Remedy Oak opened for play in November 2005 and former Ryder Cup Captain John Jacobs designed the golf course, or at least made a few visits during the construction phase. Set in more than 250 acres of ancient woodland near Horton in Dorset, Remedy Oak immediately appears mature beyond its tender years. John Jacobs commented: “When I first saw the location for Remedy Oak, I knew it had the potential to be one of the best courses in the UK. To see it now, I feel that potential has been realised.”
With a girth of more than six metres, the Remedy Oak tree, which is located a couple of miles from the course, is legendary. Apparently the nine-year-old Boy King, King Edward VI sat under the oak tree and “touched for Kings Evil”. Kings Evil was a medieval custom whereby the King could touch and heal people with skin diseases.
Miracles cannot be guaranteed at Remedy Oak Golf Club but we can vouch for the fact that it’s perhaps the most exclusive golf club south of the M25 and the course is highly polished with immaculate tee to green grooming. Remedy Oak is also home to the Legends Charity Golf Classic, where cricketer Sir Ian Botham hosts an annual charity event in aid of Leukaemia Research.
Many people in the know reckon Remedy Oak is one of the finest inland golf courses in Britain but few people had the chance to experience the course when it first opened. Thankfully the club now welcomes visitors and the word on the street is that the rather expensive green fee is worth every penny.
Jonathan Gaunt prepared the original masterplan for Remedy Oak and obtained planning permission for the owner, Bill Riddle. Although the course was built in-house, Jonathan told us he “did spend a long time on site inspecting the land in detail – it was not easy to get about because some of the woodland was over 100 years old and was really dense. It was fun, though.”
In June 2017 we asked Jonathan if he had any interesting snippets regarding the challenge of designing a course on such a vast scale. He commented as follows:
“It was particularly difficult because of the restrictions of the local authority in relation to ecology, etc. We had to preserve certain trees and water bodies. In particular, we designed the bunkers on some holes so they were south-facing – to attract adders and grass snakes to “bask” in them! Makes a new meaning of a sand hazard! We also proposed significant areas of tree clearance to create new heathland – I enjoyed this and it has stood me in good stead for the work I’m currently doing at Whittington Heath in Lichfield – where we are creating 25 acres of new heathland within the new course extension (as a result of the HS2 railway line).”
The final stop on our Dorset tour. This is more your modern day club. A relatively new course, ranked number 2 in the county and its easy to see why. Its an experience – from the endless drive from club gates to car park, the welcome at reception, the introduction on the first tee, the practice facilities – everything is done to make your time at Remedy Oak a full experience.
As to the course, it costs a little more than its other illustrious neighbours of Ferndown and Broadstone, but for the sheer experience its worth the fee. Clearly its not the sort of green fee you’d be expecting to pay at your average local course, but as a one-off, whilst away on tour, definitely add it to the schedule.
The course is much more tree-lined, forest based than the gorse and heather of other courses in the area, and uses the natural landscaping well to carve out some lovely holes. As you’d expect from a modern course, water comes into play on numerous holes, each representing great “risk & reward” opportunities and also at the par 3 11th. The 18th too, is a great finishing hole across water from a downslope approach.
In terms of condition, this is the one area we felt the course could have scored a little better. The first green was not in good shape, it appears to sit in a shady area and as a result was strangely very slow (compared to the rest of the course). There were also several areas near to greens that seemed to be lacking of any maintenance which meant that it could be pot luck in the lie you acquired – of course if you hit a lot of greens then you wouldn’t experience this so much ! The greens in general appeared to quicken as we went around the course; we felt they were decent, if not the same quality of Ferndown. One other thing, some of the walks between greens and tees were a little excessive, but again this is typical of the modern day, buggy laden courses that are now the norm.
These minor things aside, we found the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable.