Ferndown Golf Club is a pine and heathery heaven, set in pleasing manicured countryside a mile or two north of the popular seaside town of Bournemouth. This is where Peter Alliss learnt his trade, for his father, Percy, was the professional here for more than a quarter of a century.
The club was founded in 1912 and Harold Hilton, one of the finest amateur golfers of all time, designed the course. It opened for play in 1914. Hilton won the British Open championship as an amateur twice, a feat only surpassed by Bobby Jones, who was British Open champion on three occasions, also as an amateur.
The Old course at Ferndown Golf Club plays across a sandy outcrop of land where there is a proliferation of heather and pines. It’s an inherently pretty golf course and sometimes Ferndown is bracketed alongside Augusta because of its immaculate tee to green grooming. The hazards at Ferndown are subtle – there are the obvious heather and trees to avoid, but the bunkers are especially well designed and positioned. Steep-lipped sand traps are invariably visible from the tees and the fairways and they certainly concentrate the mind. Many of the holes are dog-legged in shape and tee shot position is critical, rather than sheer length. Ferndown is a course where scoring well depends entirely on whether or not the ball is kept in play.
By today’s standards, the course is fairly short, measuring less than 6,500 yards from the medal tees, but the heathland layout will challenge the very best golfers and will enthral the average handicapper with its inherent beauty. Many important amateur and professional events have been contested over the Old course. In 1989, Ferndown hosted the Women’s British Open. Jane Geddes carded a 67 on the first two days and dominated the tournament from thereon in.
We played at Ferndown in May and very much enjoyed it.
The view from the clubhouse and first tee is impressive and had us excited about the round ahead.
The course was immaculately presented with the greens, fairways and bunkers all maintained to a high standard. While not overly difficult it still demands your attention with dog legs and a strong set of fairway and greenside bunkers. That being said, there is definitely a score to be had if playing well. My favourite holes were 1, 4, 7 and 16.
If there were any weaknesses I'd say the par 3s lacked a bit of variety but all in all it made for a very enjoyable round and well worth the £70 green fee.
Ferndown was a classic example of a course beating expectations. Based on reviews I had read beforehand, rankings and not the least the visuals available here and elsewhere, I had it as a clear no 3 after Parkstone/Broadstone and it ended up a notch above both of them in my esteem.
Make no mistake, Parkstone and Broadstone are more scenic courses occupying more dramatic sites, but I am not sure that all the changes in elevation at those courses work in their favour compared to the more understated Ferndown.
Also, I am sure that if I played Broadstone and Parkstone again with greens as true as they were at Ferndown the verdict would perhaps have been closer. Other reviews gave me no indication this was the normal state of affairs. If it is, I think Ferndown should perhaps be ranked higher than it is.
I liked Ferndown, despite the fact that holes 7 and 8 were not really my cup of tea. I mean, I have nothing against reachable par 5s and ditto par 4s, but if this means that their design present safety concerns (and I think they do: someone going for the 7th green could easily hit people on the 8th tee box and anyone moving to/from 9th tee and the halfway house is at risk from an attempt to hit the 8th green)
This gripe aside, I think the lows at Ferndown were fewer and recommend you to include it on your itinerary if you have Bournemouth in your sights, perhaps even at the expense of one of the other two tracks.
Despite all the previous glowing reviews, Ferndown simply didn't get my juices flowing. True, the greeting by the straw boater wearing member was exemplary and also that of the starter, and the conditioning and manicuring from tee to green throughout the course was 2nd to none, but after playing Broadstone and Remedy Oak in the preceding 2 days, this course just didn't, in my opinion, match up to them. And yet is ranked higher than Remedy Oak.
On the recently revised rankings, there are courses such as Beau Desert and Lindrick, which jump out as better design, more challenging and just as in as good condition, so this high ranking for Ferndown surprises me.
That's not saying this isn't a good course - it is. The busyness of the course in terms of crowding greens and tees together is highlighted as you finish putting out on the 3rd. There is the 4th tee in touching distance and directly on the other side of the 4th tee, the 16th green. It means delay in teeing as you wait on the those putting out. Similarly, the 6th tee is protected by netting as it's adjacent to the 5th green, so errant shot beware. At same time 9th green is on the other side of the 6th tee.
