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Leave M1 at Exit 27 take signs for Mansfield
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The royal hunting Forest of Sherwood in middle England is world famous as the legendary home of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Sherwood Forest is also an important home to some of Europe’s finest trees and heathland. The Sherwood Forest Golf Club is now designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because it contains the largest area of low-lying heathland in the Midlands.
But it wasn’t always this way. Life began in 1895 as the Mansfield Golf Club on the fields of Ravensdale – the area is now a housing estate. In 1911, the club became the Sherwood Forest Golf Club in readiness for a move to new heathland ground at Eakring Road. Harry Colt designed the new course and James Braid revised the layout in the mid 1920s – today’s layout bears his hallmark. Further minor changes – larger greens and new tees – were implemented in the early 1980s after recommendations made by Cotton, Pennink, Steel and Hawtree.
Today’s course looks very different to the original layout, but only because the trees have grown up over the years, creating an enclosed feeling. The back nine wends its way, each hole in isolation, through the trees. The first few holes possess a more open, heathland feel. But there’s no doubt that Sherwood Forest is set on superb golfing terrain and it’s also a supreme test of golf. The club has played host to Open Championship Regional Qualifying and even Gary Nicklaus, son of the great Jack, failed to qualify here, not only once, but twice.
Renowned for its fantastic greens and friendly welcome, Sherwood Forest is certainly a course to put on your itinerary when visiting the Midlands. Include it alongside Notts and Lindrick and you will have played three of the best inland courses in the country.
The opening stretch at Sherwood Forest is all laid out in front of the clubhouse so it’s a wonderful vista to display what’s in store for the first time visitor. You’re introduced with an undulating and pretty start where the first four holes play in a small loop, but you’ll need to be sure to make your score over these opening holes as what begins as a relatively modest test of your game then starts to show its teeth from the 6th. This is the part of the course that takes you towards some wonderful open heathland where you play golf in splendid isolation. Whilst the 6th is a real tough-nut and maybe the most difficult hole on the course, the most brutal stretch is in the middle of the round starting from the 9th. This is the point where five par fours all play over 400 yards in the space of six holes, averaging in excess of 440 yards from the white tees. Make sure your long-iron game is in good shape as you’ll be hitting plenty of them into the greens. Despite this, the course is still scoreable. Fairways are wide leading to interesting angles into greens and birdies are available through the closing stretch of holes as you return to the clubhouse.
All three par fives are reachable in two but it’s the 8th that stood out for me as the most interesting. It’s the first of a sweeping four hole stretch that takes place across valleys as you pass adjacent to a mass of heather and forest as far as the eye can see to the right-hand side of these holes. The bunkering across the course is another highlight, well shaped and thoughtfully positioned meaning that most shots are accompanied by the potential of going into a sandy hazard.
Overall, I was close to giving the course a 5-ball rating and it must be on the cusp of the Top 100 GB & Ire rankings although I’m struggling to see how the club can make further improvements so it can make that leap. Whilst it’s not on the same level as Notts, it simply doesn’t have the striking holes to compete with its more illustrious neighbour, it’s a seriously good course all the same and there are no weak holes.
Sherwood Forest is a superb heathland golf course that is played over an amazing isolated property which reveals its full beauty through holes seven to 14, both visually and playing wise.
The other holes aren’t bad either though and many a first time visitor will be surprised at just how good the quality of golf on offer is at this Nottinghamshire great.
The first third of the course stays relatively close to the clubhouse and is the best place to make your score with a couple of shortish par fours and a reachable par five in the equation. The standout hole of the opening stretch is the second which requires you to decide on the tee just how much of the fairway you wish to bite off; superbly positioned bunkers on both the inner and outer elbow of the dog-leg is the probable fate for those who fail or inevitably a longer approach waits for those who bail out to the left.
Much of this opening gambit at Sherwood Forest can be seen from the clubhouse but also spied by standing on tiptoes and peaking over a wall that separates the car park from the first tee. I can remember doing that for the first time a few years ago and having my breath taken away by the beauty and anticipation of it all.
The inevitable comparison now begins between here and Hollinwell due to their proximity and inevitable local rivalry. For me Notts is the clear winner but only because of how much I love that course rather than any negativity towards this one. A footnote should be added that I have always found Sherwood in the better condition, especially their glassy greens.
