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  • Neil White

Royal Ashdown Forest (Old)

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

"Hold on a minute, it's going in!". My playing partner was as shocked as he was excited that I had unfurled a drive which was threatening the cup on Royal Ashdown Forest's 249-yard, par-three 11th hole.

After a promising start, the heavens opened and I had been on a run of just two Stableford points in five holes.

Fortunately, by the time we had arrived at the longest par three I have ever played, the sun was re-emerging as was my golf game. Inevitably, however, I missed the six-foot putt which would have yielded a birdie.

Thankfully, I put that right by taking a two on the par-three 14 which was a 175-yard carry over heather.

The h-word is uttered dozens of times during a round at Royal Ashdown Forest. The thick purple shrubbery provides the course's major defence, given that there are no bunkers.

The short ninth, is actually called Heather, so my ball thought it would be appropriate to dive into its pretty but ruinous hazard.

Recently having been in bunkers as big as houses at Woodhall Spa and visited many of the 99 at Little Aston, I thought it would be a refreshing change to play 18 holes without any.

However, I had been warned that few of us in the Press Golf Society would score well around the Old Course and so it proved - 36 points was the winning tally.

Yes, this is a tough course- it includes a 472-yard par four which is its stroke index eight!

It demands accuracy but it is also beautiful. There are magnificent views and every hole has very different challenges but looks stunning from the tee.

Among my favourites was the par-five 12th (called Dogs' Graveyard), even though picking a line through the heather takes a greater player than me.

Meanwhile, almost all had greens whose lines and pace were so subtle that they remained unconquered.

Nevertheless, this is a superb heathland course and deserving of the praise it receives.

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