th and tried to remember a better par three I have ever played. I struggled. It is just perfect. It can play a maximum of 215 yards and favours a ball coming in from the left with a slight fade. But there are sand traps, gorse and pines to the left for anything too wide and more deep bunkers that fall sharply off the right edge of the green. The position and style of them make this one of the best holes I've ever played.
I was still purring with delight when I got to the tee on the next and saw the drive down to the fairway below. A truly inspiring tee-shot which if executed well will then leave you with a second shot across a small brook up to a plateau green sitting on the hillside with more succulent bunkering.
A lovely short par three follows before a tricky par four of just 296 yards played to a two-tiered green. The 17th is almost identical to the 13th but in the opposite direction and not quite as jaw-dropping although the green location is classic Colt and a wonderful setting. The 18th is a fine finishing hole with a left-to-right shape required form the tee before another approach into the marvellously bunkered green which has a tricky little swirl at the front.
The views are also superb at Tandridge across the Surrey Downs and into Kent and Sussex but they are easy to miss because you will most likely be concentrating on the quality of golf holes facing you. However, the vista from just short of the 13th green across to the 18th is mesmeric and worth taking a couple of moments to savour.
I'd love to return to Tandridge when the full bunker restoration is complete. Especially since many of the new bunkers will come on the back-nine which is played over the more undulating terrain. I'm sure this will add to the drama of these holes and create some very impressive looking drives and approaches.
Following a 4:00am alarm call we’d already driven for more than six hours and covered over 350 road miles before boarding a ferry at Oban sailing to Lochboisdale.
The Halifax Golf Club, often better known as Ogden, is a course that divides opinion.