Situated close to the old market town of Altrincham, the 18-hole course at Dunham Forest Golf & Country Club enjoys a woodland setting that was once part of the Earl of Stamford’s estate.
The US Army used the land on which John Beasley laid out the original 9-hole course as an Italian prisoner of war camp. The course opened in 1961 and Alex Hay became the first Dunham Forest professional. The layout was extended to 18 holes during the 1960s when further land became available.
Dave Thomas replaced Alex Hay as club pro around the time Thomas had finished runner-up to Jack Nicklaus in the 1966 Open Championship at Muirfield. Thomas is largely responsible for the Dunham Forest course that's in play today and he was subsequently made an honorary club member.
Played today on a bright and sunny afternoon, but following heavy rain over last few days. Delighted that we were on 12 full greens. That says something about the course, which drains well. Granted it was rather wet in places so finding a dry lie at times was difficult.
I have read Ed’s previous review and would concur that Dunham Forest has an attractively routed start, a rather bland parkland middle section and then a good finish, back amongst the towering trees.
The course plays pretty open, helped by the time of year when there are no leaves on the trees to narrow your view of each hole.
As it is Winter they had closed the 2nd hole (although you still walk down it!) and have an additional par 3, sanctioned between 15 and 16, called 15A. Personally I cannot see the point of closing just one hole, unless of course they rest different holes in rotation. Another annoyance was the scorecard. It’s a Winter card so hole 3 is omitted and 15A included. Yet, we played hole 3 (missing out hole 2 as mentioned above) so it then became confusing when marking your card, well at least for a while.
The course also meanders around a bit, and sign posting could be better. Moan over. For now.
The course starts promisingly with a gentle par 5 opener, the 1st of 4 on the course. Plenty of room for your drive and a green that is over a hill, but easily reachable in 3 shots. We couldn’t play the 2nd but the 3rd is short par, the 1st of 5 (given 15A), The 4th then takes you back to the clubhouse, before you cross behind the 1st to get to the 5th. The 5th is the pick of the front 6 in my opinion, a lovely looking hole with a sweeping right to left towards a well positioned green. And a lot of the holes do sweep gently either left or right, little is laid out directly in front of you. And with the trees framing the holes, when in bloom I would imagine the course will look pretty striking.
The next set of 6 holes (7-12) play more flat and are rather bland with exception of the par 3 8th, which at 158 yards, playing downwind was a pretty par 3, and the 9th which again sweeps right to left but again has good bunkering and a green that slopes back to front.
The course picks up again after the 12th, an uphill sweeping par 4 , with the 13th which is the pick of the par 3’s. At 192 yards a long par 3, but slightly downhill onto a large green with gentle back to front slope which receives the ball well.
The 14th plays alongside the covered reservoir. The reservoir visually spoils the hole with it’s railings and concrete. A shame as the 14th green complex is exceptional - a severe back to front slope that in Summer must be very tricky if leaving your ball above the hole.
The 15th is a par 3 played to a green on the side of the reservoir. At 205 yards, the longest par 3 and into a breeze. I took driver, walked off with a par - was happy with that.
15A is another par 3, which you play from the top of the reservoir onto a quality green roughly 150 yards away and below. With bunkers either side and a narrow green, and with a strong wind blowing, play over the trees and allow the ball to drift in the breeze towards the green. A par is a good result
I didn’t like the 16 tee position. You tee off across the reservoir top which is requires 200 yard carry. Found it strange. Once down the other side of the reservoir, the hole carries on as normal with trees once again surrounding the hole and green.
The 17th and 18th are good finishing par 4’s. The 17th a 422 yard par 4 to a green which again slopes back to front. Bit of work going on behind the green, but an attractive looking hole.
And the 18th to the clubhouse. Open fairway and a 2nd to a long and wide, rather flat green.
A very enjoyable round and one I would visit again when all the trees are out in bloom and the fairways running quick and the greens faster.
Nice clubhouse and friendly staff and a discounted rate of £25 given the few temps and the value for money was excellent. Overall the course pleases, having nice routing on the whole, but with little in the way of standout holes. On basis I would come back I have rated 3 1/2.
Good course through the trees with some good tough holes.
A quick afternoon dash around Dunham Forest in mid-March, following a meeting in Manchester earlier in the day, provided a very enjoyable couple of hours. In summary; the course makes a more than promising start, loses its way a little during the middle part of the round and then recovers well for a fine finish.
There is a certain tightness to the opening holes at Dunham Forest with all of them tree-lined to some extent of the other; the second, fourth and sixth being particularly narrow in places. It works really well here and coupled with excellent green sites the opening stretch is very impressive and has a lovely secluded feel to it. I particularly enjoyed the approach shots to these early holes, all offering something different and their own unique challenge.
It’s actually very easy to split Dunham Forest up into three thirds. The first six holes wend their way through beautiful, mature woodland with delightfully undulating terrain. The next third of the course is on the lower part of the property and is positively parkland in comparison to the opening stretch. There’s a short par three at the end of the flatness that is perhaps the pick of the bunch where a false fronted green and a couple of potentially tight pin positions add interest. The green complex at the 11th, one of four par fives, also has a bit more going on than the rest of this part of the course.
For the final third you return to the more secluded part of the course and play a number of strong holes. The downhill par three 13th is a nice tee-shot whilst the green setting at the next is exceptional. The shelf green at the 14th is perhaps a tad severe when played from its maximum yardage of 205 yards but is fascinating none-the-less. And then you have three impressive two-shotters to end your round; the 16th interestingly plays over an underground reservoir.
If the entire course lived up to the very high standard of the opening and closing thirds Dunham Forest would be one of my personal favourites in the North-West. As it is, the middle section means that it just stays behind the likes of Delamere Forest, Sandiway, Prestbury and Wilmslow. Well worth a visit though.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Dunham is a lovely woodland course and a pleasure to play. It prides itself on great greens, gorgeous tree lined grounds and being playable all year round. Over the winter when many courses in the region are on temporaries or mats on fairways Dunham remains playable and fully open. The worst hole has to be from the 16th tee above the reservoir, but once you get back down again you're back into the National Trust grounds surrounded by trees. Really lovely track which I recommend playing.