The Golf Course
The opening holes visible from the front of the clubhouse are a gentle introduction to a stiffer test waiting among the oaks and hawthorn which puncture the common skyline and fairways.
Although the length of the course and a par of 69, would not suggest a great challenge for the category one player, the Mitcham Open is a popular fixture in the Surrey County Golf Union's Order of Merit, with many well-known
amateur winners of the Lavender Trophy down the years.
The amateur course record is six-under, but not many players come away with an unblemished card - as the members of the Surrey CGU who play their autumn meeting at Mitcham each September, have no doubt discovered.
To be successful at Mitcham you need to hit your drives straight. While the greens are not overprotected by bunkers, they are on the whole quite small - and in summer provide a tricky target when the ball is running, and bouncing.
Only three of the original holes remain but the fairways have been improved steadily down the years, and the intelligent use of an all-year round preferred lies rule ensure you get to enjoy the occasional irregularities of the
landscape without undue penalty.
In many places, your iron shots are from tight lies more normally associated with traditional seaside links, and despite the presence of traffic along one side of the course and the trains on the other, reminding you how close
you are to the capital's centre, the woodland setting creates a tranquillity some countryside courses cursed by nearby motorways and inter-city rail links struggle to match.
Playing Mitcham is a gentle stroll even carrying your bag - but its four long par threes are a real challenge in a medal, while off the yellows they require accurate mid-iron play from visitors unfamiliar with the subtle
nuances of the greens.
The 193-yard eighth is often played into the wind. It is part of the four-hole circuit on the other side of the tram tracks -
made easier by the demolition of an old bridge with golfers now using a level crossing - and the drive down the 300-yard ninth is exceptionally tight on the right thanks to the tram track for anyone tempted to have a
crack at the green, while a copse and hollow curtail any short cut to the left.
Only one of the par fours is over 400 yards off the whites, and with the wide fairway of the par five 10th - measuring 538 yards with a gentle dog leg to the left - it is easy to see why the club today has a thriving
seniors section. Nine of the members are still enjoying a round into their 80s.
The 17th is a joy with its gently rippled fairway basked in shade and the wide, raised green so shallow it can fool your judgement on your approach shot, before an unusual par three finish from a raised tee which cleverly
uses a clutch of hedges in front of the target to distract the eye.