Albeit flatter and more tree-lined than its neighbours at nearby Parkstone and Broadstone, Ferndown is another Dorset heathland gem. It must be a great course to be a member; you could throw a blanket over the practice green and net, first tee and clubhouse, whilst that golf-fix for a few evening holes can be easily satisfied as options of both a loop of six or eight are available at the start of the round due to the multiple loop options that return you back to the clubhouse.
The course is an easy walk since there are no severe hills to climb and tees are typically less than a half-wedge away from the previous green making Ferndown a very compact course. I’ve played the course twice now, spanning a period of four years between rounds and the bunker rework carried out over that period is of the highest calibre. Many of the bunkers, with the 4th hole probably being the best example, pop up above the ground providing extraordinary visual features rather than being embedded below the surface like most courses’ bunkers. The sandy areas on the 1st and 6th holes are especially remarkable examples of bunker design with the latter being beautifully natural with its shredded turf appearance. The 8th is another hole that’s defined by its bunker; a smidgen over three hundred yards, you could be mistaken to thinking this hole presents an easy birdie opportunity, but with the massively intimidating Warren bunker combined with an upturned saucer green and bushes tight to the rear, there’s plenty of protection on this hole to punish any slightly miscued shots.
Aside from the bunkering, a couple of the par four holes are protected by their proximity to the boundary line, 3 and 16 both coming immediately to mind, where the rhododendron bushes and white ‘out of bounds’ posts immediately at the rear of the greens offer plenty of intimidation. The 16th is also best characterised by its green; whilst in general, the greens at Ferndown are interesting without being wild, 16 breaks this mould as it’s a fantastical multi-tiered surface where placing your ball on the same tier as the pin will mean you’ll have relied on luck as much as skill and good judgement.
The course is by no means long, and its par fives all offer genuine opportunities for birdie, but to offer contrast to this, the dogleg par fours at the 9th, where there is a tiger-line available to cut the corner, and the rising left to right dogleg 13th, that extends to 452 yards uphill before approaching an oversized false-fronted green, help bring some needed muscle to the course. Ferndown is not an easy place to score though, due to its tight tree-lined routing and tricky bunkering arrangements, accuracy will be key to any golfer who wants to play a round that does justice to their handicap.
Date: May 21, 2019