A heathery visual treat

Ferndown (Old)

Ferndown Golf Club (Old)

Date Reviewed
May 5, 2017
Reviewed by Ed Battye
Ferndown is one of those golf courses that simply looks the business, the bees knees, the mutts nuts… I could go on. It must be a photographer’s dream.

Standing on the first tee you look down the hole and your eyes take in a beautifully defined fairway, a mass of heather-topped frilly bunkers, with flashes of white sand, and glorious pine trees framing the hole. This is just about repeated another 17 times throughout the round.

Optically the course reminded me of West Hill in Surrey and if this is what you like, and let’s face it most of us do, then you will enjoy your round here. And whilst it’s not an easy golf course it isn’t too taxing either so a good score is to be had; the fairways are generous, the property is relatively flat and you won’t be able to blame the greens for a missed putt because they roll extremely true. Tangle with the heather, fall victim to the many bunkers or say hello to the pine trees though and you may have a different tale to tell.

At 6,508 yards (par 71) this Harold Hilton designed course, founded in 1913, is no brute but there are a few dog-leg holes where driver from the tee may not be the correct choice nor may it be at the excellent eighth where a desert of sand awaits a pulled drive just as the fairway bottlenecks before you pitch to a green hanging tantalisingly on the hillside.

The other hole that really caught my eye was the “driveable” 16th. I say driveable because there is actually a sign on the tee discouraging you from going for it, and in truth it probably isn’t the sensible play anyway. What it is though is a magnificent hole and this is thanks to a unique semi-circular, three-tiered green that falls slightly away from the angle of play. Getting close to the green is easy, staying on it is harder and putting your ball in the hole once on it can be trickier than a Rubik’s Cube if you find yourself on the wrong level. Quite brilliant.

The remainder of the course is very solid without being truly exceptional or overly exciting. It just goes about its business in an unassuming and handsome manner. I enjoyed the paar-three second (the best of the short holes), the sixth with its dramatic bunkers carved into a rising fairway, as well as the ninth and tenth. I also liked how you return to the clubhouse a few times during the round; ideal for those with a weak bladder or the munchies.

The run of holes from 11 to 13 (maybe 14, perhaps even 15) has a slightly different feel to the rest of the course; I hesitate to use the word weak (the 11th is a stellar hole) but the feel is not quite as consistent or as rich as the rest of the property. Regardless, Ferndown finishes in style with another visual feast at the 18th where you gently climb back up to the clubhouse.

Looking back now a few days later and my favourite holes were the ones with a bit more elevation change. For anyone who reads my reviews (all two of you) you’ll know my personal preference is for golf courses that have a bit more movement in the land, offer strategic options on how to play each hole, promote the ground game and are very natural in appearance. Ferndown doesn’t quite tickle my taste buds in this respect, however, if you favour appearance and conditioning over strategy and terrain then Ferndown is the course for you.

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