10 reviews of Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club (Old Course)
Much as I love this course at present it is in very bad shape. The combination of a severe winter and work on the watering system means that anyone paying the sizeable green fee will end up being very disappointed and a little upset that no one has the good grace to offer a reduced package, or explain their difficulties. Wait till it is all settled and back to it's best - Summer 2013?
It seemed a little odd when we were told that there were no bunkers here, but what a fantastic course....let's be honest, it was tough enough without bunkers! Royal Ashdown Forest is charmingly old fashioned, a real purists course with nature being the main architect - other than a few drainage didtches there is very little man-made about it. Low handicappers may find it a little too quirky for their liking, but it's easy to see why they get so many big amateur and professional events here. The members here can be seen as a little snooty, although most seemed happy to talk to us after our round. The staff here are also most helpful, with good catering and bar facilities. They also have a nice practice area which gives you plenty of chance to warm up before your round. All in all, very good!
Played R.A.F. Saturday just gone. Have been meaning to play it for a while and the wait didn't dissapoint. Lovely springy soft fairways that allow for perfect iron play. The greens had recently been hollow-tined and were a little wolly and slow, but the ball still had a fairly true roll, and the ball held well from the approach shots. I felt like a kid in a sweet shop standing on the 1st T with the anticipation of playing the course creating much excitement. There is a wonderful selection of holes, Par 3's ranging from 128yds on the 6th, to 249yds on the 11th. The 17th is an awesome 473yd Par 4 starting with a blind T Shot. The Par 4 1st is a fairly easy opener with everything laid out in front of you, from the White T's which is high above the fairway it is a great view to watch you ball flight. The 2nd is a blind T shot with your 2nd shot to a green with water in front. The 3rd is again laid out in front of you and again 2nd shot into the green has to be the right club as not much bail out behind and heather at the front. The 4th is an uphill T shot, with an uphill 2nd shot to the green where accuracy in paramount. 5th T shot is brilliant and a downhill Par 5, where again club selecton for the shot into the green is essential. I was just short but managed to cling onto the edge of the bank over the brook. 6th is a short 128yd Par the, which is not as easy as it sounds with a 2 tier green so you have to make sure onve again that you pick the right club. The 7th for me is one of the best T shots. The line to go for, if you a long of the T is the gap between the tree on the right side of the fairway, but you have to make sure you are long enough or you block yourself out for the approach to the green. Watching your ball sail between the trees is a fantastic feeling ;-) The 8th is a blind T shot but with a downhill shot to the green on this Par 5, with bunker protected on all sides by heather. The 9th is a slightly uphill Par 3. The front 9 has some lovely holes and the vistas are beautiful, but for me nothing compared to the back 9 .... The back 9 opens with a Par 5 to a green that is about only 20yds deep !!!! The 11th is a beautiful 249yd Par 3, played downhill so you can land the ball short and run on if you are lucky. Lovely views from the T. The 12th is once again a great looking hole, that like the others makes you want to play your best golf. A downhill Par 5 with a good chance of birdie. The 13th is an uphill Par 4 where you have to land your T shot in the right area for a chance of hitting the green in regualtion. **Be Warned... Coming of the 13th Green the sinage is non-existent for the 14th..... I looked at the course planner and it looked like it was directly behind the green.... After walking down a track for about 10mins I found out it was not the correct trk, so back the way I had just come and take the other trk and after about another 5-8min walk the T appears - BETTER SINAGE PLEASE** The 14th is a nice downhill Par 3 to a green with no real bail-out options. The 15th has the 2nd shot playing over a heather bank to a blind green. The 16th is another great T shot and a slightly uphill Par 4. There is a lovely row of houses on the left of the T, where I felt very very envious of the owners having such a fantastic course litteraly on their doorstep !!!! The 17th is a brilliant Par 4 standing at 473yds with a blind T shot where you have to land the ball in the right area. To long and you will be on the downslope to the lower part of the fairway, to short and you will have a 200yd 2nd shot to the green. On the correct level your 2nd shot is played to the green which is below you, and looks so so tiny in the distance. Again it makes you want to hit that perfect shot as you can