A Jewel in The Crown, a Pearl amongst Swine, call it what you will but surely Hever Castle Golf Club, is a hidden gem that is set in the glorious Kent country side in the original grounds of Hever Castle near Royal Tunbridge Wells.
The early pace on the par 72 Hever Castle lay-out was set by previous winner on Tour, Paul Maddy with a stunning 7 under par 65 that set a new professional course record and would prove to be tough to beat as the breeze strengthened throughout the day.
David Salisbury and Dale Whitnell put together rounds of 6 under par to head up the pursuing pack of Mark Laskey on 4 under with John Chamberlain and Luke Joy tucked in behind on 3 under par.
A rare bird was spotted during the day when Liam Robinson scored an Albatross on the par Five 9th hole which was then immediately followed by 3 birdies on the spin to eventually help him compile a rather modest round of level par.
A total of 21 players beat the par of 72 so an exciting second days' play was in prospect with several players in with a shout at the title.
After a spectacular night of thunderstorms and torrential rain the second day broke fine and dry for the players to mount their charge for the title and with the course in top class condition, a low score was certainly on the cards.
Sure enough just a day after Paul Maddy had set a new course record Ryan Harrison went on a birdie fest and carded an 8 under par 64 to set the very early clubhouse target at 5 under par and establish a new course record.
Hugo Dobson eventually caught and passed Harrison adding a solid 6 under par 66 to his first round of 72 and sit on top of the heap on 6 under par.
Dobson held the lead for just a few minutes because Scott Fallon added a fine 6 under par 66 to his one under first round to lead on 7 under for the time being.
Mark Laskey in the penultimate group added a 3 under par 69 to his first round 68 to join Fallon in the clubhouse lead and with just one group to come they both sat and hoped for a play-off opportunity at least.
News from the course was mixed, with first round leader Maddy in meltdown and Salisbury with numerous dropped shots on the back nine, it was Dale Whitnell, seemingly oblivious to the dramas going on around him, who strode on to shoot a solid 4 under par 68 to win by 3 shots on 10 under par and take the winners cheque for £3,500.
Although a little disappointed at missing out on a play-off both Laskey and Fallon were cheered up a little by winning £1,750 each for tied second.
Hever Castle Golf Club is a fantastic facility offering a superb golf course with excellent practice facilities and a very traditional feel to a welcoming clubhouse that offers excellent, reasonably priced food and beverages to enjoy.
The Players Club, near Bristol is our next port of call on Monday and Tuesday, so if you want to play on one of the Best in the West, and play against the best, rather than the rest, enter soon but 6:00pm Friday latest.