Sunday, 26 December 2010

Delamere Forest

The 2nd hole

We had Saturday morning open, but found trying to arrange a game impossible. We ended up with a game after two good friends, whom I might add we have never met in person, arranged golf for us to play at a really beautiful private course south of Manchester called Delamere Forest. They contacted the club historian and a most delightful man who offered to host us at the club at 9:30 in the morning….on a Saturday!!! He did not play but did walk the first 12 holes before heading back for his own mid-day match.

The course turned out to be a huge surprise and a perfect finish to the week. The golf course is designed by Herbert Fowler and is a beautiful heathland course built over very undulating open land on a sandy property set in the low hills south of Manchester. The golf course featured sweeping panoramas, accents of heather, huge undulation in the fairways, elevated tees and greens and the most beautiful clubhouse clearly in view from half the course.

The 9th returning to the clubhouse

The golf course is friendly with ample room off the tee, some holes were lined with trees while others were framed in by long fescue, but always there were openings out to the surrounding landscape beyond. The rolling land, views into the surrounding hill and copses of wonderful spruce and oak made this a beautiful English Landscape that Capability Brown would have been impressed with.

The opening set of long par fours are brilliant. They were part of the changes made by Fowler when he returned to expand the course in the 1920’s. All the fours on the front are challenging since each makes perfect use of the terrain and asks for a different approach from the other ones. The threes are also tough and excellent and it’s only the five that prevents this from being one of the best nines in golf, its that good!

The short and fun 15th

The nines turned out to be contrast. The front is big and strong whereas the back nine is much shorter and more quirky. There were some really cool shorter holes like the cross-sloped 13th and the downhill 14th, but the quirkiest and perhaps coolest hole was the short 15th played to a very Mackenzie like 15th elevated green. Perhaps the best hole may have been the 16th which involved a long par three played into a bowl where the player can either fly or feed the ball into the green.

The golf course was full of excellent lessons in design. I’m quite interested in all the greens that are set in rather than on a promontory. Fowler used this at a number of the courses we saw. I liked his routing and the fact that he emphasized the land as the strategy through with the bunkering rather than make the bunkers the strategy. This is another cool concept worth looking at.

Delamere is exactly the course I would like to join. They have a friendly membership that plays fast. The golf course is a pleasure to play, but will test your game. It’s simply a beautiful place that has everything you could possibly want and great golf too. I feel very fortunate to have played there.

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