49a Links Road,
- +44 (0) 1202 707138
3 miles W of Bournmouth
Contact in advance - handicap certificate required
Willie Park Junior, James Braid
We’ve classified Parkstone Golf Club as a seaside heathland course. It’s certainly not a traditional links and neither is it very far inland. It's an unusual and unique course, located on a beautiful sandy tract of undulating heathland, affording magnificent views across Poole Bay and Poole Harbour. The fairways are lined with the delights of pine and heather and the picture in spring is an especially pretty one when the rhododendrons are in full bloom.
The land was originally part of Lord Wimborne’s Canford Estate that stretched all the way from Wimbourne to Sandbanks, a natural peninsula, jutting into the sea at the entrance to Poole Harbour. The Water Company built two reservoirs and a pump house. Little did they know the water would come in handy to irrigate the new golf course that Willie Park Junior laid out in 1909. The great revisionist, James Braid, appeared on the scene in 1932 and Parkstone was subsequently lengthened and altered.
Little has changed since Braid’s alterations. The course presents a delightfully tranquil and varied challenge amongst the heather and pine. Parkstone is not overly long, measuring 6,300 yards from the back tees, but it’s sufficiently challenging for golfers of all levels. You cannot help but be taken in by the charms of Parkstone and the mesmerising experience.
This is ‘Alliss’ country. Peter Alliss learned his trade down the road at Ferndown where his dad, Percy, was the professional for 25 years. Peter became the professional at Parkstone in 1957 and remained at the club until 1970. Percy and Peter Alliss became the first family on either side to have father and son representation in the Ryder Cup. The Garrido family joined the Alliss family in the father and son record books in 1997 when Ignacio was a member of the winning 1997 Ryder Cup Team at Valderrama.
We thoroughly recommend a trip to Parkstone. It is a gorgeous place to play golf and it’s an interesting and varied course to boot.
The biggest compliment I can give to Parkstone is that I cannot think of many inland golf courses in the British Isles that are superior.
By my personal reckoning there are less than a dozen and if you factor in that there are around 3,000 in total across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland this is high praise indeed. It’s not perfect, but it’s not far off.
The main reason I rate the course so highly is because of the exciting terrain and the plethora of wonderful green sites. The undulating, twisting nature of this mature coastal property is a dream and encourages all sorts of daring shots; descending drives and approaches to elevated greens are two things that feature time and time again.
Situated on very sandy soil and close to the sea this terrain was simply made for golfing. You play through splendid pine with glorious vistas opening up time and time again. The masses of heather were not in full purple bloom on my visit so I can only imagine how wonderful it looks later on in the year.
The green complexes at virtually every hole are superb, engaging and make you not only think about the shot at hand but potentially the next one too if things go wrong.
And if Parkstone is not truly great from the tee, it is certainly very good.
With its five short holes and five par-fives there is a real sense of fun, adventure and creativity when playing here. The ebb and flow of the round at Parkstone is contagious. Par is 72 and the maximum yardage is just 6,282 but there is a lot of golf packed into that.
From afar I believe the trio of heathland courses in Dorset all vie for the title of being the best, eagerly looking out to see how they compare in the various rankings, and have improved their courses in recent years to up their game. After having played all three, if it’s an unbiased opinion you are looking for, Parkstone is a clear winner, in fact it’s not even close.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
For my money, the golf available in Dorset stands up to some of the best that heathland golf has to offer in the whole of England, and there are two Dorset courses that climb head and shoulders above the others in this region, these being Parkstone and Broadstone. Parkstone Golf Club is a place of beauty. 18 holes that sit upon delightfully undulating Dorset land.
On arrival, I sat on the patio waiting for my playing partners and blissfully took in the view down the first fairway and across to the eighteenth green (pictured). A great place to build the anticipation of the mouth-watering prospect that was to come. A stunning opener greets your first tee shot that’s guarded by beautiful bunkering before you serenely work your way towards and around the lake for the first few holes. The course is tree lined in places but not to the detriment of allowing the heather to develop. The club has taken pride in bringing the course back to its heathland roots over recent years with successful heather regeneration and tree clearance.
Whilst the opening few holes offer an enjoyable start, the course really starts to light up after you cross the road to the 7th. This part of the course has some beautiful views, most notably the 8th tee as you climb to the higher reaches of the course. You won’t find many flat holes at Parkstone, the land is beautifully and naturally contoured. There are some gorgeous elevated tee shots and these are complemented with some pretty narrow fairway landing areas so choose wisely off the tee and don’t idly head straight for the driver or you’ll come unstuck.
The standout holes appear on the back 9 and include the eleventh, a par 5 that doglegs towards a green which gathers before a copse of pine trees and is protected by a hidden dell. 14 is a wonderful par 3 that’s one of the few holes that’s enveloped by tall trees that surround it, whilst the 15th and 17th are my two favourites across the whole layout. The 15th being a long par 4 played from a raised tee, down into a valley that banks heavily from the heather strewn hillock on the right-hand side before the long second shot is played to an elevated green with a steep fall to the left. 17 is a wacky par 5 where the landing area for longer hitters is obscured by a mound to the right. The hole rises all the way to the green meaning that it’s blind until you get to around 100 or so yards from the pin. Keep faith in your swing and hit for the centre of the fairway, but take enough club as the green is guarded with a steep ledge to its front.
Now that course maintenance is to such exacting standards, Parkstone offers excellent value for money as the conditioning now matches the wonderful architecture that the course has always had. I firmly believe that the course now sits proudly as the equal of some of Surrey’s top courses. Hopefully Parkstone will find its rightful place inside the GB & Ire Top 100 when the next rankings are created. If there are 100 courses better than this, then we must be truly blessed. As for which is better of Broadstone and Parkstone? I’ll leave that to better men than me to decide.
Played on 7 March. Just a fabulous golf course which oozes charm. The first hole sets the tone and is beautiful with the bank of heather on the left hand side of fairway and green. All the par 3s are wonderful especially 7 and 14. The pick of the other holes were 4, 5, 9, 10, 15, 17 & 18. Very enjoyable round
Thanks for your Dorset reviews, we are swinging through there in May, very handy to have a single "voice" review the courses, think we'll play Liphook and Ferndown.
Stunning; revisiting Parkstone for the first time in 25 years have to say recent reviews are not wrong. The conditioning of the whole course was excellent with quick greens, beautifully presented tees, fairways and bunkers and blessed with banks of heather; I can't think of a course that I have played that was in better condition so full credit to the greenstaff. The course is very much heathland and has 5nr par 5's and 5nr par 3's which provides much variety, and although not long it is punishing if you are off-line. Changes in elevation with a number of elevated tees are a real feature. No real stand out holes as all were good, although I thought the par 3 14th seemed like a bit of a fill-in, after the superb par 4 13th. Fantastic par 3 finishing hole. Food and clubhouse also excellent and only negative was a 5 hour round. I prefer Parkstone to Ferndown and Broadstone, and it is very close to getting a 6 ball, but it probably just lacks a few tough par 4's. A great place for a days golf