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Swinley Forest, UK

Swinley Forest (1909)

Swinley Forest is located close to some of the famous golf courses (Sunningdale & Wentworth) but a very different experience overall. Swinley doesnt have an official website, so it took some time to get a tee time. In one way very old fashioned, but somehow it is part of the whole experience of going to Swinley Forest. When we visited in it was a very quiet day, which I somehow got the feeling was pretty much the case most days. The ladies had just teed off and we walked around the clubhouse and sat down for lunch outside. Only 2 other golfers teed off in the next couple of hours, which also meant that our entire round felt liked we were there on our own. Everybody was very friendly and welcoming, which only made the whole experience even better.

Entrance to the clubhouse.
Entrance to the clubhouse.
View from first floor dining area in the clubhouse.
View from first floor dining area in the clubhouse.
View from 1st floor terrace overlooking the putting green, 1st and 18th hole.
View from 1st floor terrace overlooking the putting green, 1st and 18th hole.
Eggs benedict and reading up on the course
Eggs benedict and reading up on the course. Best Eggs benedict I have had in a UK golf club.

It is a relatively short course by todays standards and we decided to play for the back tees. It’s a par 68 and just over 6000 yards from the back tee.

Hole 1, Par 4, 332m
Hole 1, Par 4, 332m

1st hole on Swinley which has a reasonably wide fairway and slightly uphill to the green on your second. A nice opening hole, where I managed to hit the fairway and came up just short of the green on the second shot. Up and down for a par.

Hole 2, Par 4, 325m
Hole 2, Par 4, 325m

2nd hole on Swinley has a blind tee shot, but is relatively short so you don’t need to hit driver. I hit a driver and had a wedge to green, which I missed severely to the right which resulted in a well-deserved bogey after a poor second shot.

Approach to green on 2nd hole
Approach to green on 2nd hole
Hole 4, Par 3, 156m
Hole 4, Par 3, 156m

4th hole a beautiful par 3 protected by bunkers and with the pin position close to the front edge on the right it played difficult. Missed my first shot pin high on the semirough around the green. Didn’t managed to get up and down, so another bogey.

Hole 5, Par 5, 438m
Hole 5, Par 5, 438m

5th hole and the only par 5 on the course. Fairway view above and an wide fairway. Missed my drive to the right of the bunkers but had a good lie. Took a bad decision to go for the green in 2, but missed in right and got a rough lie. Long on the 3rd shot and ended up with a bogey 6. Bad score, bad shot and bad course management.

Hole 7, Par 4, 359m
Hole 7, Par 4, 359m

7th hole a par 5 uphill, where you I hit my drive up just short of the mounts crossing the fairway. Second shot is almost an uphill blind shot and you need to try your yardage.

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7th green with the large rhododendrons behind the green. We played in june and I can imagine that they would have looked even more beautiful a month earlier. Generally there is many rhododendrons throughout the course and that really gives it character. I came up just short of the green and didn’t manage to get up and down – bogey.

Hole 8, Par 3, 128m
Hole 8, Par 3, 128m

Par 3 8th where you can see the severe slope on the right and also sloping away in front of the green. Best place is obviously on the green, but otherwise short is the place to be. I hit my shot on the green and got a par.

Hole 9, Par 4, 372m
Hole 9, Par 4, 372m

Par 4 9th a dogleft left to and one of the longest on the course. The second shot is a difficult uphill. I hit the fairway and a really good second shot which I converted to a birdie.

rain

Walking up the 9th it started raining heavily and we took shelter at the halfway house. Good timing for a quick lunch break. Rain was over in 15 minutes and we could continue.

Hole 12, Par 4, 393m
Hole 12, Par 4, 393m

Tee shot on the long par 4 12th hole.

Approach shot to the 12th hole. Almost enclosed green surrounded by the beautiful rhododendrons.
Approach shot to the 12th hole. Almost enclosed green surrounded by the beautiful rhododendrons.
Hole 13, Par 3, 152m
Hole 13, Par 3, 152m

13th par 3 with bunkers in front. My fellow golfer and I both hit very nice 5 irons close to the pin. I got my birdie…yes…

Hole 14, Par 4, 323m
Hole 14, Par 4, 323m

14th par 4 – fairway, green and 2 putts for a par.

Hole 15, Par 4, 395m
Hole 15, Par 4, 395m

Par 4 15th we an elevated green with severe runoff in the front

15th green where you get an idea of how important it is to hit the right part of the green. I managed to get a par, which was very satisfying on this tricky hole
15th green where you get an idea of how important it is to hit the right part of the green. I managed to get a par, which was very satisfying on this tricky hole
Hole 17, Par 3, 155m
Hole 17, Par 3, 155m

Par 3 17th where the green is well protected by bunkers and elevated. Puts pressure on the tee shot being spot on, which I didn’t manage to do. Hit in the bunker left and got a bogey.

Hole 18, Par 4, 311m
Hole 18, Par 4, 311m

Par 4 18th with the clubhouse in the background. There is a water hazard running across the fairway that you preferably need to carry to leave a short shot to the green. I hit the fairway and green, but 3 putted for a bogey – bad way to finish a nice day of golf.

Clubhouse view from the 18th green
Clubhouse view from the 18th green

The course was a very good shape, even though the greens were running rather slowly and it looked like they hadn’t been cut recently. The greens are good, but not 100% perfect and true. I shot 77 on a par 68, which I was happy with. It is a course I would like to play again, especially if the greens where running a bit faster as it would be even more challenging and rewarding at the same time.

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