- Neil White
“We’ve been coming here 50 years,” said the old-timer after his group had teed off ahead of us and we wished them an enjoyable round.
What a joy. Five decades of playing Broadstone – a course which is so memorable it is difficult to imagine ever tiring of it.
My only previous experience of this great sport in Bournemouth was as a child – at the crazy golf of the Winter Gardens near Boscombe Pier and pitch and putt of Tuckton Bridge and Hengistbury Head.
I mused at how my proficiency on both forms of the game had helped the strategy around this top 100 course.
Well, certainly skill at pitching and putting is central to a good score at Broadstone.
Every hole sticks in the mind and requires a dead-eye short game to avoid deep bunkers and gorse and a hot putter on greens which have the subtlest of borrows.
And, yes, there is a bit of crazy golf too – in the shape of the controversial 7th hole, the like of which I have not previously encountered on my top 100 travels.
Broadstone is certainly not stuffy. We were happily accommodated for a round at the start of a long weekend golfing in Dorset and several people offered cheery greetings as we prepared to play.
No wonder the folk are happy – Broadstone puts a smile on the face from the first hole until the last.
The opener is a short par five which sets a pattern of tee shots over gorse before a decision is made about whether to clear a ditch and bunker to go for the green in two.
Being a cowardly golfer, I opted for a lay-up and chip and then discovered that the green was not quite as tame as it looked.
The 3rd is one of several holes with an elevated tee, giving a precursor to the amazing views at Broadstone.
It is a lovely-looking downhill par four which again needs carry before requiring an attack over quite a large pond.
The short fifth is a gem – bigger hitters than me will go for the green but I was pleased to belt my ball over the intimating array of bunkers in the middle of the fairway only for it to find its way into one on the right.
The sixth par three has a gorse valley in front of a green on the side of the hill. I was thrilled to find the dancefloor only to three-putt.
The 13th is a cracking par four – which bends from right to left with a hollow and a chasm of a bunker protecting the target. Well, it seemed ruddy enormous to me as I took two shots to extricate myself.
The 14th is probably my pick of the holes. Looking down on the fairway from the tee on a gorgeous summer afternoon, prompted echoes of the Algarve, thanks to the light sand in the many traps and the way the hole drops, ascends and curves.
I met the tamest of deer as I was preparing my opening to the 17th – another sublime hole which drops down to a green, protected by a ditch and bunkers.
I have reserved my thoughts on the 7th until last.
As I child in Bournemouth, I played lots of crazy golf and was taken to many comedy shows. I reckon before he designed this hole, Harry Colt must have done the same.
There is a sign before the tee which warns that neither of the fairways are visible when approaching them.
Neither? Yep. The first shot is over a gorse-riddled ridge on to even land but the second shot is the killer because if it is hit straight, the chances are that it will go into another layer of gorse because the slither of fairway is in a valley down to the left.
The green is on high, protected by the inevitable deep trap.
I could say that prior knowledge is a prerequisite to success but Mrs W would disagree. It is a par 5 for ladies, and she nailed a 50ft putt to claim glory.
So, yes, we loved Broadstone but there are a couple of slightly negative points worth mentioning. Namely, that the greens were surprisingly slow, presumably because of the deluge of rain we have had over the past month and some of the fairways were not as pristine as expected, probably for the same reason.
The 16th has suffered most and overseeding has taken place but I’m afraid the seagulls were enjoying the feast.
I thought the condition might have caused a rethink in the hefty £105 green fee although, to be fair, there are cheaper times to play than a Friday.
Nevertheless, Broadstone was a real pleasure.