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.”
On our 4 course tour of some of England’s finest golf courses in Cheshire and Derbyshire we saved the best to last, but were greeted at Delamere Forest by leaden skies, high winds and heavy rainfall. So gusty were the winds that I was one of two in our Fourball that had his umbrella snapped off from its connection to the trolley on just the second hole. But fortunately the rain became lighter, the winds lessened and the rest of the round was played in testing but by no means impossible conditions.
And Delamere Forest delivered. We first set eyes on the glorious panorama of the course from the Clubhouse before we ventured out, and immediately noticed its open almost moorland nature with a strange absence of trees. But a massive golfing treat awaited, and we all completed this golfing experience understanding why the course is second in Cheshire only to the Open Championship venue at nearby Royal Liverpool. The emphasis is on a clear, positional and strategic approach and clean, accurate hitting. Course maintenance was flawless.
The variety of tests posed by the course are a pure joy. After our difficult start, the unusual challenges of Delamere are almost intoxicating as the fast running fairways demonstrate that a course doesn’t need to be just for big hitters to be outstanding. We played from the yellow tees from which the course has a par of 72 measuring just 6100 yards, although it seems longer with the many upward and downward slopes. None of the 4 par 5s are more than 500 yards long, and unusually two are less than 450 yards, but none of our Fourball threatened one of these four greens in two hits.
The feeling of space in this ‘Forest’ with so few trees is awesome, as is its quiet exclusive feel as we played ‘millionaire’s golf’. All the holes are good although I found the highly rated short 6th far too good for me, as after hitting the front of the green exactly as planned with my 8 iron tee shot, I watched with horror as it rolled off the back, leaving me with a tough chip shot to a tricky target which my short game failed woefully to accomplish successfully.
The stretch from holes 9 to 16 are quite special, with my sumptuous drive at 9 to the left hand side of a large plateau before a thinned wedge across a big dip in the landscape to a large green with the pin on the front edge a reminder of how fortunes can fluctuate in the game, just in two consecutive shots. A frankly ludicrous putt across the green from 25 yards then followed and I walked off the green with a birdie three and all was right with the world.
Further short par 4s follow at 10 and 13, one uphill and the other flat but with many bunkers, and these holes are interspersed by a magnificent par 5 through a valley and then down the other side and par 3 at 12 that was every bit as fiendish as the aforementioned 6th. The fact that 6 and 12 were the two holes I failed to score on and they are by some way the shortest on the course tells it’s own story.
And then came the 14th, the most scenic hole on the course with a lovely downhill approach to a green surrounded by bunkers and 15 with a frightening drive over a hill with far more space beyond than it seems from the tee. The pitch shot to this green looks so easy but the need for pinpoint accuracy and control of length found us all out.
The par 3 16th with its semi blind tee shot, was followed by a similarly difficult tee shot at 17, before the majestic rolling 18th provided a suitable climax for our round. And heavy rain returned just as we were playing our final hole, perhaps the elements were smiling on us.
Delamere Forest has so many memorable holes and is located in a fabulous setting, that it is simply a grand place to play the game.
"Watch out for the ninth. It has big dips in front of the green and beyond and I watched two scratch golfers make a mess of it on YouTube."
Fortunately, having come to grief on the aforementioned hole on a previous visit to Delamere Forest, I took the advice I was giving to my fellow tournament competitors, took an extra club and made par.
What a pity I didn't pay such keen attention on the rest of the holes because I slunk away having played one of my worst rounds of the year.
This beautiful Cheshire course is deceptive. There isn't much heather and the fairways seem wide. But I can testify that a lack of precision around the greens can be very costly.
As said, it wasn't as if the course was new to me. Intriguingly, I wasn't caught out by the more memorable ones - my best were the downhill third which offers great views of Cheshire and the spectacular 14th which winds down into the furthest corner of the course to a green, protected at front and sides by bunkers.
However, blobs came aplenty elsewhere.
I didn't cope with the doglegs - coming to grief on the 8th and 18th despite tee-shots which had put me in strong positions.
This was down to finding way too much sand.
There is many a slant at Delamere Forest which feed the ball into bunkers and by the end of my round I felt as if I was playing more often on sand than on grass.
And when I did finally hit the green, I found their twists and turns too subtle. The number of times I edged the hole had me frothing with frustration.
Despite my abysmal return, I felt that a good score could have been achieved at Delamere Forest but not if it is taken lightly. I did my homework but I wasn't as precise as I should have been.
However, my wretched final score did not prevent me from recognising, once again, that this is a special course.
I can't comment on the hospitality because Covid regulations meant we weren't allowed into the clubhouse. A shame because it looked most inviting from outside.
