119 Golf Links Road,
- +44 (0)1202 653 950
M3, M27, A31 to Ferndown.
Contact in advance - Not Thu<br>and restricted Sat/Sun
Ferndown Golf Club is a pine and heathery heaven, set in pleasing manicured countryside and located 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.
There is no doubt that Ferndown is one of the prettiest and best-conditioned courses in the South and the club is not resting on its laurels. In August 2014, Murray Long was appointed as Courses Manager from Sunningdale Golf Club. Murray has further improved both the quality of the playing surfaces as well as the presentation.
Arriving early at the golf club, friendly staff and members made us feel most welcome. Yes, the starter was a bit long winded on the do's and don'ts but as the vista over the golf course is so picturesque, it was easy enough to focus on something else. The course itself is so playable and an easy walk. The greenkeeping is to a very high standard with a particular shout out to the greens and truly excellent bunkers. At just over 6,200 yards from the yellow society tees, some will find the course a tad short but perfect for the senior player. I loved the first hole, found a couple of short par 4’s fun to play and honestly could not find any hole to fault. Perhaps not as challenging as Broadstone but of the top Dorset courses, this must rank as the most enjoyable to walk and play.
When I go to a golf club, especially a well-established one, I like to feel like a member for the day. On tour in Dorset playing what are widely regarded as the top four clubs in the county, the only place I did not get that was the day we played Ferndown Old.
If the criteria for reviews posted on these web pages are purely the golf course then I concede that the Old Course at Ferndown is a first class layout delivering a decently smooth flow between green and tee box with some genuinely terrific golf holes in the mix.
Yet despite paying £110 each, visitors are clearly deemed as secondary to members and are given their own changing room where there is a large poster with the correct clothing shown on one side and the incorrect stuff on the other. I seriously doubt that anyone wearing flip-flops, denim cut-offs and a football top would head to Ferndown anyway, but he would never get past the door.
There is a sign in the car park telling visitors do not change into golf shoes outside and when one leaves the changing room one is given another list of dos and don’ts from the starter. One cannot take one’s clubs within five yards of the green. Why?
I quite understand why one should not take a golf trolley into the heather, but what is wrong with taking it nearer the green? Unfortunately my shirt had slipped out and I was told to put it back in. It was rather like being back at school and one was embarking on one’s first round. My fourball included our club professional who is not likely to lack the required etiquette and nor were me or my two other companions.
The course redeems much of this although there were no stroke savers so on holes like the short par five ninth it is not clear to the first time visitor what the line is. And only being able to walk on designated paths adds time to one’s round for no apparent reason.
There is a lengthy instruction on the short par four 16th where one plays left of a fiendishly tiered green that is rather like reading a legal document explaining the risks to the individual golfer of slicing into adjoin gardens. Two more fine finishing holes, take us up the clubhouse.
Sadly we also experienced a very much them and us atmosphere in there too with members getting served even if they had approached the bar after us and not one of the three women working behind the bar ever looked up at us to say, ‘I will be with you in a minute.’
So there it is: a four to five star golf course in a beautiful setting with slick, immaculately maintained greens, but as an overall experience that I would take away with me from my day no more than three. It would be the one course of Dorset's top four that I would not return to.
I am sorry to read that you did not fully enjoy your experience at Ferndown Golf Club. I have taken note of your feedback and will consider what further steps we can take to ensure visitors, who are most welcome at Ferndown, do feel like a member for the day (which is our wish). Delighted that you enjoyed the golf course and we do hope that you will visit us again. Ian Walton GM
We played Ferndown as visitors and we thought we got a very warm welcome. The changing rooms were fine and we didn't mind the visitors changing room being separate. The course was in fantastic condition and it looks like they have done a lot of work on it in recent years. We thought it was the nicest course we played out of the top 4 Dorset courses and should now be much higher rated and would recommend anyone to play it if they are going to Dorset
Played last week in lovely sunshine in great condition and 4 of us had a fantastic game on a beautiful, tough, well conditioned course. Alone of the 3 classics in the area, Ferndown has a highly recommended summer twilight rate after 3:30 pm which was taken up by ours and one other group with no one else joining the course. As an aside, I don't understand why more clubs don't do this to encourage use of their expensively maintained courses, adding some bonus revenue whilst not inconveniencing their members. West Hill also does this in contrast to its neighbours. Anyway, the golf is excellent with a stunningly presented 1st hole gently downhill from the friendly clubhouse towards heather, stately trees, and blinding revetted, heather fringed white sand bunkers. The course maintains an excellent quality throughout with several par 4's that you have to check weren't par 5's just in case you had scraped a par. The greens were sloping and quick, and on numerous occasions we commented on what a quality but fun course Ferndown is. Can't wait to play the 3 nearly courses that are apparently even better !
