Driving two hours to play a modern parkland resort course would never be top of my list when choosing a day's golf so with my expectation levels kept in check I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with this typically big and bold Dave Thomas design. There's an unexpected mature feel throughout the routing with numerous impressive tree specimens and historical water features (previously introduced by Capability Brown) often coming into play. My biggest disappointment was undoubtedly the collection of par 3's which really do need spicing up a bit as none of them are particularly memorable, however the longer holes offer up some excellent golf on an undulating and interesting parcel of land.
Following a solid opening par-5 we get our first taste of the rolling terrain at the 2nd, an attractive downhiller which skirts woodland as it doglegs to the right. The 6th is a memorable par-5, again shaped around trees, then past an old water feature to an attractively situated green and the 7th follows the pattern of well designed doglegs this time turning left with a troublesome bunker at driving distance. All very good.
The pick of the back nine would include the back to back par-5's at 12 and 13 which are both interesting holes, the 16th, a cleverly bunkered par-4 and the picturesque 17th with its narrowing tree lined approach to a tricky green. A few hikes from green to tee would be a minor gripe and switching the two nines around some years ago means that the original 18th, quite an exciting hole involving water, has been replaced with the fairly mundane original 9th as the finishing hole.
Bowood definitely rewards and encourages the use of the driver and with no shortage of length and heavy fairway bunkering it provides a tough test for even the most skilled of players.
Date: August 19, 2017