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.
Date: October 31, 2018