10 of the Best - Courses in Dorset
DORSET is located in southwest England on the English Channel coast. It has a varied landscape featuring broad elevated chalk downs, steep limestone ridges and low-lying clay valleys. More than half the county is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is the birthplace of the celebrated author Thomas Hardy. The county town is Dorchester, but most people will know Dorset because of Bournemouth and Poole, the latter of which features some of the most expensive properties in England.
This part of the country enjoys more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. Agriculture used to be the main industry but it has been overtaken by tourism. It has thousands of acres of heathland, which makes it an ideal county for golf. Here, we look at 10 of the best that Dorset has to offer.
Parkstone Golf Club
Par 72, 6,263 yards, parkland
Green fee £90, winter £65
Parkstone is thick with heather rough that twists the club and huge Scots pine trees. It is a beautiful golf course but also one where you have to hit the fairways to have any chance of scoring well. Peter Alliss was the pro here for many years. The third is a par five, measuring 485 yards and features an intimidating drive across heather to a narrow shoulder beyond which the fairway drops away. The second is blind over a brow after which the hole opens up to a sloping green with a hedge beyond. There is a great view of Poole Harbour from the tee at the 345-yard eighth. The hole is downhill and falls steeply away to the fairway so an accurate drive is vital before an approach to a sloping green surrounded by bunkers. The 13th measures 368 yards, with trees on either side and two bunkers to the right of the fairway - these are to be avoided. Be careful with the second shot because some dead ground and a bunker before the green foreshorten it - always take one more club than you think. The 17th is a cracking par five of 532 yards. A well struck drive is required to carry a mound of heather, but there is an alternative route to the left known as 'Old Man's Alley'. The second shot needs to carry the brow of a hill to leave a short iron approach to an elevated green - no bunkers to be seen, but plenty of trees.
Ferndown Golf Club
Par 71, 6,500 yards, heathland
Green fee £90, winter £50
Ferndown was designed by Harold Hilton, the former Open champion, and opened in 1914. It is the course where Peter Alliss learnt to play - his father, Percy, was the club professional for 25 years. Some of the well designed and steep-lipped bunkers are especially tough while a number of holes are dog-legs making the tee-shot crucial if the many trees are to be avoided. The first is 395 yards and plays slightly downhill. A tee shot should favour the right hand side of the fairway. Trust the yardage on the approach shot – the cross bunkers make the hole appear closer than it is. In total, the green is protected by seven bunkers. The third is a 417-yard dogleg with trees on both sides. Long hitters can fly the fairway bunker to leave a mid to short iron approach but most people will play left of the sand and leave a long second shot to a green that is surrounded by sand and features out of bounds at the rear. The 12th is a par three measuring 185 yards. It looks narrower than it is because of the trees, and bunkers eat into both sides of a small green - a potential card-wrecker. The 18th measures 415 yards and there is danger everywhere - trees line both sides of the fairway and there is a fairway bunker on the right. The ideal drive is a slight draw. The second shot to a raised green needs to carry two bunkes short and must avoid the trap to the left.
Remedy Oak Golf Club
Par 72, 7,025 yards, parkland
Green fee £95, includes coffee, range balls, and refreshments on the course
Remedy Oak is located near Horton in Dorset, and is set within 256 acres of ancient woodland. As the name indicates, there are a lot of trees on this beautiful golf course. The first is a 425-yard par four that plays gently uphill. Aim left of centre as if you go right your second will be blocked out by a large tree. The undulating green has bunkers left and right. The seventh is 465 yards and is the toughest hole on the course. It is a proper dogleg, from left to right, and unless you hit a good drive you can forget about reaching the green in two. However, a long straight tee shot will leave you in an elevated position and give a great view of the green, which is guarded by a lake. Oh yes, and to make it even tougher, you are aiming towards a three-tier green, so make sure you find the right level. A fantastic hole. The 11th is a beautiful but challenging 213-yard par three that can be stretched to 235 yards from the championship tees. Anything that goes right will find the water guarding the green. The 17th measures 555 yards, and is not for the faint hearted. The ideal drive is up the right side, but that brings trees and a ditch into play.Shorter hitters should play further left from the tee then use the marker post in the fairway as their target when laying up short of the cross bunkers. Those taking the green on in two need to clear the cross bunkers from where balls will normally bounce down to the green.
