- Neil White
The Berkshire - Red
"This is my favourite place on earth."
Buoyed by the endorsement of a 4-handicap society colleague, I played the best round of my life on the best course I have played so far.
In gorgeous late-summer sunshine, The Berkshire's Red Course was my golfing Shangri-La - every hole was such a delight, it inspired me to heights I didn't think I could attain.
This is the 22nd course in England's top 100 I have played since June and, while I loved several of the others, only St Enodoc had the same wow impact, for very different reasons.
The Berkshire Red is special because it looks stunning, is beautifully maintained and is, I think, unique - its 18 is made up of six par threes, six par fours and six par fives.
In attacking this new phenomenon and realising the presence of great swathes of purple heather, my business partner offered me a brilliant tip.
"Play shots which you can get right eight of ten times. Don't hit any which you can only make one in ten."
His advice was perfect for the occasion because our society comp was off the yellow tees and so, The Red, while potentially tricky, could be negotiated with delicate play rather than Dechambeau-style ball-smashing.
Therefore, my unreliable fairway woods remained in my bag while my five-iron and eight-iron took up the slack.
However, there is no doubt that the key to my success was my putting which, in our Stableford competition, helped me yield nine three-pointers and even a four with a confidence-injecting birdie on the fourth hole.
It is so tricky to identify favourite holes on the Red course because they are all so good but the right-dogleg sixth is worth mentioning - I witnessed a fellow competitor succeed with the most outrageous of fades off the tee but I went for a more conventional approace for my par.
And I felt a glow walking off with a three on the 217-yard 16 which is, according to my well-travelled playing partner, one of the best short holes in the world. I took a driver, landed just short and putted off the green to five feet.
Indeed, a putter is a handy weapon if shots are a few yards off target - I used mine in the way that I have attacked a few links this summer.
Meanwhile, I ought to say that I had been warned that The Berkshire is a bit stuffy.
I didn't find that at all. The staff, who were making sure we adhered to ant-Covid-19 rules, couldn't have been more accommodating and my lunchtime salmon melted in my mouth.
I could go on and on with the superlatives. The Berkshire is magnficent and playing the Red will take some beating as my best golfing experience.