I liked Royal Ashdown Forest from the very moment we arrived at the parking lot through the driveway to the club.
The clubhouse is elegant and simple, and perhaps these virtues define what is the club itself and the course that I had the pleasure of enjoying, the Old Course.
I was attracted long ago by the idea of playing a course without bunkers, in order to see how the designer had compensated for the absence of these hazards, both from a strategic and visual point of view.
Well, by way of advance I have to say that I was surprised of the result, and that the abundant features of the course made me not to miss the sand traps. In this sense, it is exemplary how other obstacles are used, such as heather, moguls, slopes, streams and tilted greens.
The start of the round is as simple as well resolved: a short hole, with a wide fairway and a green with a considerable slope: just a gentle start to the round.
The following holes are a kind of warm-up for what will come next, since, from the 5th hole, the challenge and beauty of the course begins to raise its tone.
I particularly liked the 6th hole, maybe the most iconic of the course, a devilish par 3 despite its short length (I only managed a bogey despite hitting the green), but I also loved the 7th, a dog leg with a steep uphill second shot, the par 5 8th, a beauty of a hole on the side of a hill and with an exceptionally well protected green, the long and photogenic par 3 11th, the par 5 12th, the 13th, another tough par 4, and the 17th, one of the most complicated par 4´s that I have had to face.
In short, and regardless of the virtues of some holes or other, I was impressed by the aesthetics of the course and the intelligent use of all kinds of obstacles and hazards.
Finally, there is another issue that, in my opinion, has to be praised, which is the limitation to matches of 2 balls. In this way, despite being our first contact with the course, we managed to finish the round in 3 and a half hours, time that I still consider something excessive taking into account the pace of play of the locals but which let us time to enjoy a lunch before our flight back home.
If this policy were applied in the clubs of Spain, at least at certain times of the day, players like me would not have so many problems to reconcile the game of golf with family life.
Date: June 21, 2019