Polly and I played this pay as you play course on 5 April 2010. We'd left it late to book a game, as this was Easter Monday and we expected that other courses would be pretty busy. Perhaps it was the heavy rain earlier in the day, but the course was pretty quiet. Alternatively, the difficulty of this course might simply have persuaded others to go elsewhere. Indeed, the starter expressed some surprise that Polly was playing, saying that the course was very difficult and did not attract many female visitors. At 6009 yards par 72 off the yellow tees, Forrester Park is certainly not short, but its setting amongst rolling hills, with ponds or streams coming into play on 9 holes, adds to the difficulty. Throw in saturated ground, early season greens, really tricky bunkering, some difficult long holes and a blustery wind with occasional showers and Forrester Park becomes a pretty brutal test. Above is a view of the 1st hole from the 10th tee, giving a typical impression of the hills and water features. Given the threat of more rain, I didn't loosen up much and some early sloppy play led to a couple of opening 6's on an easy par 4 and a short par 3. However, I parred the next 4 holes to get the scoring back into line. The 7th is an awkward uphill, downwind par 5 of 526 yards, but my third shot found the cavernous bunker in front of the green and unfortunately this was the one bunker that appeared to be in need of some pre-season maintenance. Suffice to say I ended up with an 11, having given up trying to go direct for the flag after several attempts to overcome an overhanging lip. To make matters worse, the 8th was Stroke Index 1, a 407 yard par 4 played directly into the wind, with a blind uphill second shot. I was happy enough with a bogey, only to find that the 9th was a par 5 from an elevated tee, straight into the wind, with another long uphill approach to the green and a river awaiting the drive. Another bogey followed and I was out in 49, needing some inspired play on the back 9 to rescue the score.
The wind had been strengthening and was enough to blow our trolleys over by the time we we got the 10th tee. Here's a view of the 10th hole, with the 18th fairway on the left. There are 8 large pot bunkers within driving distance of the tee, but since the hole is a left hand dog leg, the shortest route is up the 18th fairway. Even the rough between these holes was pretty short, so my drive up the 18th left only a wedge to the green. I'd managed a par on a particularly hazardous hole, but since the back 9 holes are over 400 yards longer than the front 9, potential trouble lay ahead. Indeed, that was to be my last par of the round, as a combination of poor putting on huge sloping greens and increasing trouble with the by now very strong wind meant that scoring was becoming hugely difficult.
Here is a view of the 18th, a par 4 of only 322 yards. Factor in the elevated tee, the strong headwind, another river, an extremely steep approach to the green and severe undulations on the green itself and the Stroke Index 13 rating looked to be wrong. A 3 wood to the green for my second shot landed just short, but rolled 70 yards down the hill, leaving a completely blind wedge approach. The hole had been set on a severe slope so another 3 putt followed for a closing double bogey and a disappointing 48 on the back 9. I'd gone round in 97 and although most of that was down to my mistakes, some of the conditions didn't help. Forrester Park is certainly a very challenging course and I was just glad that I hadn't played it off the Blue tees, from where the course is 6855 yards. Now there's a future challenge for Craig to consider!