Ferndown is one of those golf courses that simply looks the business, the bees knees, the mutts nuts… I could go on. It must be a photographer’s dream.
Standing on the first tee you look down the hole and your eyes take in a beautifully defined fairway, a mass of heather-topped frilly bunkers, with flashes of white sand, and glorious pine trees framing the hole. This is just about repeated another 17 times throughout the round.
Optically the course reminded me of West Hill in Surrey and if this is what you like, and let’s face it most of us do, then you will enjoy your round here. And whilst it’s not an easy golf course it isn’t too taxing either so a good score is to be had; the fairways are generous, the property is relatively flat and you won’t be able to blame the greens for a missed putt because they roll extremely true. Tangle with the heather, fall victim to the many bunkers or say hello to the pine trees though and you may have a different tale to tell.
At 6,508 yards (par 71) this Harold Hilton designed course, founded in 1913, is no brute but there are a few dog-leg holes where driver from the tee may not be the correct choice nor may it be at the excellent eighth where a desert of sand awaits a pulled drive just as the fairway bottlenecks before you pitch to a green hanging tantalisingly on the hillside.
The other hole that really caught my eye was the “driveable” 16th. I say driveable because there is actually a sign on the tee discouraging you from going for it, and in truth it probably isn’t the sensible play anyway. What it is though is a magnificent hole and this is thanks to a unique semi-circular, three-tiered green that falls slightly away from the angle of play. Getting close to the green is easy, staying on it is harder and putting your ball in the hole once on it can be trickier than a Rubik’s Cube if you find yourself on the wrong level. Quite brilliant.
Looking back now a few days later and my favourite holes were the ones with a bit more elevation change. For anyone who reads my reviews (all two of you) you’ll know my personal preference is for golf courses that have a bit more movement in the land, offer strategic options on how to play each hole, promote the ground game and are very natural in appearance. Ferndown doesn’t quite tickle my taste buds in this respect, however, if you favour appearance and conditioning over strategy and terrain then Ferndown is the course for you.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Played on 8 March. Lovely golf course which should only get better with the extensive work being undertaken. There were a couple of temporary greens but fair play to the club for offering a discount on the green fee. Many standout holes including 4, 5, 9, 11, 15 & 18. Just wished 14 was open as this looked a stunning par 3. A very good course and one I will play again when the work has been completed.
Just got back from 5 days of golf in Bournemouth, we played Ferndown gc on the 2nd day, we all thought it was a great golf course in imacculate condition. The downside was having paid £85.00 for a round we were made to play off the yellow forward tees, this wouldnt have been to bad but most tees were put right to the front by the ladies tees. We were all single figure handicaps, and felt the course played way to short. We also played Broadstone, Isle of Purbeck, Parkstone, and Remedy Oak, and the all allowed us to play off there back tees.
A group of ten of us played here as part of our Dorset tour, playing the shorter Alliss course in the morning and the Old course in the afternoon.
The club itself is clearly the focal point for much of the local wealth and has all the hallmarks of an old, traditional golf club. We were generally made to feel welcome although on arrival the pro seemed to have no record of the email exchange that had made our arrangements several months earlier. We were also gently reminded of the need to have our shirts tucked-in for fear of upsetting the members.
The shorter Alliss course was a nice warm-up for the afternoon; it’s a reasonable length and offers some good challenges, but at £35 is significantly over-priced. As you’d expect the course isn’t as well maintained as it’s bigger brother, but if you can wrap it into a day ticket of some form, as we did, then the cost becomes more reasonable.
Visually, the Old course is very attractive and we all agreed it was a joy to play. The course offers the bigger hitters room off of the tee but the greens themselves provide a defence, since they are very fast and very true (we had been told before playing that they were running to the same stimp reading as Wentworth, which I don’t think we could argue against !) To score well therefore you definitely need your putting shoes on or run the risk of ruining a score. It’s not an overly difficult course and can therefore be very scoreable.
The course winds its way thru beautiful golfing terrain and has some lovely holes. We played the course on a twilight rate, which was extremely good value, however at the full summer rate it arguably becomes quite expensive, especially when compared against its competitors of Broadstone and Remedy Oak. We found both of these courses more challenging, but of the three courses, the greens at Ferndown were definitely the best.
I have had the pleasure of playing Ferndown (Old) for the past few years. It always seems to get better each year. A fantastic course and always a warm welcome. Highly recommend.