Once you also throw into the mix courses such as Lindrick and Coxmoor one starts to realise this is a real unsung area for high quality golf.
There’s a lot to admire about Sherwood Forest and in my opinion it should be rated much higher than it often is by national magazines and the like. Its northerly location, in the East Midlands close to Mansfield, may lose it some points when pitted against the Surrey heathlands and that’s a shame because it more than holds its own against its southern counterparts.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
What a treat. Few courses are as picturesque as Sherwood. The clubhouse is set on a plateau so the views over the course are very pleasing to the eye. The course is not overly long, but challenging enough! The greens were very fast, especially for april. Highlights were the little wedge par 3 7th, with its lowered narrow green surrounded by bunkers and the following par 5 that is a fairy talehole. Now the gorse was i bloom but I cn only imagine what it looks like when all the heather is in bloom. The back nine has some tough long par 4s and you cannot lose your focus until the very end. The concitions were very good and I loved the beautiful mowpatterns. After the round we met the most wonderful lady from the bar Maureen, she couldn't have made us feel more welcome. I will definitely return.
My aim is to play the top 100 golf courses in the British Isles. I have currently played 145 but only 80 of the current list. Last Wednesday I played Sunningdale New and was very disappointed with the condition of the tees and bunkers and it's green were barely 8 on the stint meter. However my Thursday golf was at a vastly superior course at Sherwood Forest. The bunkers had sand in, the greens were about 10.5 on the stint meter and were very true and all the tees were easy to find. Sherwood Forest might not give the single figure golfer the same challenge as say Walton Heath or Gleneagles PGA Centenary but the condition and the fun the course gave me was superior. I cannot understand why this course is not ranked much higher.
In defence of the New at Sunningdale our usual hollow tining took place in late March/Early April after the Foursomes so naturally both courses are recovering. Whilst we have a brilliant watering system there is nothing like some heavy persistent rain to help the process and we simply haven't had any. I don't know Sherwood Forest so can't make the comparison but I don't think the New's ranking lies- I think you will struggle to find two courses as good as Old and New anywhere in England, the UK or the World. TT
Played Sherwood Forest in late October 2016 and thought it excellent. The layout is intriguing, the bunkering and greens superb. The short 7th was a joy and the long par 4s in the early back nine a real challenge. We had more fun playing this course than the many others notched off this year, and Sherwood Forest put the Woburn courses and Remedy Oak to shame. I considered giving a six ball, and not far off. Would urge anyone who hasn't played here to give it a go, as you will come away with big smiles. This is what golf is all about!
Played Sherwood Forest early morning in mid October and could not believe now good the condition was after weeks of heavy rain. The view from the 1st tee and putting green is brilliant, a panorama of 5/6 holes across the valley. The layout is great, but extremely tough. Tbe stretch of holes from 9-15 really is extremely tough. Five par 4s all over 440 yards. But it's the par 3s that make the course. The stunning little 115 yard 7th is the signature hole, very similar to the Postage Stamp at Troon. Playing 20 feet downhill to a green that sits 60 yards in length but 15/20 foot wide makes it a real test. The green slopes from front to back and each side kicks off the green into one of the many bunkers that surround it. The variety of holes was also very impressive, short reachable par 5s in 2 followed by brutally tough 478 yard par 4. It is a real challenge. The bunkering on the course is fantastic, greens protected, corner of doglegs, landing zones off the tee, it is a very clever layout. Similar in many aspects to courses like Alwoodley/Moortown, very surprised it's not higher in the rankings. Would recommend to anyone, the greens are as good as you'll find anywhere and that's after weeks of heavy rain in October.
Played the course as part of a short golf trip in April 2016. A quality course, which as others suggest could easily be ranked higher in the UK top-100. It should certainly be ranked closer to its near neighbour (Notts GC) in my opinion. A very friendly welcome from Pro-shop, clubhouse and members alike, which always enhances the overall experience. The view from the clubhouse across several holes on the front 9 plus the 18th make for a very pleasant start and/or finish to the day. Green fee was also excellent value. All in all a must visit for golfers looking to play the best courses the country has to offer.