The Forest of Arden is a set amidst the trout lakes of Lord Aylesfordís vast 10,000-acre estate at Packington Park.Founded in 1970 and designed by Donald Steel, the Arden course was a regular European Tour venue and has hosted the British Masters and the English Open.
Despite the fact that the Arden is a modern course, Steel has blended the layout nicely into the natural landscape. The majestic oaks, especially prevalent on the back nine, make the layout seem much more mature than it really is. The Ardenís challenge is significant, especially from the back tees Ė 7,134 yards. But even from the regular yellow tees, the course measures a healthy 6,500 yards.
This is a quality course, set in very pleasant surroundings. It can sometimes feel a lot longer than its advertised yardage because the ground, especially in the winter, becomes soft. The rough can be extremely trying; itís invariably lush and thick, making recovery shots very tough indeed. In terms of conditioning, the Arden is usually maintained immaculately from tee to green. If you are fortunate enough to play the course prior to, or just after, a European Tour event, you are in for an absolute treat.
Opening gently with two short par fours, itís not long before the Ardenís real test begins. The sequence of holes from the 6th through to the 9th is superb. The 8th is a wonderful short par three, where the green is guarded by water on two sides. The back nine is the most memorable, not only for the ancient oak trees, but also for the closing two holes, which are technically excellent and very exciting.The 17th is a par five where a bunker to the left and a lake to the right jealously guard the green.Only the crispest of approach shots will find the putting surface. Beware of the closing hole. Itís an intimidating par three, requiring a 200-yard carry across a lake!
Itís always delightful to play a championship course of the pedigree of the Forest of Arden, but itís especially pleasing when the service and the facilities are this good.
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Average Reviewers Score:
With all due respect to 4 or 5 decent holes on the back nine, this is overrated, expensive, uninteresting and not worth the effort.
A course planner and thirty range balls was £10. I was tempted to ask if the planner was gold-plated! The front nine is muddy, has a fine view of a motorway, and consists of 8 average to bad holes, and one decent hole, the ninth. There are some good holes coming in, but 48 hours on, I can only remember 4 of them. A terrible indictment of the layout.
Whilst the fairways were ok, the greens were chewed to bits, and the whole set up is so arrogant that our event with 60 people in threeballs, was put out behind 6 fourballs, and thus took upwards of 5 hours. Utter arrogant disdain for customers.
Spend your money elsewhere, I would suggest.
Played here in torrential rain last October but was shocked at how good the condition of the course was! Super quick greens even after all the rain fall and some wonderful holes too especially on the back 9! A modern classic and you can understand why this was a favourite for the pros while the British Masters was here! The back 9 in particular is amazing with the 12th 17th and 18th the standout holes with the finishing hole been a breathtaking 200 yard carry over a lake to the distant green with the hotel in the background. Courses like this and the Woburn Marquess need tournaments like the British Masters and English Open back quickly.
Cracking golf course! A wonderful layout and some fantastic holes which led to numerous European Tour Events being held here! Super slick greens, plenty of water and a wonderful Par 3 18th hole where you hit over a huge lake. Well worth a visit rivalling its Midlands neighbour The Belfry
It has been a few years since my last visit to the course and my opinion remains the same really. We have here a decent hotel course with some good holes and quite a few plain holes that fail to get me excited. The plus points are that conditioning is of a high standard and the welcome from the staff is perfect. The front nine is the weaker with the par-4 9th being the pick of the bunch, this is a tough hole, especially the tee shot. The best holes are on the back nine and it is the two par-5ís; the 12th and the 17th that are my choices Ė both have great greens and water to carry on the approach. My rating for the course may seem low but if I was rating the whole experience of the stay and play option I would go higher as this is a popular place for groups and there is a second course too.
The Arden, like the Brabazon, is a famous hotspot for golfers in the Midlands as it has hosted professional events. The condition is normally superb with great fairways and greens. It can be lengthened to a huge length and to be fair to them they will let you play off the back markers. The main issue is the inconsistencies of the two 9s. The front 9 is not a patch of the back in design and general interest. It starts with two par 4's and then a 5, which are not really that interesting and it doesnít get a great seal better until the 9th which is excellent. The back 9 though is excellent. Not a bad hole really, every hole is very challenging and extremely pretty with trouble everywhere. The deer are a lovely touch. The back 9 is worth the trip alone.
We played the arden course 31st May 2011 in the afternoon sunshine. The course was in superb condition, both to look at and play on. Our 4 ball comprised 17,18,27 and 28 handicappers. The course was a good test without being too tough, I only admitted defeat on the 18th having lost two balls from the tee.
People shouldnt judge a course on whether or not its owned by a particular hotel or whatever , they should judge it on how it plays and how enjoyable it is.
