Harry Colt is one of the icons of golf course design and Swinley Forest is, in his own words, "his least bad" work.
Colt designed Swinley Forest in the Surrey/Berkshire sand belt in 1909.
It's an exclusive club with royalty among its small membership.
We had a beautiful sunny day, and the course to ourselves- apart from the deer- so we had a lovely time exploring the course.
My GPS and the course distance markers never seemed to agree which added to the challenge!
Perhaps this is the sort of course where any sort of distance advice is contrary to the spirit of the place?
Swinley Forest has been in operation for over a 100 years but until more recent times there were no handicaps, no competitions- just golf with friends...
Harry Colt had a beautiful piece of heathland as the landscape for his design.
Each hole is framed by pine trees, with heather, azaleas and rhododendrons adding to the drama each hole
The strategic bunkering looked natural- and proved surprisingly penal.
The only question I had was in relation to the decidely unnatural mounding/ walls that bordered some fairways and greens- perhaps it was the earth removed from the burns running through the course which has been used to make sod walls?
It is not a long course, but as a par 68 it is challenging enough for most golfers.
Notable holes include:
- hole 1, a delightful opening par 4
- hole 2, a short par 4 with burn in play and sod walls bordering the fairway and green
- the gorgeous par 3 fourth hole
- the par 5 fifth hole with pond and burns challenging the second shot (see pic mid page)
- the picturesque par 3 eighth hole
- the long strong par 4 ninth hole
- the challenging par 3 tenth hole
- the par 3 thirteenth hole
- the par 3 seventeenth hole
- the short par 4 eighteenth hole, a classic strategic short par 4 (see pic top of page)
I was impressed by the collection of par 3's at Swinley Forest, each quite distinctly different from each other, but all fitting hand in glove in their settings.
The strategic short par 4's were also memorable.
These days Swinley Forest is a little more accessible for visitors.
Travelling Golfers should make it a priority to play one of the world's classic courses.
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