- Neil White
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
Sunlight reflected from the purple haze of Sherwood Forest, the starter announced me on the tee and memories of my best ever nine holes, inspired a wallop down the middle of the first.
Alas, I must have been in ecstatic reverie and missed when he told us that the red flags denoted the BACK of the green. Thus, my chip was 20 yards short and a one-point five was recorded.
Yep, here, unusually, blue flags are at the front of the green and red is at the back with yellow in the middle. Definitely worth remembering.
Fortunately, our opening lapse did not set the tone and we took advantage of benign conditions and prevailing wind to score well early on at the Sherwood Forest Mixed Open.
This was mainly because we adhered to the starter's tip of resisting big-hitting and concentrated on staying on the fairways.
However, we were caught out a couple of times on the downhill par threes with both the 4th and 7th proving much trickier than they looked due, in the first instance to a fiendish pin position just behind a bunker and in the second because of sand-trap protection nearly all around the green.
We found Sherwood Forest's greens easier to read than many of those at England's top 100 courses, offering few surprises. Consequently, the par-five fifth, which has a deep dip in the middle of the fairway and iridescent heather on both sides, yielded a birdie to my safety-first golf.
Heather is the trademark of the course and, although not as deep or dense as that in Surrey or even nearby Hollinwell. Consequently, balls were found and a pitching wedge (the club for all heather!) found safety.
Back on the course, the second nine is such a different proposition to the first that the last time I played it I scored 12 points against 24 in the opening half.
The difference wasn't as pronounced this time but points were much harder to find.
This is true of both pars 3s (the 10th and 15th) which I failed to reach with a driver because the breeze had by now strengthened considerably and was against us. We had brief respite on the long downhill 11th which has a tough blind tee shot.
Thereafter, every hole was into the teeth of the wind - among them the fiendish 12th and 14th - the respective third and first hardest holes.
If I were to have a criticism of Sherwood Forest it is that the stretch of 12 to 14 are a bit samey - precise and long drives needed over heather before another heave or even a heave and a wedge.
However, the final stretch is a more beguiling proposition, including a relatively short par five, a dogleg which rewards accuracy and a sweep towards the clubhouse which is deceptively long as it rises and dips and rises again.
It was a shame that those last few holes were played in driving rain but their beauty was still evident and they left a glowing memory.
Indeed, even as we trooped off sopping wet, we all agreed that Sherwood Forest would be well worth revisiting.