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.
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.