One can see that the pinch point at Green 3 is caused by the road and housing surrounding some of the course also limited the scale of design. Only in section holes 10 - 15 did it feel that you had the space and seclusion I had probably imagined I'd have throughout the round.
As mentioned, the conditioning is sublime, the bunkers a white course sand, with heather 'eyebrows', and a gently flat and rolling landscape makes this an easy short walk.
For me the standout holes were those in holes 10 - 13, a run that included 2 par 5's and a par 3. Neither par 5 was long, but the 1st, a semi blind shot sweeping left to right and the 2nd a dog left, played down to a green, with bunkers gathering up any errant shot left and right.
The par 11th swept back dog leg right and at 454 yards, was only 33 yards less than the previous par 5 - a visually attractive hole, with a green with steep banking at the front, but where with a front pin, leaving an uphill putt was the sensible option.
A couple of short risk v reward holes are also located on both 9's at holes 8 (302 yards) and hole 16 (326 yards) to balance against 9 par 4's where the minimum yardage was 395 yards upto 454 yards.
The 18th is also a good finishing hole, played uphill back to the starters hut and green located just outside the clubhouse.
This is a traditional members club and I can see the attraction - 27 holes, small parcel of land, short walks green to next tee, ability to play 6, 8 or 10 holes given the routing.
But for me, the parcel of land was too crowded with too many pinch points and not enough standout holes which I can easily recall, for me to want to jump at the chance to play again, unlike Broadstone, where I would be back in a flash to play.
Ferndown sits just outside of the UK top 100 and whilst this feels harsh we do have an abundance of courses queueing for entry onto that list. Ferndown feels special and the tree clearance promotes an intimate feel to the routing. The year we played the greens were the best I had played on all year and the manicured nature of the course must be commended. Dorset is a golfing giant that so many ignore, at their detriment.
Returned to Ferndown in August after a gap of a few years, Still a delightful heathland course with plenty of interest for a day out. Course condition was just out of this world unbelievable. Yes it was their open week, but it was worth the entry just to see the way the whole course was presented and to putt on the greens, which were stunningly quick and probably the best i have ever putted on. Some much higher ranked courses could learn a lot. Course is good but great work by the greenkeeper !
“It’s the first birdie of the day!” proclaimed our playing partner as Mrs W’s ball zipped down the second hole of Ferndown’s Old Course only to thwack into a seagull.
Seconds later another wing was clipped as the same thing happened to the group in front of us on the third.
Butterflies rather than birdies had been my problem in the opening holes because I was psyched out by our names being announced over a loudspeaker at the opening tee.
The mixed open during Ferndown’s festival week was presented with same gravitas as the Ryder Cup. Alas, I wasn’t sure that my game was up to the tremendous billing.
The picturesque Dorset course, synonymous with the Alliss family, was superbly presented for the competition.
Fairways had recovered impressively from recent rain and were cut in a light and dark before the criss-cross patterns in front of the greens. Putting surfaces were pacey but readable enough for me to sink a couple of monsters.
Not that we had it all our own way – far from it. This is a serious test of golf and many of the holes demanded harder hitting power than I possessed.
The first lays a marker - a stroke index 13 which was 401 yards according to my Garmin watch.
I can testify that a decent drive is not the end of the story because no less than seven bunkers protect the hole.
Pringles is the name of the third hole where Mrs W’s crisp shot almost killed wildlife. It is a challenging par four which bends to the right and needs care to avoid overshooting into the colourful bushes at the back of the green.
The fifth is a par three which plays longer than is 204 yards because of the slope just in front of the green. I flushed a driver and still came up a couple of yards short.
I was a fan of the par-five seventh, called Elysium – an ancient Greek word which means afterlife. Well, I was in heaven – going through a green framed by colourful bushes and attractive apartments and then chipping in my return for a non-feathery birdie.
The eighth is also my bag. A shorter par four which requires strategy to avoid bunkers on the left and trees to the right, before hitting a green on a hill.
