Swinley Forest

Swinley Forest

Swinley Forest Golf Club

Swinley Forest Golf Club | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

In this modern day and age Swinley Forest provides a scorecard indicating par. This is perhaps the only concession that has been made by the club in the years that have gone by since the 1960s. 

Such is the atmosphere and flavour of a special golf course that may be without exact parallel anywhere in the world, let alone within Britain. 

It is a private club and there is a sign outside the property advertising its presence to the outside world. But since it is roughly the size of an envelope, you can safely assume there are no two-for-one offers open to the passing golfer while immediate vacancies for five-day memberships have yet to arise.
In terms of character, it has much in common with the likes of nearby Sunningdale, Wentworth’s East Course and The Berkshire.

Much of Swinley lies on what is called Crown land, which means the club pays an annual lease. As this figure has risen steeply in the last 20 years, so has Swinley been forced to consider its economics more carefully. Accordingly, subscription fees and a tiny membership have both risen, with visitors a much more common sight than they used to be.

Visit Swinley Forest's website here.
Go back to the NCG Top 100s Homepage.

A Brief History of Swinley Forest Golf Club

Swinley Forest Golf Club was founded in 1909. The club commissioned renowned golf course architect Harry Colt to design the course. The club officially opened in 1910, with a course consisting of 18 holes. Swinley Forest's design was unique for its time, as it emphasised strategy and shot placement over brute force. 

The club has maintained its exclusive and prestigious status throughout the years. It is known for its challenging, strategic layout and pristine, natural surroundings. 

Swinley Forest Golf Club Review | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

Once the imposing wrought-iron gates have slid back and you arrive on the property, it is almost impossible to imagine you could be within 20 miles of one of the world’s largest cities. Yet Swinley, just outside Ascot on the Berkshire side of the border with Surrey, is within but a few decent par fives of Heathrow.
Listen carefully when you reach the far end of the course and you can hear the distant hum of traffic on the several arterial roads nearby. But Swinley itself is an implausibly quiet place. On the Sunday afternoon of our visit the course was empty.
To qualify that, we did catch a glimpse of one two-ball, several holes ahead. And this, by all accounts, is an entirely typical weekend scene. Never mind scoring or competing, it feels as though even playing a round constitutes taking the game a little too seriously here.
Perhaps those members lucky enough to have spent most of their lives playing here become a little blasé, but for us each game here is a marvel.
Heathland in nature, the turf is firm and springy. Heather, trees and sometimes Rhododendron bushes flank the holes. Hilly in places but never exceptionally so, it offers a quintessentially British equivalent of Augusta National. Needless to say for a course that considers itself excessively busy if 50 golfers play on the same day, the conditioning is impeccable. Harry Colt, long-time secretary at Sunningdale, designed Swinley Forest back in 1909 and described it as “the least bad course” he had ever built.
Since then the club have proudly left well alone, although Lieutenant Colonel Ian Pearce, the secretary, has added a few bunkers and even a pond during his tenure. As such it measures just 6,062 yards from the back tees, although it must be taken into account there are only two par fives against five par threes. And with five of the par fours measuring over 400 yards it’s hardly a pushover. But that’s hardly the point. More importantly, each hole is aesthetically a delight, particularly the quintet of short holes.

From the redoubtable 10th, at 205 yards, through the stunning 13th, played downhill to a green framed by sand and trees, to the point-to-point 17th, only 170 yards in length yet its raised green surrounded by trouble and arguably harder to find with a recovery chip than a mid-iron from the tee.
Not to mention the glorious 4th, uphill all the way and with the large green defended by a steep-faced bunker on the left and the ubiquitous heather elsewhere. Two other holes particularly stand out, and both require drives of the highest calibre, preferably ones shaped from right to left.
The 9th involves a tee shot into a valley. The further right it is, the longer the second shot to a green at the top of the hill; the tighter it flies down the left the more the chance of the second being blind or even blocked out. The 12th is even better. This s-shaped double dogleg is a par five to most because unless the drive turns left in the air to follow the angle of the fairway, the well-struck shot will run though it into a bunker.
The difficulties of the approach – apart from its length – are determined simply by the contours of the land that dictate anything falling short or right is rejected. It is a wonderfully strong and imposing hole.

What are the Swinley Forest green fees?

Swinley Forest is a private members-only club with no listed green fees, however there are some opportunities for non-members/visitors to play with separate bookings by prior arrangement.

Where is Swinley Forest located?

Swinley Forest is situated in Berkshire, just a few miles down the road from the town of Ascot.

It is a region known for its natural beauty, historic sites, and cultural attractions. One of the most famous castles in the world, Windsor Castle is just a short drive from Swinley Forest.

Swinley Forest itself is part of Bracknell Forest, which offers various outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and picnicking.

These points of interest offer a variety of experiences, from historical and cultural sites to outdoor activities and family-friendly attractions, making the area around Swinley Forest a diverse and engaging destination for visitors.

Swinley Forest sits just 16 miles from London Heathrow Airport, which is perfect for international visitors who want to come to the United Kingdom and play the course.

Visit Swinley Forest's website here.
Go back to the NCG Top 100s Homepage.