The Delamere Forest Golf Club originated in 1910 when eleven local business men got together informally and agreed on forming a golf club in the ancient hunting grounds known as Delamere Forest. The land was underwater during prehistoric times, making for a sandy foundation that allows for year-round golfing. Even after a heavy downpour, the greens still play like they haven’t seen rain in weeks.
The renowned golf course architect Herbert Fowler designed the original course and today it still has a fine collection of challenging par fives, short and difficult par fours as well as some long and testing par threes. This ‘hidden gem’ is certain to test your game.
The shortest hole, the 6th, is arguably one of the most challenging. Accuracy is everything, should you find yourself either side of the green you face an arduous chip to get yourself back on track. It’s a hole that has been known to strike angst into even the most experienced golfer – Lord Hawke, captain back in the ‘50s even had an alternative tee constructed in the trees, now known as Hawke’s Folly.
Off-course facilities take place in a redesigned 'Cheshire Black and White' style building, originally designed by the founding member Alfred Powles. Powles was a prominent architect who took a fancy to the designs and architecture of the surrounding area. Facilities include a new visitor's locker room, member's lounge, improved formal dining room, refurbished member's locker rooms, casual lounge, and a new Professional's shop. Sitting in the casual lounge after a day of golf will offer fantastic views over the course and the stunning Cheshire countryside.
Only four golf professionals have been employed at Delamere Golf Club since its inauguration. The original golf pro, renowned James Arundel, had a strong Scottish golfing background and provided professional services for 35 years. The last golf pro to be hired, Martin Brown, has been a qualified PGA Professional since 1990. He is currently a Level 3 Coach and Class AAT PGA Member.
James kindly contributed the above article.
John Mulder, former Hon Secretary of Delamere Forest Golf Club, contributed the following article:
Despite the word 'Forest' in its title, Delamere is a natural heathland course. Certainly, trees are part of the strategy on several holes, but, in general, Delamere Forest provides a glorious backdrop to the panoramic views from the higher parts of the course.
Fowler had no qualms about asking the golfer to undertake a number of blind drives, carrying some considerable distances and enjoying the healthy exercise of hill climbing. Overall, there is much variety in hole lengths and every kind of shot will be called for, but the opening five holes really stretch the average player.
There are many holes with character, for example the 5th, with a long uphill carry to the green with a pond to the left and below the green and the need to hold the shot up to that side. The 6th is a short hole from an elevated tee to a small green set at an angle to the tee with enticing views over the pond below the green to the left, with woods and fields in all directions. The 8th requires a long straight tee shot to find a narrow fairway to give a long iron shot to a steeply sloping green. This hole was reached from the medal tee in the 1970s by one of our past members, Mr George Johnson. The 15th hole is a dogleg left with a blind drive over a hill and an out of bounds in the Forest on the left. The raised plateau green is situated in a delightful dell with a bell to be rung to tell those behind that the coast is clear, with the finishing hole having a rough patch of reeds just short of the green.
The course leaves and returns to the clubhouse twice and players cross at the 6th and 16th tees.
In 2018, the club celebrated the conclusion of a six-year programme to restore its historic heathland course back to the original 1910 design intent.
Under the guidance of architect Tom Mackenzie, every bunker was returned to its Herbert Fowler design and greens were enlarged to provide new pin placement options and run-off areas.
Officially opened in 1912 with a challenge match featuring James Braid, Ted Ray, Sandy Herd and James Arundel, the course was more than ready for this upgrade a century later. Alterations also included the addition of eight new tees to challenge better players and the lengthening of the 18th hole.
Men’s Captain Steve Lamb commented: “It’s been a long process of change for the club, but the outcome has been well worth the wait and all of the members are proud to show visitors just how well the course plays and how good it looks.
Delamere Forest has always had a strong reputation as
a quality course with great turf and superb greens. Now we believe that
reputation will be enhanced with the changes that we’ve made under the
direction of one of the world’s most respected course architects.”
A top 100 heathland course is always something to be looked forward to and this was enhanced by a very warm welcome and a course that looked very apetising from the clubhouse. The course was in good condition, and although greens were very good they were a tad on the slow side. In June 2019 the rough was very long and penal and there seemed to be more long grass than heather; in fairness fairways were quite generous therefore it was not too often that one had to look for balls.
Playing in a Men's open competition it was a bit disappointing to be playing off yellow tees which probably affects my view of the course. I'm sure some of the holes would have been better from the 'green tees' as it mean't some of the fairway bunkering didn't come into play off the tee; some of the par 5's were stupidly short and some of the stroke indexes odd (for example the par 4 15th was only 291 yards long with a stroke index of 3). Very few difficult tee shots and it was a shame we couldn't play hole 18 off the 'green tee' as the tee shot over some tall conifers would in itself have made it a much better hole.
Delamere Forest is a very undulating open course, and I thought the course design made good use of these undulations so that holes were not repetitive (unlike for example Harborne). I felt the holes were good without being exceptional (certainly no wow factor); looks wise it reminded somewhat of Woodhall Spa (apart from the hills) without the same variety and interest of holes. Pick of the holes for me were the short downhill par 3 6th and the short par 4 9th requiring a drive to a plateau and then a wedge across a deep gully. Favourite hole would be the 14th a par 4 of 366 yards requiring an accurate drive to the narrowest fairway on the course followed by a short iron downhill to a nice looking green
I do like Herbert Fowler courses but of those I have played I thought Delamere fell someway below Saunton East, Beau Desert and The Berkshire's, so for me a little high in the rankings and there are a few other courses that probably merit top 100 inclusion ahead of it.