It plays lovely and was most enjoyable
Food in the zest bar afterwards tasty and reasonably priced; Staff friendly, one of my best days out golfing ever, 5 or 6 real wow holes , and only a couple where the shorter hitter is struggling, would recommend above other similar courses without hesitation
How do you rate a course? Quality of the course, condition of the course, setting, Clubhouse, speed of play etc it is all a very individual perception; so here is mine. Firstly for me here are the negatives. FoA does not have the soul of a golf club because of the fact it is a hotel and play is slow (a 5 hour round so be careful how late your tee time is) as it is a venue that just fills the course with players of all ability to generate income. Secondly the bit in the middle. Hoes 1-9 and 18 are all very well designed golf holes requiring you to think your way round but are not brilliant; they are just good golf holes. In comparison they are as good as any at the Belfry and I prefer them to the Oxfordshire as at least they are defined by trees and hedgerow. Finally the great bits holes 10 -17 are truly excellent golf holes and a real test, excellent use of the land and also the building of a few ponds to guard the greens. In my opinion 8 holes that rival any I have played for their design beautiful surroundings and golfing challenge. Also considering the amount of play even in mid Oct the course was in brilliant condition. My final plus point Ė price - £99 quid for DBB and a round of the Arden and Aylesford is just ridiculously cheap and puts other modern venues (Oxfordshire, Belfry, The Grove etc) to shame. All in all a great experience and it should be easily in the Top 100 (swap it with the Belfry). Go and try it and accept it for what it is and you will enjoy it; oh and take your long game!
Very good honest review. I played Forest of Arden last year and I fully endorse your sentiments. I too compared my experience with the Belfry, preferring the Forest of Arden by a great margin.
Played the championship course last weekend. It was in good condition despite the volume of golf played and the lack of rain that is starting to dry out courses in southern England. Greens were in great condition and very fast. The front 9 is decent, but considerably weaker than the back 9, which were fantastic. It was like playing two different courses. Recommendable.
I'm really not a fan of hotel courses, and so I had low expectations of the Marriot Forest of Arden. However i was very pleasantly suprised when we played. Not only was the course in very good condition given the extremely heavy rain there had been in the night and weeks before we played, and it was december anyway, but also the course was challenging, interesting, and the back 9 especially fel really mature - and unlike so many boring, un-inspiring 'new' courses, which so often feel like they are random bits of land which was created into a golf course. I hope to return.
I played the main championship course at Forest of Arden in June 2009. I wasn't too sure what to expect after reading some of the poor reviews on this site, but went there with an open mind. Overall I was very impressed with the course, I thought the greens were very good indeed, true and fast which is all you can ask for really. The fairways were in good condition with no signs of ground under repair or unrepaired divot marks. The course is fair whilst remaining challenging, and I don't recall feeling that there were too any similar holes in layout. The standard out hole is the the par 3 18th which is about 220yds over a huge ravine. The green looks a mile away from the tee and is very deceptive, I just trusted the yardage and hit a rescue club 10ft from the pin, it made my day and left me thinking I would definitely head back again soon.
This used to be one of my favourite golf courses, especially the back 9 in the deer back. After playing again last week I am really sad to say that Marriot have killed it. I was shocked at the bad condition of every aspect of the course. From the bunkers, to the truly dreadful greens to the bare fairways full of old divots.
This isn't the type of condition that a course gets into over the winter, this can only be the result of severe cut backs (although they have built a brand new pro shop) and lack of care.
Overall a real shame that what was once such a great course is now in worse condition than an average muni.
Personally I was disappointed with the Arden Course. It was in good condition but I was expecting it to be special. From the 1st tee the motorway roar can be heard in the background and this only gets worse when you get to the 2nd to see the motorway as a backdrop. I found the front nine a bit dull and the par 3 8th over water water a disappointment. There is no trouble if you miss the green left/right or go too long which makes the hole too easy in my opinion.
The back nine however has a totally different feel and was far more enjoyable. It is much more peaceful and the background noise from the front nine is no longer heard. There is no forest element to any of this course though so don't expect tight tree lined fairways. The fairways on the back 9 are lined by fern and despite some wayward tee shots I was never in danger of too much punishment.
I think the venue is let down by the corporate feel which can ruin any course (not just this one). I found myself constantly repairing pitchmarks which is a real pet hate of mine when these are just left by others. Other than that the greens were fast and true with some excellent undulations.
The course is challenging and some percentage golf is advisable. Despite an enjoyable day I would not return.
This place has a rather corporate feel to it, not a great welcome from the starters. After the first two holes which are average it turns into a great challenge, with many long holes which are well protected by water and bunkers. For me the back 9 is much nicer than the front as you enter the forest. I have never seen so many deer on golf course!! I was a little disappointed with signature 18th hole as the over grown bushes restricted your view of the green and water which made the hole less intimidating. Course in great condition and look out for the par 3 8th, better than the 18th.
Play there 6 months ago , apart from raining all weekend , it was a real pleasurable experience ,Iam a memeber at the london club, and i think this is ten times better ,MUST PLAY! Greens were wicked considering the conditions !!
What an enjoyable course. After a very weak start, this course just gets better and better. The Par 5's are good testing risk reward holes and the par 3's make you think. The 9th hole has to be one of the hardest driving holes in golf (well that i have played anyway). All told a good test of golf with long irons needed as much as wedges. Played in May 06 with most courses struggling for condition and it was in fantastic shape. With a bar overlooking the 18th the atmosphere was good if a little corporate. Thoroughly enjoyable and well worth a visit.
A well crafted course laid through a landscape of woodland with ferns and aging oak trees. The course was in excellent condition for our visit even though the weather had been pretty wet for a few days beforhand. It's a good golf course but not outstanding and unfortunately due to it being owned by Marriott is quite pricey for a round but, countering that, the hotel is comfortable and provides good facilities if you are planning on staying there.