Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel Country Club Arden Course Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Mel Davies
The Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club features two top class courses - the Arden and Aylesford. The club is located on 10,000 acres in the heart of the Midlands, surrounded by ancient woodlands, natural lakes, and varieties of wildlife, including the famous deer that live in the majestic countryside setting. Located a short drive from Coventry with the M6, M42 and Birmingham Airport/Train Station all in very close proximity, this is a venue that is easily accessible.
This was my third time playing the Arden Course and it is one of my personal favourites so to return here ahead of the European Tour's English Open was something I was really looking forward to. Unfortunately, with social distancing restrictions in place, the driving range was only open for lessons, but I was able to hit some chips and bunker shots on the great short game area. We then headed to the well-stocked Pro Shop with plenty of great gear and logoed products to remind you (and your mates) where you have been. The Hotel was back open as was the bar and grill. This truly is a great venue for all golfers as it offers all you would need for a golf day/overnight stay. From the outside of the shop you can see the "FOREST OF ARDEN" in flowers below the iconic 18th tee. This really gets the juices flowing for what lies ahead.
Front 9 Overview
The front 9 is the easier, shorter, and slightly more forgiving half but still has plenty of danger awaiting, especially as water comes into play on six holes in one way or another. The 1st hole is all about avoiding the well-placed bunkers and if managed a par should be the target. Good tee shots on the 2nd and 3rd (first par 5) can set you up for birdie opportunities. The 4th is one of my favourite holes, a 90 degree dogleg to the right requires a straight tee shot to the corner to leave a short iron to a shallow green protected by a bunker right and water in front.
The 5th is the first par 3 and even if the green is found with the tee shot a par is not a given as the green is saddle like with barely a straight putt on it. The 6th is a tough par 4 and is only 30 yards (yellows) shorter than the par 5 7th so par here is a great score. The 7th as I said is a relatively short par 5 and a real eagle/birdie opportunity. The 8th for me is the start of the best stretch of holes to any course. A great par 3 all over water with a mid-iron that has water waiting short and left. You then head over to the 9th which is a hole that was once described by Colin Montgomerie as the best driving hole on the European Tour, and you can see why as it requires a gentle fade over the water and plays uphill to a great green with bunkers short left and right. I would take par here every day of the week. A great finish to the front 9.
Back 9 Overview
The back 9 starts with a great driving hole that needs a well hit drive to enable you to reach the green that sits up on the bank with two bunkers guarding, end up in one of these and a par will be tough to achieve. The 11th is a short par 4 that can be a real birdie chance, while the 12th mirrors the other par 5 on the back 9, the 17th, in that both can be reached in two by the long hitters offering up eagles and birdies, but anything short will meet a watery grave, as we witnessed by the numerous balls just short of the greens sat in the lake!
The 13th and 14th are two tough par 4s that need solid drives to offer the opportunity of hitting greens with bunkers awaiting anything not on target. The 15th is the first par 3 that again sits on the bank and requires a well hit mid-long iron to find a shallow green, with bunkers and a run off catching anything coming up short. The 16th is another of my personal favourite holes, again it's another 90 degree dogleg right but longer hitters can cut the corner to leave a much shorter approach to another shallow green that has a pond in front/left for any slightly under hit approach.
Finally, the iconic par 3 18th, a hole that will send shivers down many a player. You'll hit a long iron over the ravine to the green perched in front of the hotel, which is truly a great finish to a fantastic layout. Par or even a birdie here will give you bragging rights over many others!
Yet again this course didn’t disappoint. Fairways were lush, rough was tough and gnarly, bunkers looked and played great and the greens rolled superbly. I don’t feel there is a weak hole on the course and it rewards good play and punishes poor golf which to be honest is what it's all about. The food was good with a great choice on offer. Various drinks on offer in the relaxed bar and grill.
After playing the Arden, we ventured across to the shorter, less challenging Aylseford Course. My fellow Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook - who was part of our group - describes this layout for us.
"The Aylseford at Forest of Arden is a shorter test that compliments the Arden Course very well for those looking for a good stay and play option with two different courses.
"Measuring just 5,580 yards from the yellow tees, this course still poses a threat that designer Donald Steel clearly thought through using the natural surroundings.
"Whilst short in length, a premium will be on accuracy from the tee and making sure you are putting yourself in the best position possible. Driver may not always be the best option. The majority of the course is fairly open so can also play a lot tougher than you may expect.
"The 5th hole will tempt longer hitters from the tee at only 257 yards but any miss to the right will be a reload, and it's a similar story on the 7th and 8th holes.
"The 10th is a fantastic short secluded par 3 where the biggest defence is the undulating green before a tougher test on the longer 14th and 15th. The nice par 5 finish is a challenge to get to in two but definitely worth a crack if you get the chance."
With the European Tour returning after many years, the course looked great and the rough was penalising which is to be expected and offers the course great protection. The wetter the weather the tougher the course will play as you won't get the run out and any balls not on the fairway will be snagged up and make an already long course longer, but that's the challenge, hitting fairways and greens, exactly what Forest of Arden demands of you.
Overall Rating - 9
Course (Conditions) - 10
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10
Course (Green Condition) - 10
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 9
Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 9
Practice Facilities - 9
Friendliness/Hospitality - 9
Pace of Play - 9
Value for Money - 9
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|Marriott Forest of Arden Golf Club
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