Parkstone Golf Club was originally designed by Willie Park but in 1937 James Braid revised the layout to produce one of the best courses in Southern england. Towering pines and gorgeous heather line the undulating fairways together with panoramic views of Poole Harbour and the Isle of Purbeck.
Try to keep your opening drive down the left as it leaves a much better line into the green. I attempted this but got a bit of a fade and ended up just off the fairway on the right leaving an approach over both bunkers. With the uphill approach anything coming up short is going to roll back about 30 yards so I went with a bold approach which drifted a little left ending up in the heather on the bank by the green but did manage to get down from there and two putt for an opening five.
The first short hole is very picturesque, set next to a lake which does not come into play but I imagine often provides a stiff right to left breeze. Luckily I missed the green to the right which is probably the easier side for an up and down save, walking off with a satisfying par. The third provides a cracking tee shot from what feels like the middle of the lake, if anything aim a little left of middle but straight and true is the best policy on this par 5. With no bunkers on this fairway you will have a good chance of trying to run up onto the green in two but don’t over do it as the road behind the green is not where you want to end up.
A short par 4 is up next and some will be tempted to go for the green but the sensible approach is to aim at the left bunker with a club you know is not going to reach it, this leaves a great line into the green with a short iron. I wish I had opted for the sensible option but hit a wild drive left, got a flier from the heather with my approach but managed to chip in for a par! The following hole plays back towards the lake with the fairway sloping towards the water, calling for a drive over or at the bunkers so your ball moves back to the middle of the fairway as it rolls out. A decent drive and a good approach gave me a birdie chance but I ended up posting my second par in a row.
The sixth hole turns back towards the road and is a great par 5 dogleg. A successful attempt at cutting the left edge of the fairway will end up with your ball catching the downslope at the elbow, gaining an extra 40 yards, cut too much off though and you may be hitting another off the tee. The raised green makes it very tough to go for the green in two so the sensible option is to leave your approach short of the path and try to pitch close for a birdie putt. I took the sensible approach and managed to post yet another par. The seventh just need one word of warning, stay below the hole, if you go past the pin you will be left with a nightmare putt or worse back.
Another dogleg awaits on the eighth, with some fantastic views of Poole Harbour, no need to attempt cut the corner here just hit it far enough or right enough to leave a short iron approach to the long green. A slight left to right shot is required on the ninth as the fairway slopes the opposite way, short hitters should play for the 150 yard markers with their second shot otherwise you could be left with a very awkward downhill lie. Avoid the bunkers off the tee on the tenth and do not leave your approach short as your ball will disappear into a run off area. It looks like a simple hole but it is not stroke index 1 for nothing and I was pleased to come off the green with a five.
Another par 5 follows where a couple of shorter distance shots is probably better than attempting longer ones as anything inside 100 yards is going to leave you with an awkward sloping lie. The elevated tee on the twelfth makes you feel you can go for clearing those fairway bunkers but you are much better off aiming short of the tree to the right of them leaving a short pitch to a very tricky. Leave your approach short and it will roll back, pitch too far up the green and you will wish you had left it short. A short par 4 follows from an elevated tee but don’t get greedy, aim left of the bunkers and open up your approach to the back to front sloping green.
I had been playing a steady one over par for each hole since the tenth and this continued on the fourteenth. A great par 3 where you just simply have to hit the green otherwise you are in trouble, the putting surface is wider at the back so if in doubt longer is probably better, a four here continued my steady form. The camber of the fairway is what makes the fifteenth hole a tricky one, there are no bunkers but you will most probably be left with the ball above your feet for your second shot, if left with a long iron approach you may be better off laying up. I tried an approach with a 5-iron, aimed right to allow for a draw off the slope but it went dead straight, I still managed to post a five though.
The short sixteenth again offers superb views of Poole Harbour but being high up also means the wind could be a major factor in club selection, if the wind is behind or against the difference could be as much as two clubs! The final par 5 offers a blind teeshot over the left half of the heather mound, for those too afraid to take this line the shot straight ahead is through “Old Man’s Alley”. I hit a cracking drive here and got a bit carried away with my second, instead of playing it as a par 5 I attempted to go for the green, pushing my approach into the heather on the left resulting in my only lost ball of the round.
The final hole is another great par 3, if the wind is up it could be tricky, if in doubt short right is the place to bail out leaving a straight forward pitch up the green, anything left is in trouble. I really enjoyed my round here, playing almost to handicap and I must say what wonderful condition Parkstone Golf Club was in for the time of year. The pro shop said winter rules were in force and you could lift and place your ball when on the fairway, I don’t think I ever felt the need to and the greens were perfect to putt on.