By Rob Smith published
Bramshaw Golf Club Forest Course Review
GF £30wd, £35we
Par 69, 5,757 yards
GM Verdict A delightful, sporty and totally natural course set deep in the heart of nature
Favourite Hole The short par-4 9th with its beautifully-sited green protected by the serpentine Kings Garn brook
It is believed that the Forest Course at Bramshaw Golf Club is the oldest course in Hampshire. While still a 9-holer in the 1890s, an alliance was formed with a similar design at Lyndhurst creating an 18-hole course with the two nines about 5 miles apart! The Forest Course was extended the following decade, and when you play it now, it is easy to feel as though you have stepped back in time as very little has changed.
The course is situated about 500 yards up the road from the clubhouse and the Bell Inn. It starts with a tough par 4 that plays left to right and calls for an elevated approach over one of the abundant life-giving and ball-taking streams.
Next comes a longish par 3 with a surprisingly high stroke index, 14, all carry to a green that slopes upwards away from you.
The 3rd is a drive and pitch up to an elevated green, before another long par 3 at the 4th which sets you en route proper out into the wilds.
There is a blind approach down to the stream-protected green at the 6th, a lovely three-shotter that can be reached but is full of risk. The short 8th is even more unusual as you can only see the top of the flag despite it being downhill. Distance is vital as the King’s Garn runs just behind the green.
The front nine climaxes with a cracking short par 4 - a hybrid up the middle before a short-iron into the green with the stream now more in play than anywhere else. This is a real beauty.
A par 5 and a super-tough par 4 take you away from and then back to the stream, before a delightful tiddler down the hill to the only sand-protected green on the course. The approach to the 13th is over a deep gully, the 14th requires a longish approach, and the 15th is actually a new hole; a risk/reward short par 4.
The 17th is a lovely little short hole where yet again you must not come up short.
Leaving the 17th green, you come to the final hole, another very tempting short par 4 where the bold and the foolhardy will need to wait for the green to clear. An exciting end to a hugely enjoyable round.
It would be easy to expect a course called Forest to be tree-lined, but this is certainly far from the case here. There is a plenty of room off the tee, and scoring well is all about the approach and holing out. Hampshire has many lovely courses, and this is up there with the most attractive. Just minutes away is Paultons Golf Centre, a part of the same golfing group, as is the Bell Inn at Bramshaw which makes for the perfect base to play here.
A round here offers exceptional value for what is an engaging course in a delightfully rural location where you are accompanied at times by horses and cattle, and even pigs. Along with the accompanying Manor Course, just a Bryson DeChambeau drive down the road, this is very much recommended!
Rob Smith has been playing golf for over 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played well over 1,100 courses in almost 50 countries. Since travel restarted in May 2021, he has played around 80 different courses, more than 40 for the first time. This includes 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of his main roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but 10. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at email@example.com
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