I am a fan of the West course and in some places and on some holes I have a preference over the Old course here. That may sound like sacrilege but there is a little half an hour on the back nine from the 14th tee to the last green where the West is first class and may rival the Old course for sheer enjoyment.
The West is a short course, under 6000 yards and even shorter in the winter (a specific winter card says 5179 yards / par 68) but although not long, this is all about quality, fun and enjoyment and one of the best winter options in the south-east.
The longest par-4 on the front nine is at the first hole at a modest 354 yards - only some dead-ground short of the green the real problem. The West only has a single par-5 and it is at the 3rd - reachable in two for some at 483 yards with the second shot having to cross the driveway to the clubhouse.
As the course names states, this like the Old has forest all around and is just a beautiful walk, the golf is a bonus.
The early part of the course to the 6th would be in the good category but the middle third delivers to the next level in my opinion. The seven holes; 7th - 13th only cover 1855 yards and are like a little standalone short course; most holes are close by each other and the 12th is my favourite of the group - here is a 292 yard par-4 to a very slim green at the far west of the course.
As mentioned at the top, the final five holes are the strongest part of the course, with the 14th tee being as good as anywhere across both Royal Ashdown courses. To picture this hole, think of the par-5 4th on Wentworth’s West course - about 100 yards shorter but the same right to left tee short a must. The 15th, another slight dogleg (to the right this time) is an obvious birdie chance - then on to the 16th. This is a downhill par-3, a little over 100 yards and the best looking short hole here bar none. The closing hole is the toughest par-4 on the course - 417 yards turning a little left after 300 yards and then your approach needs to cross a good looking brook just short of the green.
Royal Ashdown Forest has always been on the map with the Old course featuring in the top 2% of courses in England but my advice is to allow time to play 36 holes as the West has plenty of its own merits and is definitely ‘golf with a smile’.
Date: January 02, 2019