Swinley Forest, England
 
Berkshire - Best In County Golf Courses  Berkshire - Best In County Golf Courses England  England British Isles RankingBritish Isles Ranking World RankingWorld Ranking
Swinley Forest Golf Club
Coronation Road
Ascot
Berkshire
SL5 9LE
England
ArchitectHarry Colt
Head Professional/Director of GolfStuart Hill
Telephone+44 (0)1344 620197
Location2 miles S of Ascot
VisitorsContact in advance
Club Secretary/ ManagerGeorge Ritchie
 

Swinley Forest is an absolutely charming golf course on the famous Surrey/Berkshire sand belt, but it’s a club that is frozen in time, exclusive, unusual and totally eccentric. In fact, you would be hard pressed to describe it as a conventional golf club: there is no captain and despite being in existence for nearly 100 years, no history, except in its members’ heads. Only recently have scorecards been printed, holes allocated par figures, and competitions introduced for Swinley’s distinguished gentlemen members.

Harry Colt designed the layout and the course opened for play in 1909, reputedly Colt’s favourite and finest design. One of the many delights of Swinley is the ambience and the fact that it’s unpretentious. It has none of the glamour of its near neighbours Sunningdale and Wentworth, but what Swinley Forest does have is bags of style.

If you are lucky enough to play here, you will undoubtedly have the course to yourself.  It’s possible that Major So-and-so and his dog will be out there on the 15th and Lord Such-and-such will be having a beer in the clubhouse. Perhaps Peter Alliss will be there too. You will certainly find out who is around and about because the steward will tell you when he accepts your green fee. Anyway it’s likely that you will be able to count other golfers playing the course on one hand.  

We will make no bones about it, Swinley is a beautiful course. The short, one-shot holes are simply outstanding. The site/position of the greens sets Swinley apart from many other courses. Although the yardage is only a little over 6,000 yards, the par of 68 makes it a real challenge.

If you are lucky enough to play Swinley in late spring, look out for the rhododendrons (actually you can’t miss them), they are simply breathtaking. There are summer swathes of purple heather and lovely springy fairways that wind their way through mature pines... this really is a special place. Drop a letter in the post to the secretary by way of introduction, or maybe telephone him. Who knows, he might let you play this amazing private members’ course.

 
If the above course review article is not accurate, let us know by clicking here
 

Average Reviewers Score:      
[Next 10]  
This course is situated in a wonderful location and is brilliantly routed through stately Pine Forests and Heath Land. The elegance of the topography is picture postcard in every respect. We played 36 holes here in July and the place felt timeless. Could the course be bettered by extending a few of the holes? Or tightening the approaches? I think so. Some of the fairways are very forgiving in their width but overall I think this is a great day out for the double digit handicapper. There is very little here sadly to really stretch a Cat 1 Golfer for any duration. Just enjoy the lovely walk, The understated hospitality the welcoming members and the sumptuous aesthetic of quintessential Olde English Golf. I should also say that the condition of the course was excellent. JCB Lay
08 October 2014 See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

Response:
Jonathan Furness17 October 2014
I endorse everything said in this review. A beautiful course and fair for middle handicappers. A privilege to play here and a marvellous lunch to boot!
First of all, how we ended up logistically playing Rye Golf Club in the morning and Swinley Forest in the afternoon is a question I will not soon have an answer for. Somehow we managed to arrive only 45 minutes late and as I’m guessing is the case most of the time. Swinley was completely empty on this Friday evening. Leaving us the course entirely to ourselves. Wonderful weather, rhododendrons in full bloom and simply a magical experience. I would only have one gripe about Swinley and that would be conditioning, unless we caught it at a bad time. The landscape and the routing make it my favorite of all the London heathland courses but the conditioning leaves much to be desired and was by far the worst of any course on our trip. That being said, Swinley Forest does not disappoint and delivers one beautifully framed hole after another. My favorite holes were the par 3 4th and 10th, both are certainly world class. The 4th one of the best one shot holes I’ve ran into and the 10th while also a great hole was certainly one of the most spectacular with the rhododendrons in full bloom. So many of the par 4’s were excellent but the 12th and 15th both standout as lovely holes requiring exacting shots.

