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.
Date: May 23, 2021