The title Delamere Forest is something of an arboreal misnomer because you can’t classify it as a woodland course. Instead, it’s a wonderful old heathland design that’s laid out on a large, rolling property with lots of interesting elevation changes.
I thought the greens were big – I’ve since found out they’ve been extended of late to allow for more pin placements – and they’re reasonably contoured, which would tell me they’re just as original architect Herbert Fowler designed them a hundred years ago.
The bunker work that’s been carried out over the last few years is quite remarkable (82 restyled, reconstructed or repositioned, 15 removed and 15 added) so the club’s green keeping staff must be commended for the brilliant execution of architect Tom Mackenzie’s plans.
I loved the fact that the yellow tees measured an eminently sensible 6,101 yards for regular gents play – only three of the ten par fours on the card are greater than 400 yards and all of these longer holes appear on the more difficult front nine.
Fairway cross bunkers abound (as at 3rd, 7th and 13th) and the big dips fronting some of the greens (like the 1st, 5th and 9th) have to be seen to be believed. Throw in a few blind shots (such as the tee shots on the 14th and 15th) and you have yourself a fine old-fashioned golfing recipe.
There’s great variety with the par threes – though I think the uphill 4th and drop shot 6th are comfortably superior to the two short holes on the back nine – and I thought the recent makeover of the really quirky short par four 15th has turned this into a terrific little hole.
The run from the 3rd to the 6th on the outward half and from the 14th to 16th on the inward half were the best sequence of holes for me, though the combination of an elevated tee position, rumpled fairway and volcano green made the 9th hole my favourite overall.
I know Delamere Forest is a highly ranked golf course (currently 2nd in Cheshire, 9th in the North West region and 46th in England) but I still didn’t expect it to be as quite as good as it was after finally getting round to visiting it the other day.
What a wonderful course. This is proper open heathland golf and a really interesting, challenging and fun course. The course has lots of elevation changes and and I needed every club in the bag to plot my way round. I played 4 rounds in 2 days and left wanting more. The greens are in excellent condition. The turf is superb, although the fairways were suffering after hottest summer for 40 years - no matter, they were perfectly playable. It's worth making a special trip to play Delamere Forest.
Delamere Forest must go down as one of the biggest surprises for me, and a very pleasant one at that. Living less than an hour and half away from this Cheshire course I had heard it was impressive but I was unprepared for just how good it actually is.
Competing in their Men’s Pairs Open I discovered a challenging, fast running layout with an ever increasing heathland feel to it and wonderful rolling terrain. There’s a real natural appearance to the course with lots of width, bags of character and the sandy fairways were an absolute joy to play from. This is my type of inland golf.
The rough had also been cut back so the course was infinitely playable with bags of strategy although I can imagine much straighter hitting is required during the summer months.
The two nines at Delamere both start and finish close to the wonderful ‘black and white’ clubhouse but are relatively contrasting in style. The front side is the stronger in my opinion although the inward half may be the more memorable and exciting for others.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised how much I liked Delamere Forest upon learning that it was Herbert Fowler who laid out the course. I’ve played a number of layouts designed by Fowler and very rarely walk away disappointed.
Most of the bunkering looked to have recently had a makeover and the greens were amazing for early October; quick and true with lots of roll out.
Away from the course is exceptional too. There’s no doubt that this is a traditional club but it appears to be meeting the modern day demands of golf well and an hour quickly went by in the comfortable clubhouse that has a view of at least four holes from the window. The food was also top notch.
It had taken me over 20 golfing years to play Delamere Forest but I can assure you it won’t be another two decades before I return. I’ll be surprised if it’s more than two years.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
What an awesome course Delamere is, and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. It's surprisingly open / very generous to the odd wild tee shot, yet retains very much a strategic course design, with some beautiful holes. I'd say the 18th hole is my favourite - elevated tee, beautiful views back towards the club house, huge upturned saucer of a green - love it. The course is always in great condition - making it a superb course for a winter round. It'll take any amount of rain thrown at it. This course and Sandiway (just nearby) are the best to be found in Cheshire. Sandiway just edges it for the sheer variation in holes in my opinion, but I still can't speak more highly of Delamere and urge you to visit it
This gem of a heathland course tucked away in the heart of Cheshire is a joy to play all year round. Another Herbert Fowler classic designed over 100 years ago, the course is well routed with some fine changes in elevation. Undulating enough to be described as rolling maybe, but without ever feeling hilly. Two days before our visit we had experienced rainfall of biblical proportions and yet the fairways and greens had drained perfectly, the greens being in excellent condition for the time of year.
The pars 4’s are well varied in length and will test both your course management and club selection to the full. The picturesque 14th, classically designed 8th and demanding 5th being my favourites. You can be left with a very tricky put on all of the par 3’s but getting on-board in the first place is no easy task. The 4th and 16th are both around the 200 yard mark, and the 6th is an inviting downhill shot to a small green surrounded by bunkers and a pond to the left. None of the par 5’s are particularly long but have plenty of character, the 18th being my favourite, driving from a raised tee over the corner of a wood which runs the full length of the hole.
Although relatively short by today’s standards the club have employed course architects Mackenzie & Ebert to redesign many of the bunkers and to extend some of the Championship tees. This will stretch the course to around 6600 yards for big events helping to combat continuing advances in technology. A traditional club with a relatively small membership, Delamere always seems to have a welcoming feel to the place. Brian W