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3 miles E of Scunthorpe
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Matthew Peacock and Dan Greenwood
Lincolnshire is home to one of the world’s greatest inland courses and Woodhall Spa is also home to the English Golf Union but apart from Seacroft at Skegness and Luffenham Heath near Rutland Water, the fenland county has little to write home about. That was until 1996 when Forest Pines Golf & Country Club, near Scunthorpe, opened its 27 tees for play.
Englishman and PGA Tour player John Morgan, who sadly died in June 2006 following a long battle against a brain tumour, designed Forest Pines. It is a course that he was justifiably proud, especially as Golf World adjudged it the best new golf course in England opened since 1994.
There is a hint of Woburn and a touch of Wentworth at Forest Pines and with 27 holes it’s a popular and pleasantly informal corporate and society venue. Each of the three loops of nine, called Forest, Pines and Beeches starts and ends at the clubhouse, twisting and turning through the pines along the way. The best and most challenging combination comprises of the Forest and Pines layout which measures 6,859 yards from the tips. The shorter Beeches loop, with its three one-shot holes, makes for an ideal warm up ahead of the sterner championship challenge.
When Barry Ward was Golf Monthly’s Travel Editor he commented, “Being a minimalist, John (Morgan) has produced a refreshingly old fashioned course, one to delight the purists. There’s more than a suggestion of Braid about the mounded bunkering, for instance, and a hint of MacKenzie in the greens.”
I’ve played all 27 holes at Forest Pines on a number of occasions. There are three nines at this Q-Hotels venue, all of relatively similar calibre, and it was the ‘Forest’ and ‘Beeches’ loops we enjoyed this time out. The third nine ‘Pines’, along with ‘Forest’, is generally regarded as the premier make-up for a round of 18 and I would agree with this consensus.
But that said there is very little in it and the 27 holes generally have a very solid and consistent feel to them. The tree-lined nature and relative flatness of the property tends to breed a similarity and remembering individual holes at a later date can be a tricky task as they often blur into one. The reason is probably because there are very few stand-out holes – the flatness of the property probably contributes to that the most – but there is very little that disappoints either.
We were greeted with firm fairways and well-conditioned greens for the time of year and it’s a course I will certainly look to return to during the off-season as it is easily accessibly from the motorway network of Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.
Whilst the short holes fail to really pack a punch, the lack elevation change a contributing factor, the par fives sparkle as do a number of the two-shotters.
We opted for an early tee-time and had the course to ourselves, however, due to the nature of the facility it attracts a high volume of play, particularly the corporate and society type. Indeed upon finishing the putting green and first tee were heaving with activity as a large group was just starting.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.