It is noteworthy that I simply loved this course and will dream about returning to play it after a long dry period when it’s playing really fast and firm and the greens have been mowed in the last week (at least).
24 September 2014 See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
A time warp. You get lulled into a false sense of security because it's short but trust me, it plays longer than the card. Unfortunately, the greens had just been sanded but the course was otherwise in great shape. Terrific par 3s, and many wonderful par 4s. Charming, totally charming. Play it if you can get on!
02 July 2014 See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
1 person found this review helpful
Respond to above review

Response:
James Bloomer25 August 2014
I agree with all of the above review. Perhaps my favourite set of par 3s anywhere, and many other wonderful holes BUT (and I have been lucky enough to play here twice this year, so this was not a one-off) please please cut the greens. They are not in bad condition, there is no visible sign of last years problems, they are just soooo slow. While you have the mower out, might want to cut the fairways too. Quite impossible to spin the ball at all from them as they are. Sadly, as it is, it is like having a treasured Old Master, and not cleaning it often enough.
Swinley Forest did not disappoint. Despite having to play the entire round in a fairly heavy rain the jaw dropping beauty of the course kept ones spirits up. The rhododendrems were in bloom and were stunning against the grey sky. The collection of par threes are amazing at Swinley with my favourites being the 4th and 17th. As the rain never let up during round the greens became water logged so l am not able to pass comment but they look to be in good condition. Hope to have the opportunity to return again and play in sunny conditions.
28 May 2014 See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Having played very recently, I can confirm that the greens are absolutely fine now. Swinley is a real privilege to play, and as well as being a tough test with many outstanding holes, it is extraordinarily pretty. The settings and framings of greens are an object lesson for modern course architects. If you get a chance, go.
30 October 2013 See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
1 person found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Just returned to Swinley for the second time this week and have to say what a pleasure it was to play. Its by no means long but every hole presents a challenge even for the big hitters where risking a big drive or 3wood can lead to running up a big score even on a short par 4. Every hole is memorable, the uphill 7th needs a carefully planned drive and then a tricky approach to an unsighted green and 15 through to 17 are great holes to test a good score coming in. The greens were rumored to have been in a very poor state 2/3 months ago and I'm really pleased to say that they are now in fine condition for the time of year.
13 September 2013 See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Having recently returned from our annual golf holiday, with this year Surrey being our venue of choice, my friend, my two Sons and I were tremendously privileged to be able to play golf at Swinley Forest Golf Club on our final day. Upon arrival at Swinley Forest we were made to feel extremely welcome, especially by George Ritchie (Secretary), Tony (Starter) and Stuart (Professional). Having played 18 holes during the morning, we ate lunch on the patio overlooking the 18th and the hospitality that we received from Alex (Bar Manager) was nothing short of exemplary. Having read recent reviews about the Club, I don’t mind admitting that I was somewhat apprehensive and a little concerned about the perceived condition of the course. I couldn’t have been more surprised! Based upon its setting, hole diversity and course condition, the whole experience was completely breathtaking. We were able to play off the white tees and it was certainly no flick! Swinley Forest has every type of hole you could wish for, coupled with heather that will punish you if you try to blow the course away. It’s no secret that Swinley’s greens had been rather problematic earlier in the year. Although the greens were a little slow, they were otherwise in immaculate condition, as was the rest of this distinguished and delightfully impressive course which oozes class. Every hole has its own theatre, with pine trees as its audience. This was certainly a day in a lifetime experience for us all, which we certainly hope to be fortunate enough to encounter again.
24 July 2013 See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