watch the ball soar towards the hole. The final hole is not as difficult as it looks from the T. Playing across the 1st fairway the hole dips down in front of you and then plays up to the green. A slightly blind 2nd shot if you are not long enough of the T. Overall a real MUST PLAY course, with in my opioion some of the nicest holes I have had the pleasure of playing. Great variation of holes and although there are no bunkers on the course, it natural terrain is it's defence .... For me the wait was worht it, although on the other hand I so wish I had played it sooner, as by now I would have had many happy rounds there under my belt ;-) I am praying for nice weather this weekend as I am planning to go back with 3 friends and show them what they have been missing. If only I lived closer .... Play it and enjoy ;-)
We have just finished a two day golf trip to Royal Ashdown and have to say it is MAGNIFCENT. Thre are two courses,both of which are superb and you can read reviews elsewhere on this section.Although they are different both are playable and enjoyable,the Old being a much harder walk,if like us you had too much to drink the night before and only had two hours sleep. Our group stayed in the local hotel the Chequers and it was adequate for our needs,but get a deal,it is only five minute in the car to the course. The clubhouse is slightly unusual as it has two halves for each course,I preferred the Old half and the buffet lunch was just amazing for 5.00,served by staff who could not have treated us better,other clubs in the UK could learn something from this chef. If you are in the area give this place a try,I noticed they do great twilight deals also at about 15.00 which has to be the best 15.00 you can spend in Southern England Paul @ Birkdale Golf Trophies UK
Forged from the land without any artificial embellishment whatsoever, this is a wonderfully natural course. The hazards here are all God's work: streams, grassy pits, hollows, heather, bracken... However, if I was to be critical (which, let's face it I am, otherwise why bother writing this) I think there are a few weak holes here particularly 3, 4, 15 and arguably the 1st as well. A lot of architectural and design praise also seems to get heaped on the short par 3 sixth hole nicknamed the 'Island Hole' (and no it's not surrounded by water), which I can't really understand. For example, it's nowhere near as good as the similarly short par 3 sixth at North Wilts, but then I imagine that's because the latter is a much less high profile course. The best sequence at RAF is just after the turn, at the highest point of the layout where the views are superb: the 10th is a fantastic par 5 that plays predominantly uphill and with a green that is ludicrously shallow at just 18 yards! At the other end of the distance scale, the next is a brutal 249 yard par 3 but downhill and playable with a good wood. The 11th is the most famous of the par 5s, with carries over heather needed on both the tee and second shots and a tricky third too; actually, though, I preferred the tenth. However, I would contend that the best hole on the course is the 17th: one of the greatest and most challenging par 4s I've played. It could well be the longest par 4 in the UK (486 of the whites, a mere 472 off the yellows) and has a blind drive and then a downhill approach over a rough-filled valley to a speck of a green in the distance. A truly wonderful golf hole. We played in unbelievable humidity but I can imagine this is a lovely course to be out on in the winter, with a cosy old-fashioned clubhouse to return to. Finally, it's not really worth £70 per round at the weekend but I can understand they want to keep this one for the members. 9/10 'Young P'
This is an absolute must play. Its great to know that a course despite being over the century old without bunkers can still leave my rather cocky single figures handicap partner tearing their card up. This course oozes class I can see why its in the top 100 GW courses. The greens are fantastic and the fairways first class. My only tip would be to those new to heathland golf to keep your eye on the ball at all times because when it goes in the heather it can either be teed up for a driver or sunk so low that you can barely get a wedge to it. Some of the holes are truly memorable in particular the 17th although my favourite was the 5th a real death or glory par 5 with a wide gullied stream in front of the green. The pro and assisstants were polite and helpful and I felt none of the snootiness that I had been warned about from the members in fact the opposite was the case. If you are ticking off your list of courses played then add this course to your list, pay the heavy but worth it green fee and enjoy
Played the old course twice in a day in July, every hole a true plesure, the understated clubhouse oozes history and the staff are very friendly. Worth every penny and its nice to know that a course of this age can still test even the low handicappers I played with.