Isle of Purbeck Golf Club
Par 70, 6,298 yards, heathland/links
Green fee £48, winter £30
Isle of Purbeck was built in 1892 and, believe it or not, was once owned by Enid Blyton. One of the most scenic courses in the South West, set in the Purbeck Hills high above Poole Harbour, Old Harry Rock and Sandbanks, the views over the water are stunning. The view from the fifth green is spectacular, so be sure to enjoy it. Accuracy is essential here. The fifth is 404 yards long. The tee sits on top of a bronze age burial ground. It is a beautiful golf hole calling for an accurate drive, which leaves an approach to a narrow green that runs at right angles to the fairway. The seventh hole is a 355-yard par four - the ideal drive is a draw, to avoid falling away to the right. The approach is to a small,sloping green which is well guarded on both sides. The 10th is 414 yards and has a narrow fairway that falls away from the tee before widening to leave an approach to a beautiful green. The 15th is a lovely 187-yard par three played to a green which is surrounded by bunkers and slopes towards the gorse bushes.
Dorset Golf and Country Club
Par 72, 7,027 yards, parkland
Green fee £46
The Martin Hawtree designed Dorset Golf and Country Club comprises 27 holes in three loops of nine, the Lakeland and Parkland Championship 18 and Woodland Course. The Woodland lay-out, with tight tree-lined fairways, is spectacular in its flower displays and is carved through a forest of rhododendrons. The first hole on the Lakeland measures 409 yards. The ideal drive is to the left of thew fairway, leaving a mid iron to a small green that slopes from left to right. The second is a magnificent par five of 506 yards, with out of bounds down the right, two lakes and deep bunkers, two on the left of the fairway and two protecting the green. The 12th hole (third on the Parkland) is a fantastic par four, measuring 460 yards. A long drive is called for, but don't go left because a lake lies in wait - the same lake that has to be carried for the second shot to an undulating green protected by a deep bunker. The 13th is a 455-yard par four. The drive needs to carry two bunkers, on either side of the fairway, at 200 yards. Then comes a long second shot to an elevated green with a water hazard to the right and deep bunkers left and right.
Broadstone Golf Club
Par 70, 6,419 yards, parkland
Green fee £85, winter £48
Originally known as the Dorset Golf Club in 1898, it was designed by Tom Dunn and later modified by Harry Colt, Broadstone sits on heathland and also features plenty of mature trees, heather and gorse. There are great views of the Purbeck Hills and Poole Harbour. It may only run to 6,419 yards but it is a real test. The opening hole is a 490-yard par five that calls for a drive up the left side, with heather and a stream on the right, but beware the two fairway traps on the left. The second shot is over the stream to a green protected by two bunkers and surrounded by trees. The 422-yard seventh may be the best hole on the course. The drive should be aimed at the marker post to allow for the right to left slope of the fairway. The second shot is struck over a valley and cross bunkers to a green set in a bowl. The 12th is an uphill par four of 359 yards that features a lot of heather. Go left of centre for the best view of the green, which slopes from back to front - make sure you take enough club to get there, but try not to go beyond the flag or you will be left with a difficult putt. The final hole is 375 yards and the fairway slopes from right to left, so if you aim your drive slightly right it should finish up in the middle, leaving a short iron to a long green surrounded by bunkers left, right and behind.
