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The Experience of Playing Swinley Forest Golf Club

By: Kevin Heggie | Fri 24 Jul 2020

Situated near Ascot in Berkshire, Swinley Forest is widely considered to be be one of the finest layouts in England, designed by the legendary Harry Colt. Having long been among the most private clubs in the country, visitors can experience this venue for themselves, with Golfshake Ambassador Kevin Heggie fortunate to be among them. Kevin describes the opportunity of playing Swinley Forest.

As you drive through a relatively innocuous side road, it’s hard to believe you’re about to play a course which features in both UK and World top 100s, but as the electronic gates open, you are immediately hit with a ‘wow’ moment - to the left you are met with an amazing vista of the 1st and 18th hole set amongst towering pines, and to the right one of the prettiest clubhouses you could imagine - what an introduction to one of the best golf courses in the country!

After a tasty breakfast bap on the patio and a few warm up putts you’re teeing off on a track which its architect, Harry Colt described as his “least bad course”. The heathland course, first opened in 1909, isn’t long by modern standards (we played the white tee option at 5,900 yards) but it is also only a par 69. Additionally, due to elevation changes the reality is that a number of the holes play a lot longer, and will provide the opportunity to use every club in your bag, with the green complexes providing additional teeth with subtle slopes and borrows.  

(Highly Recommended on Golfshake)

My highlight on the front was the stretch from 3-5, with picture postcard holes covering a short par 4 framed by firs and heather, a mid-length par 3 into an elevated green, and a fun, reachable par 5 which sweeps down through bunkers towards a severe back-to-front sloping green.  

The highlights on the back nine would be the 12th, a tough par 4 with a green full of humps and hollows, the 13th which is a stunning short par 3 with danger lurking everywhere, and the 18th, which sweeps back up towards the clubhouse. 

(Designed by Harry Colt)

Overall, the quality of the design meant that every hole was a joy to play and offered a consistent challenge (especially the five exceptional par 3s), and the condition of the course and greens were impeccable (although a little slower than they looked). It is also highly likely that it will feel like you’ve got the course to yourself, so pace of play should not be a concern as you wander your way through this expansive golfing paradise.

As is typical with a Colt design, it is also accessible to players of all standards - the more adept golfer will enjoy the challenge of taking on the bunkers and doglegs, whilst the average golfer will still enjoy the challenge of plotting their way round and trying to keep the ball out of the consuming heather and deep fairway and greenside bunkers.

(Among England's Best)

All things considered, I can only recommend that people take the chance to cross Swinley Forest off their golfing bucket list as soon as possible. Whilst it obviously comes with a relatively steep green fee, it really is a course which delights at every turn, and one you wish you could play time and again, and is further complemented by the charming clubhouse offering high quality food and views to die for. 

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