When it comes to verdant golf courses, London’s fringe has them in spades — clubs such as Wentworth and the Grove are enough to make the heart of any golfer skip a beat. Though in town, there’s never been enough striking distance to hear the call of ‘Fore!’ Until now, that is, as Greenwich’s impending new golf driving range is set to become a hub for city-dwelling aficionados. “It will certainly have the ‘wow’ factor — there is nowhere else like it in the UK. To have a golf driving range on the banks of the River Thames hitting out towards Canary Wharf on your left and the O2 dome on your right will be very special. It’s one of the most exciting golf projects for over thirty years in the UK,” says Phil Richins, marketing director of N1 Golf, the team responsible for the project.
Akin to New York’s Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, the iconic urban driving range where golfers take their swats across the Hudson River, the new Peninsula club is making a statement as a unique experience: “Golf in central London is predominantly played by hitting balls into simulators, which means that the player is only hitting the ball about eight feet into a sheet before the simulator takes over and gives a projected outcome of the shot played. To be able to hit a ball outside and actually get a feel for the shot and be able to see the flight of a ball is critical in the learning and improvement of one’s game.”
Sixty individual bays hitting out on to a 280-yard fairway will feature nine individual targets set at differing distances. Aside this, state-of-the-art golf ball flight technology will offer players real data on the accuracy of their shots. A fully serviced N1 Golf Academy, manned by six PGA pros, will be available for tuition and advice for beginners through to low handicappers.
The driving range promises to provide a cracking day out, and golfers can enjoy a drink and snack from tables positioned behind each bay while watching friends and family hit balls. It’s also a top spot to fit in some sought-after mid-week R&R. “There are many thousands of golfers in London, though most will not have had the opportunity or facilities to nip out and hit a few balls after work. This range changes that,” says Richins.
Back at the clubhouse, a new restaurant and wine bar, Vinotech Compass, will be on site, helmed by Arnaud Compas and Keith Lyons. Both are veterans of the wine import trade, and plan to bring their extensive knowledge, and simply, appreciation for a fine drop, to the table. Wines will be predominantly European-focused, alongside a solid selection of wines from the US — New York and Virginia, and across to the west coast, including California, Washington and Oregon — a couple of wines from Mexico, and also Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. “Anywhere on the planet that is producing good wine,” says Lyons. “Many of the wines are not available elsewhere in the UK. It’s going to be great fun.”
After finessing your swing on the driving range, golfers can head to the wine school, set to run from the end of September, for tutored tastings: “Arnaud and I import wine. But we like talking to the consumer, establishing what they enjoy drinking and then challenging them,” Lyons says.
Vinotech Compass will also purvey an extensive beer list: “We’re going to take our beer as seriously as our wines,” says Lyons. Chefs Jordi Rovira Segovia and Daniel Rodriguez Navas, who has also cooked in the kitchens of London’s Aqua Nueva and Pizarro, have created a menu focusing on produce with local provenance, including small plates of Welsh rarebit, smoked Jura sausages served on gin-infused sauerkraut, or crab ravioli with saffron oil.
Mains adopt a British focus, such as grass-fed dry-aged Black Angus beef from Butchers Hook in Chipping Barnet. Brunch features traditional winners such as French toast with berries, or avocado and pancetta on sourdough. Of course, practicing your swing isn’t compulsory to enjoying the fruits of the restaurant or wine bar, though Lyons agrees golf and a good vintage are always a sound match: “It’s quite an interesting synergy, because I think, traditionally, golfers tend to enjoy drinking as well,” he laughs.