Forest of Arden: Fearsome or Friendly?

The Marriott Forest of Arden course in Birmingham used to be a regular European Tour venue and so reader Pete Joyner was a little nervous about what he would find when he entered the Forest….

For a mid-handicapper there are few more frightening descriptions of a course than a ‘tough challenge.’ As we all tend to know from bitter experience you need to be on top of your game to compete with, and hopefully beat, your golfing partners – especially if you’re giving them shots on every other hole.

So, it was with a degree of trepidation that I approached the Forest of Arden Course. After doing my research online beforehand, words like ‘tough’, ‘challenge’ and ‘long’ featured heavily.

12th hole at The Marriott Forest of Arden
Hole #12 at Marriott Forest of Arden

The front nine turned out to be a bit of a surprise. While there is clearly some danger it wasn’t as fearsome as I’d expected.

I suspect this is because in my own mind, I’d imagined this part of the course to have been tighter and more punishing – especially with five of the nine holes featuring water.

No trial by iron on front nine
Perhaps it seemed easier because of the fairly generous fairways and the fact that this part of the course is set up to reward straight-ish drives and solid golf, rather than making every shot a trial by iron.

This doesn’t mean it was a walk in the park, but for a championship course mid-range handicappers have a chance of putting in a good score over the first half of their round – if they can avoid going in the drink.

In terms of the holes on the front nine, the par-four 4th, 6th and 9th are were the most interesting, requiring well thought out golf shots into tough greens.

The back nine was a completely different proposition.

Immediately this felt like a different course. We were in mature parkland, swapping water for long rough and cleverly thought out holes bringing natural features in to play to keep you honest.

Fearsome or Friendly? Forest of Arden review by Pete Joyner
Part friendly part fearsome says reader Pete Joyner

It’s also considerable tougher that the front nine with ponds, narrow approach shots and natural contours coming into play, making you think about every shot carefully.

All of the holes on this part of the course offered an interesting challenge, so it’s hard to pick out the stand-out hole out, but the 12th, 16th and 17th, all with tricky approach shots, give any level of golfer pause for thought.

Also, the layout of this part of the course means you hardly come into contact with people playing the other holes, a real bonus on what is clearly a popular and busy course.

“Course of two halves”
On reflection, and having chatted to the guys I played with, we found ourselves coming to the conclusion that this was a course of two halves – if you’ll excuse the mixed footballing/golfing metaphor.

To sum it up, the front nine is a good challenge for a broad range of abilities, but ultimately just a very good quality hotel course. The back nine was very different and a real treat, with rolling mature parkland, interesting holes and a tough challenge that requires careful shot selection as well as distance and accuracy.

Finally, a note about the condition of the course.

Rain resistant
We went in the middle of July when parts of the UK had a month’s worth of rain in a day. Despite this the golf team ensured we got out, and while the fairways were clearly very wet (standing water on the first day), the greens were still in great condition.

So, whether you’re a high, mid or low handicapper, The Forest of Arden genuinely offers a golfing challenge for everyone.

For more: Marriott Forest of Arden

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