The 12th and 14th are fun par threes – the former surrounded by trees and bunkers while the latter is more accessible with a green in a bowl.
The short 16th is also interesting because brighter golfers than me will realise that a driver will probably cause an overshoot into gorse – whereas a well-placed iron will reap greater reward.
The 397-yard 17th has the defence of a ditch to dissuade cowards such as me from going for broke in two.
Meanwhile, the 18th is a cracking finishing hole – uphill towards the clubhouse, weaving through bunkers. I played to my handicap and floated up a pitch with my third before nailing a 30-footer for my par in front of the clubhouse (why didn’t they announce my name after that?!)
Our playing partner’s handicap was a dazzling plus-two so I was keen to hear her opinion of Ferndown Old.
She agreed that it was in fantastic condition but too many of the holes demanded a long second shot, leaving her relying on the same club more often than she would expect.
I agree. We very much enjoyed Ferndown because it has an immediate wow factor. From arrival at its fabulous clubhouse with quality food, friendly staff, excellent practice facilities and the attractiveness of the course.
But I like variety and am a fan of the quirky – Ferndown doesn’t have much of the latter and is, consequently more of a pure golf experience than its near-neighbour Broadstone which we had played two days previously.
But, hey, they were both great in their own ways.
Ferndown is fantastic. A gorgeous heathland course that compliments its neighbours Parkstone and Broadstone, and makes you feel like you're in Surrey.
The first is a great downhill par 4 with some of the best bunkering you'll see short of the green. 2 3 4 5 are all good holes, and the 6th is a great uphill par 4 back towards the clubhouse. 8 is a short par 4 by the clubhouse which is also a great hole. My only criticism of the course is the back nine isn't quite as good.
A wonderful course that is a must play if in the area
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What a course. What an experience. What a member's club. If I could play only one course as a member for the rest of my golfing days, this could be the club.
The course was in pristine and immaculate condition. The greens were fast but playable. Visually, the course was stunning.
The first is a straight par 4 from an elevated tee looking out at some brilliant bunkering. I thought to myself that we don't always see too many straight holes and too many straight ones that looked that amazing.
The course had enough changes in elevation, green complexes and types of hole to leave you satisfied and coupled with the impressive trees, fauna and heath-rimmed white bunkers, it made for such a memorable experience. The members and staff were so friendly that it added up to nigh on the perfect golfing experience, which surpassed our expectations.
Wow, wow wow. My personal #278 course in England and # 411 worldwide.
This is right up there as my top "wish I was a member here course".
Everything previous reviews mention about the perfectness of the facilities for members regarding practice facilities, putting greens, tees, immaculate presentation, speed of greens etc applies.
We played it (after the "worth playing" 9 holer) as round #7 of our five day Dorset trip (which we booked through YGT and I was pleasantly surprised what a good deal we got).
The welcome from staff, the clubhouse, the views (especially from balcony) of the course, the locker rooms are all exemplary....the blue print for a members club.
Ferndown is even more perfect than Parkstone was on day 1.
Broadstone is tougher...that might ,are it a better course depending upon how you rank it ??? as is Remedy Oak, but overall I would firmly rank Ferndown as the very very best course/club to visit or - if you are lucky enough - to join.
Firstly, I want to say that Ferndown golf club may be home to some of the fastest greens I have ever played on in my life. The course condition is immaculate and the greens truly are levels above any others that I have putted on before. They are very undulated so putting on them is tricky but then again, that makes it all the more enjoyable.
The course itself is spectacular, beautiful heathland golf course which looks lovely from hole 1. You ease into the golf course with a relatively short par 4 to begin with, however the 2nd hole is a 180 yard par 3 which requires an accurate shot to find the green. The favourite hole for me would have to be the 14th which is a beautiful looking par 3, not too long, but surrounded by bunkers and a tricky up and down if the green is missed.
Ferndown truly is an awesome golf course which is kept in top notch condition, definitely worth every penny you pay to play this golf course. I’m tempted to give it 5 1/2 but there is just something about it which puts it in brackets below the likes of swinley, west sussex, alwoodley or woking. Still a top top golf course though, one of my favourites for sure!