Response:
gareth jones18 September 2013
Glad to hear they are making some effort to improve the course and treatment of visitors. We had a terrible day out earlier in the year and the feedback from other friends that have played recently was not positive.
What a wonderful experience to play at Swinley Forrest. As you drive into the grounds, its like stepping back in time. This is definitely understated elegance. The clubhouse together with the staff are second to none, helpful and friendly. You won't see many on the course, apparently only about 30 members a day play! The golf course is not long, just over 6000 yards, but do not take it likely, the gorse can be really penal. There is not a bad hole at Swinley, it is one of the prettiest courses I have played. The greens are undulating but fair, some thought they were a little slow, but every course is different, that's what makes golf so interesting. If I had one very small criticism, the sand in the bunkers need replacing. I hope to return soon.
19 July 2013 See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Played Swinley recently. I need say no more about the food, hospitality etc....BUT. The course is looking very tired and somewhat neglected. The greens are in poor condition and very bumpy and patchy. Bunkers were universally stoney and uneven in both depth and texture. Fairways need a good diveting party. I am sorry to be so critical of a much loved old friend but its current high ranking is thoroughly undeserved. Too many old courses in Surrey are living off past glories and realistic and up to date appraisals are desperately needed.
04 May 2013 See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

Response:
S Stone26 May 2013
I am saddened to read of the state of the old course, I was fortunate to play many times in my youth as my grandfather lived at Swinley. He was Joe Woodley and kept the greens for about 50 years. He would be turning in his grave if he knew they were below par, I hope the club take note of the comments and restore them to former glory.
TT30 May 2013
The situation with the greens was caused by last year's atrocious summer - and the lateness of spring this year. The new club secretary is renowned for his hands on approach to course perfection - and the club he was last in charge of has arguably the best greens in the country as his legacy. Huge work is being put in to repair and restore the Swinley greens - and with this recent rain and sun they are already progressing rapidly. This is a temporary glitch that is being rectified - and Swinley more than deservesdeserves to maintain its Top 100 status.
Played Swinley earlier this week in glorious weather, and as ever the setting was magnificent. However, the new club regime seems to have taken notice of the past couple of reviews and decided to do something about the greens. I’ve also played Swinley once a year for the past six or seven years at the end of April, and in agreement with other reviewers they’ve never been in fantastic condition. However on Tuesday they were absolutely appalling. The greens had been properly hollow tined, scarified and dethatched - to the extent that there was more bare soil visible than grass. We started about 0845 at the 10th and the 9th green had just been sanded raked watered and rolled, by the time we finished at lunchtime they were on the day’s second sanding session. Putting was an absolute lottery. But the new secretary of a month’s standing saw us at lunchtime and while hugely apologetic said, the work was needed to rectify 10 years of lack of work. So hopefully by the time we go back this time next year, the greens will be back to their reputedly silky best.
27 April 2013 See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
[Next 10]  

10 Latest course reviews
1 Sand Moor
''Played SandMoor a few times so was nice to come back, always been impressive and somewhat a hidden ...''
2 Woking
''The last of the Three Ws is certainly no disappointment, starting with the decades old wisteria bus...''
3 Worplesdon
''I played Worplesdon on a sunny May '15 Monday morning, mainly accompanied by a delightful longtime...''
4 West Hill
''I played the course on a pleasant Sunday afternoon in May '15. Several members confessed to being ...''
5 Addington
''I've played this wonderful course twice, roughly five years apart, and in each case during mild Spr...''
6 St George's Hill (Red & Blue)
''I played the Red/Blue on a clear breezy day in May '15. The golf and hospitality staffs were both ...''
7 Wentworth (West)
''I have played Wentworth many times over the years but since the changes I have to say that is not a...''
8 TPC at Sawgrass (Stadium)
''Just returned from a trip to Sawgrass and I can report that the course is as fun to play as it look...''
9 Old Head
''Call me old fashioned, but if you’re going to call yourself a “Links” golf course, then your golf c...''
10 Old Town
''This is the most underrated golf course in the United States. Talk about flying under the radar.

Click here to see our 100 latest reviews



Home  |  Score card  |  About Us  |  Contact Us  |  News  |  Resorts  |  Gems  |  Golf Breaks  |  Site Map|  Terms & Conditions|  Privacy Policy/Cookies