Played by NCG: Ferndown

Courses and Travel

Mark Townsend spends a welcome and delightful afternoon at this spectacular and genteel Dorset heathland

Reason for a Ferndown course review

This was the third leg of a four-round trip and, coming on the afternoon of Moving/Go Backwards Day, where 36 holes are pencilled in and which began with a 6am coach trip, we were in need of something that was visually stimulating. Thank the lord for Ferndown.

Where is Ferndown?

Eight miles north of Bournemouth. From South London it is approximately 100 miles.

Ferndown 8th

What to expect

In short something special and, for me, the pick of any of the Dorset courses. It all depends what you’re after but if you enjoy a traditional course that looks like, and has, it’s sat there for over a hundred years then you’ll love it here. It was designed by two-time Open champion Harold Hilton and the club is synonymous with the Alliss family – Percy was the pro here for over 25 years so this is where Peter grew up playing. And explains why the nine-hole course is named after the legendary commentator.

But it is the Old Course which is the star attraction – we had it ranked at No 67 in our recent Top 100 in England.

We were here in June and the greens were out of this world. Every set of greens on the trip were tremendous but these really stood out and the look of them was amplified by the dazzling white sand that framed both the greens and fairways.

Visually it never gets dull. From the 1st tee to the final green there is something different to look at and with a handful of gentle doglegs there is enough strategy to keep you thinking.

People will point to the length being a shade under 6,500 yards – for some reason people seem to equate this with four hours of hitting wedge to every holes. You won’t, there is plenty of hitting to be done and three very juicy par 5s to make a mess of.

Favourite hole(s)

Three of the four par 3s are pretty stunning, for whatever reason (though not good play) the 14th sticks in the memory. If you can locate the par-5 7th fairway hitting a fairway wood into the green is good fun and my favourites would be any hole near the clubhouse. If I had to choose any hole it would probably be the 17th.

Ferndown 5th

My best bit

My golf was horrific on this trip but Ferndown was a welcome break from a series of Stableford low to mid 20s. At one stage I managed a run of, get this, four straight pars of which the highlight was at the Stroke Index 2 12th. And at the risk of boring you further it involved a soft-handed lob shot over sand.

Two holes later, on a par 5 with a shot, I hit four different trees en route to a momentum-stifling blob.

Ferndown course review: what to look for

When you’re on the 4th tee have a look at the 16th green and try and drink in the three-tiered green, pin position and almost unimaginable way to locate it with your driver from 300 yards away. And three hours later try and find yourself with a good angle to find the right tier with your approach – do NOT hit driver – otherwise you are in for a world of pain with the putter.

When I go back

This was my second time here over the years and I would probably set aside a day for two rounds or at least try the shorter Alliss Course. I like the whole feel of Ferndown, it’s a nice and gentle place to be and it’s very easy to see why old Peter loves the place so much.

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