Sherborne Golf Club
Par 72, 6,175 yards, parkland
Green fee £40
Sherborne lies on the Dorset-Somerset border. It is set on a hilltop and offers amazing views over Somerset and the Blackmore Vale. It has a chequered history, starting life as a nine-hole course before James Braid was called in to extend it to 18. During the second world war it was reduced to nine holes again - the clubhouse and club records were destroyed in a fire in 1955 and it was not until the 1960s that Sherborne was once again extended to 18 holes. The opening hole is a 407-yard par four played through an avenue of trees. The drive should favour the left half of the fairway to open up the approach to a well-guarded green that slopes from front to back. The sixth is a 500-yard par five with another drive through a tunnel of trees to a fairway which features a bunker on the left. The second shot requires thought as four cross bunkers protect the entrance to the long, narrow green. The 14th only measures 307 yards, but is am excellent little par four. Take time to enjoy the views before you focus on your tee shot. Play for position with a utility club or long iron and aim slightly right as the fairway slopes from right to left. The green is to the right and if your approach is short your ball will kick to the left - go long and it will disappear down the steep bank at the back. The 18th is a 355-yard par four. The drive is uphill, with out of bounds down the right. The green, which slopes from back to front, is protected by two deep bunkers on the right side and another on the left.
Yeovil Golf Club (Old Course)
Par 71, 6,087 yards, parkland
Green fee £40
There are two courses at Yeovil but the best is the Old Course, which is a parkland layout with spectacular views of Yeovil and the Dorset countryside. The second, a par three, is 154 yards long. Whatever else you do, don't go left because the bank will throw you your ball away from the hole. Ideally, you should aim to the right centre of the green, avoiding the deep bunker to the right of the putting surface. The sixth is a 377-yard dogleg, with disaster awaiting if you don't get it right. It is possible to carry the dogleg, but only if you are a big hitter. Otherwise, drive down the middle to the corner of the dogleg, leaving something in the region of a six iron to a small, well-guarded green. The 11th is a 522-yard par five that presents a tough challenge. There is out of bounds all the way down the left and a line of tall trees on the right that must be avoided. There is also a bunker on the right waiting to catch wayward tee shots. The second shot is straightforward enough, but the third is to a fairly small green with deep bunkers left and right. The closing hole is a 354-yard par four with another drive that looks intimidating, with trees right and left - but beyond them the fairway opens up somewhat. Favour the right side for the best angle to a long, narrow green with a deep, steep bunker about 30 yards short.
Knighton Heath Golf Club
Par 70, 6,065 yards, heathland
Green fee £38, winter £25
Knighton Heath is located within 90 acres, and lies next to the beautiful Canford Heath, and boasts some of the best greens in the south of England. It features a large practice and short-game area. The third is a stunning par three of 212 yards. You need to strike a long and accurate tee shot that has to be threaded through a gap in the trees to a narrow green that features plenty of undulations that will throw your ball away from the hole, especially if the flag is at the front. The ninth measures 461 yards and calls for a drive through an avenue of trees and over heather to the top of a hill. It is possible to reach the green in two but the problem is that you will face a blind shot to the green so make sure you get it on line. The 16th is a 448-yard par four. Once again, you need to strike the drive through the trees to a hogback fairway that tends to make the ball run off to the sides. The second shot needs to clear a fairway bunker short of the green and another to the right of the putting surface. There is also a heather-covered bank beside the green. The last hole only measures 161 yards and is much harder than it looks from the tee. It is normally played into the wind so make sure you have enough club to carry the front bunker. And don't go too far as trouble awaits at the back of the green.
Came Down Golf Club
Par 70, 6,255 yards, heathland
Green fee £40
Located on chalkland between Dorchester and Weymouth, Came Down was originally designed by JH Taylor, and was later updated by Harry Colt. The first hole is a par four measuring 435 yards. When you stand on the first tee take the time to enjoy the view of Dorchester, which gives the hole its name 'Casterbridge' taken from Thomas Hardy's name for Dorchester. It plays downhill with an approach to a green that slopes from front to back. The eighth is a stunning hole of 335 yards with a huge pit in the centre of the fairway, stretching to the left side. Big hitters will attempt to clear the pit and can get close to the green. Be careful not to go too far right because if you do it brings a large greenside bunker into play for your approach. The 12th is an outstanding par three that measures 197 yards. The green is set into a bank that slopes from left to right and is well protected by two front bunkers. Go too far right or too long and your ball will end up in some serious rubbish. The final hole is a terrific par four that measures 446 yards. The fairway runs from left to right, so think about where you want to place your drive. A pot bunker must be avoided before landing on a green that was reconstructed in 2004.