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.”
The golf course is friendly with ample room off the tee, some holes were lined with trees while others were framed in by long fescue, but always there were openings out to the surrounding landscape beyond. The rolling land, views into the surrounding hill and copses of wonderful spruce and oak made this a beautiful English Landscape that Capability Brown would have been impressed with. The opening set of long par fours are brilliant. They were part of the changes made by Fowler when he returned to expand the course in the 1920’s. All the fours on the front are challenging since each makes perfect use of the terrain and asks for a different approach from the other ones. The threes are also tough and excellent and it’s only the breather offered by a simpler five that prevents this from being one of the best nines in golf, it’s that good!
The nines turned out to be contrast. The front is big, strong and rock solid whereas the back nine is much shorter and more quirky. There were some really cool shorter holes like the cross-sloped 13th and the downhill 14th, but the quirkiest and perhaps coolest hole of all was the short 15th played to a very Mackenzie like 15th elevated green. Perhaps the best hole may have been the 16th which involved a long par three played into a bowl where the player can either fly or feed the ball into the green. The back nine has more options and more opportunity which is a nice way to finish. The golf course was full of excellent lessons in design. I’m quite interested in all the greens that are set “into” the land rather than placed “onto” a promontory. Fowler used this at a number of the courses we saw over the week. It’s not as flashy an approach, but does lend a certain subtle charm that is rare in golf there days. I liked his routing because he so clearly emphasized the land as the strategy. I liked an unusual move with some bunkering where he placed the emphasis on the contour of the landing at a corner rather than making the bunkers the strategy by moving them to the inside. This is not the modern target bunker, but a much more interesting style of creating a parallel line that I thought was a cool concept worth looking at.
Delamere is exactly the course I would like to join. They have a friendly membership that plays fast. The golf course is a pleasure to play, but will still test your game. It’s simply a beautiful place that has everything you could possibly want and great golf too. I feel very fortunate to have played there.
Delamere is such a delight to play. From the moment you turn into the drive you lose yourself in the tranquillity of the place, that is if you find the place to start with! Sentiments echo that if you picked the course up and placed it in the Surrey / Berkshire sand belt then Delamere would not be out of place.
Much has changed recently mainly to the clubhouse facility. The new pro shop and visiting changing room are most impressive and blend seamlessly into existing traditional Cheshire clubhouse, a facility to match the wonderful course. The club is instigating a programme to retain the “Heathland Feel” or “Our Heathland Gem” as the club call it. You’ve only got to look at heathland programmes undertaken at Walton Heath and Worplesdon to understand the merits of protecting this delightful style of course.
I so enjoy playing here and with the removal of silver birch and the re-generation of heather and gorse it is only going to make golfing here even more enjoyable. For years Delamere was known as a hidden gem, well if you haven’t found the place in the clubs first 100 years, (Delamere celebrates their Centenary this year) then make the effort.