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Visit Royal Ashdown Forest for a fantastic society day

September 21, 2014

Chris Murphy

Royal Ashdown Forest is one of the great heathland courses in the UK. It is a traditional members' club with two 18 hole courses, however unlike most members' clubs it actively encourages visitors and societies to come and play their wonderful courses, and it's within an hour from central London.

A view of the 1st and 18th tees at Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club
A view of the 1st and 18th tees at Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club

The Old course at Royal Ashdown is ranked in the top 100 courses in the British Isles, and the West, was voted the best course in the UK under 6,000 yards by Golf World magazine in 2013. Combine them and it is a perfect venue for a society day with some fantastic offers.

Describing Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club's Old Course in 1934, Bernard Darwin wrote "two salient facts come to mind. It is not quite like any other of my acquaintance, and secondly, I never knew anyone who played on it and was not fond of it."

View of the par 3 11th at Royal Ashdown Forest
View of the par 3 11th at Royal Ashdown Forest

Over 75 years later and little has changed. A course designed by nature yet still ranked as one of the top 100 courses in the British Isles. Famous for having no bunkers, its reputation as a true test of golf is undiminished thanks to uncontrived hazards of heather, narrow fairways, hollows and streams. Originally open heathland, trees from the forest have seeded, grown and matured to make accurate golf even more of a premium requirement as well as adding to its natural beauty.

The first time I played Royal Ashdown I only realised it had no bunkers when I was informed in the changing rooms after the round, it is such a great course I did not even notice.

The par 5 8th green at Royal Ashdown Forest
The par 5 8th green at Royal Ashdown Forest

By comparison with some modern developments the course could be considered short, yet because of the exacting challenge it presents to even the best golfers, the Old Course has been selected by the R&A as an Open Championship Regional Qualifying venue. That says a lot about the place.

There are some fantastic holes on the Old course, to be honest I think they are all fantastic, but none more memorable then the 249 yard par 3 11th. Standing on the tee you get a beautiful and dramatic view of the North Downs and you almost forget you have to play it. The golf course makes you think which I always think is a good thing, it is just seriously enjoyable to play.

A view of the 18th hole at Royal Ashdown Forest
A view of the 18th hole at Royal Ashdown Forest

The West Course is open to golfers and societies of all handicaps. Its attraction is that tee time availability, even at weekends, is rarely a problem and there are a number of attractive promotional green fees on offer. Three and four balls and societies are all welcome even at weekends.

Even though it is under 6,000 yards the West has some fantastic holes as well. If you are having a tight game the par 4 18th will set up a grandstand finish. I think it is the most demanding hole on the course with players needing to be long and accurate off the tee, and have to cross the stream twice to reach the green in regulation.

View of the West course at Royal Ashdown Forest
View of the West course at Royal Ashdown Forest

It is rare you can visit and play such a prestigious club like Royal Ashdown with such ease. It is a great place for a society day and you could not find two more perfect courses for it. You will really enjoy the demanding test of the Old course and there is no better place to walk off your lunch then on the West, being not as long.

The quality of the courses, the reputation of the dining rooms and the friendly ambience of the Club, makes it a favourite venue for Old Boys' matches, society days and corporate events. What the club also makes sure when you book a society is that there is someone friendly there to meet you in the morning and help you out, this is not something you get at most golf clubs and is a great touch.

The Club especially welcomes enquiries from organisers who are seeking a venue that can provide two 18-hole courses for golfers to play in one day. What are you waiting for, get down to Royal Ashdown for the perfect society day.

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