Delamere Forest is a superb golf course and along with Royal Liverpool I am certain that you have the top two courses in Cheshire here. A different type of course to its links counterpart, comparisons have been drawn between Yorkshire's Ganton and Delamere and I believe that this is fair. Sandy turf is the order of the day with bunkers aplenty, interesting tumbling fairways and a premium placed on course strategy. Framed by wild grasses, gorse and solitary pines, the course as manicured to perfection and the definition between fairway, semi and rough was clear. On my visit I played the back nine first starting with the tenth hole, but this didn't skew my perception of the course one bit - indeed the 9th hole would provide any course with a strong closing 18th hole. Highlights for me were the 14th and 15th holes (my 5th and 6th) and the 17th and 18th (my 8th and 9th). The 14th and 15th are two lovely short par 4's with sloping fairways framed by heather, and greens set below tall pines; and the 17th and 18th are a strong, long par 4 and par 5 to finish your round. The old fashioned clubhouse provides an excellent backdrop to the closing holes and it is an excellent spot to soak in the panoramic views back up the course - a day at Delamere Forest is like stepping back of time and traditional in every sense of the word; the course is fully deserving of its spot in the British and Irish elite.
I'm an 9 handicapper and I played Delamere towards the end of winter 2020. Frosty sunny morning. I have to say, this is a superb course. A true pleasure to play and probably the best inland course i've played. It was immaculate, especially considering the amount of rain in the previous weeks. You just feel like you're at peace with just you and golf playing here. The members were friendly and I look forward to returning. Fantastic course.
Delamere Forest was one of my golfing highlights of 2019. I teed it up here immediately after the club’s hosting of the Women’s County Finals in September and the course was polished to absolute perfection.
Tom Doak drew an interesting parallel, suggesting Delamere is North West England’s version of the North East’s Ganton. It’s an astute comparison as both have sand to spare underfoot and both are laid out on a grand scale. In my opinion Delamere has more exciting topography than Ganton, but Ganton has better green complexes.
There’s a real sense of stepping back in time at Delamere, where tradition is front and centre. The on course architecture follows a similar pattern to the club itself, there’s nothing brash, just delightful understated elegance. Delamere is right up my street, it has everything I like in a golf course.
The tumbling ground is perfect and the thrills and spills build as the round progresses through a fascinating routing of twists and turns up and down the heathery valleys.
I don’t know why Delamere has never been listed in our Britain & Ireland Top 100 before now. The club’s heartland location, off the beaten tourist trail, maybe a contributing factor. I’m sure if this course were set anywhere near the heathlands of London it would be a completely different story.
Tremendous layout with absurdly quick greens in summertime. Some very good holes.
A quote that I usually like to go by is that any course with forest in its name is usually a good course and although i’m sure someone can prove me wrong with this, Delamere forest is nothing short of exceptional! I was not expecting a lot from this course and from the photos I was quite surprised by its ranking, but having played it now i’m surprised how it’s not higher. As soon as we got through the gates and the course was in view, I could tell it was fantastic and manicured to perfection. The design itself is fantastic and many of the views you get are awesome. The fairways are well maintained and the bunkers are well laid out. The only negative I would say is that the greens were quite slow, however they still rolled very well.
One thing which I loved about Delamere Forest was the rough as it really added character to the course, however it was so long that anything in the rough was practically dead! Right from the start you’re met with a long par 4 which measures nearly 500 yards off the blues and me being me, I decided to play off the tips (which i suffered from very much). However after that you’re met with a par 5 which is the same length. The 2nd hole is beautifully designed with the green just in front of a large cluster of trees adding plenty of character to the hole. The 6th hole is a beautiful par 3 played from an elevated tee and possibly one of my favourites. The back nine was definitely my favourite of the 2 nines with every hole being a standout hole. Holes 14 and 15 were particularly strong as tactics were required off the tee with a tight fairway to hit and the 2nd shot going into the green with the forest in the background.
I really loved my round at Delamere forest as it was definitely a challenging course and one that you didn’t simply knock driver off every hole. When we had a chat with the club professional there he told me that an American had played the course earlier on in the year and compared it to Shinnecock. Obviously it’s not quite the standard of the Legendary Shinnecock Hills but it truly was a great course and I will definitely look to return there in the future hopefully when the rough is a bit more forgiving!
This is a class heathland course. The name Forest is a misnomer although it is set with Delamere Forest adjacent. I played in an Open last September and on a sunny yet frosty morning teed off up the 1st into blinding sunshine. I thought the design of the course was glorious with some wonderful shaped holes, large greens, quality par 3s. My favourite holes of which there were many were 3 (a short downhill par 4), 4 a long par 3 uphill to which I took driver, holes 6 and 16 which cross over, both par 3s, 10, an uphill tee from back by the clubhouse, and then the stretch 14 to 16, with the short par 4 15th presenting a lot tougher challenge than it appeared from 50 yards from the green. Being below the pin would have been ideal on fast greens! A superb view back down the 18th off the tee and a chance to finish the round on a high.
We played off the yellows and finished 4th on count back from a very large field so i appreciate that my memory of this course could be enhanced because we played well. That said, this is a fabulous track and i for one will return. As heathland courses go this is one of the best and for my money cannot be far outside a Top 100 Uk rating.
Book yourself in an Open AmAm and experience this magnificent course for yourself at a fraction of the normal visitor fee.
Worthy of a day out
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.