Having had the chance to play Fairhaven half a dozen times in the last few years means I've seen it differently, from bone dry and running forever to the latest time, after an unseasonably wet period. Still, the course enthrals.
The recent excellent club house refurb has brought the locker rooms into the modern era, alongside the downstairs spike bar. Upstairs, things are more traditional offering great views of the course.
Fans of James Braid designs will love Fairhaven. The bunkering especially tests ones metal. Reachable fairway bunkers are (mostly) exceedingly penal. You can get out, but the high lips mean advancing the ball any distance is a real challenge. Greenside bunkers gather anything wayward, testing your short game if you are going to get par.
The course loses 1/2 a point for me with the 13th and 14th holes, later additions to the course and on very different soil bases. These two (albeit good) parkland holes just don't sit well against the other 16 sand based links holes, sticking out like sore thumbs.
Once those two are out of the way though, what a finish? Index 1, a tight par 5 followed by index 3 and (unreachable) par 4, both with OB all the way down the right hand side. The 17th is a delightful short par 3 surrounded by small but deep bunkers, and the par 5 finish with a slight dogleg left and a fairway 10 yards across at its narrowest, just in driving distance for the longer hitters.
The greens weren't as quick as they sometimes are on this visit, but subtle borrows ensure you need to be able to read them well. I am led to believe a change of head greenkeeper is imminent, so it will be interesting to see what a new set of eyes, and a new bunch of ideas can be brought to bear on an already very good course.
Date: September 16, 2020