I AM NEW INTO THE WORLD OF 'HEATHLAND ' COURSES ( SUNNINGDALE, ST GEORGE'S HILL ) BUT I HAVE TO SAY THAT THIS RUNS SUNNINGDALE VERY CLOSE TO THE TOP SPOT IN MY FIELD OF THREE. AN EXCELLENT LAYOUT, WITH NO TWO HOLES EVEN REMOTELY SIMILAR.....POTENTIAL CARD-WRECKER ON EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM AS WELL, MINE BEING THE PAR 3 ( S/INDEX 18 ) THAT SOMEONE ELSE MENTIONED ON THIS PAGE. IT AMAZES ME THAT SOMEONE COULD DESIGN A COURSE THAT CAN STILL STAND THE TEST OF TIME OVER 100 YRS AFTER IT WAS CREATED. THE GREENS RAN VERY TRUE BUT WERE STIMPED UP TO THE HILT WITH THE RECENT DRY WEATHER. MY ONLY TWO GRIPES WITH THE COURSE IS THAT THE STROKE INDEXES NEED ADDRESSING; CANNOT UNDERSTAND HOW A 245 YD PAR THREE IS S/I 6. ALSO THE PAR 5 12th ( OR 13th? ) IS AN UNFAIR HOLE AND NEEDS ADDRESSING. I CUT A GOOD DRIVE ONTO THE FAIRWAY AND IT RAN DOWN INTO THE ROUGH. BEING NEARLY 600 YDS LONG, IT WAS DIFFICULT TO PAR AND VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO BIRDIE AFTER HACKING OUT OF THE ROUGH FOR MY SECOND SHOT. APART FROM THAT, AN EXCEPTIONAL COURSE WITH A SPECIAL MENTION TO DOUG ( RAF SECRETARY ) WHO ENSURED OUR DAY OUT WENT BY WITH NO PROBLEMS.
I am a big fan of heathland courses, such as Sunningdale, Walton Heath, Berkshire, Woking, etc. I had been wanting to play Royal Ashdown for many years and when I did last month I was not dissappointed. The charm of the course is greater than that of the ones listed above. Perhaps its the relatively short length, occasional blind shots, and lack of any sand bunkers, but certainly the peace and quiet, scenery and mostly short walks between green and next tee make this a very special place. With modest length and no sand bunkers, it still manages to provide a very difficult challenge. The short 6th hole looks innocent enough, but anywhere left (water) or right (down a swale with a pitch back towards the water) make this tiny par 3 a very real potential for danger. Saying it is a short course is also not exactly correct. The 245 yard par 3 11th and 460+ yard par 4 17th (with a blind tee shot) come to mind (these are the standard mens tees!). While these are long, they do play fair and downhill. 17th in particular is a stunning hole. One downside when I played was the state of the greens. They were not up to the standard you would expect from such a name, however I was delighted to have the greenskeeper pull up while we were putting on the 16th to come and inspect the greens. He said the greens are nowhere near where they should be. I was glad to see they were concerned and doing something about it. I would reccomend calling ahead before you go to inquire about the condition of the greens. Even so, this course is a must play. My friend and I finished our round, went into the clubhouse and sat down for a drink on the upper terrace, looking out over the 1st and 18th holes. We decided we had to do it again sometime. And 5 minutes later we were back on the first tee for a late 18! Absolutely a fabulous place.
This has a big reputation, as one of Golf World's top 100 courses, and it didn't disappoint. Having negotiated the slightly intimidating clubhouse and members, it was a relief to find an easy short par 4 as the first hole. But after the first few holes, the course gets distinctly harder, characterised by many carries of 150 yards plus over heather and gorse from the yellow tees; more heather and gorse lining fairways and protecting greens; some streams; and many sloping greens. The par 3s are outstanding and extremely difficult. This is definitely not a course for high handicappers, and even mid handicappers will struggle if they are not fully on their game. But if you are playing well, it's great fun. And of course there's the stunning scenery. The quality of the greens was poor on the day we played (May 2001), but hopefully this was a result of the appalling winter and spring we've just had.
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