Architect: Willie Park Jr & James Braid
It is so rare for a golf course to have no weak holes. I would be happy to say that there are maybe only a handful of English courses, that bestow this honour. Parkstone is surely one of them.
The Bournemouth locale plays host to a serious collection of golf courses: Stoneham, Remedy Oak, Broadstone and Ferndown, to name a few. Out of this catalog, I have only played Broadstone, and whilst I enjoyed it, I was perplexed to find it a spot higher than Parkstone. Something SERIOUSLY wrong there.
Parkstone is criminally underrated. It sits at #38 on my 2019 list, #37 on the 2021 iteration and #44 on Top100GolfCourses.com. Just to name a few courses that I deem lesser than Parkstone: Royal Ashdown Forest (#29), Wentworth West (#23) and even Swinley Forest (#11). That last one is particularly spicy put Parkstone is just that good, and we played it in mid-November! A novelty to not have to air-blast your spikes after an English golf course in winter – conditioning is pure.
What makes Parkstone ‘that’ good? Well, the whole vibe is so modest – of course the golf course is going to be the shining light, however, even the members don’t know what they have in front of them. The first hole is the perfect example. A pretty straight par 4 up the hill, a cross-bunker and an elevated green with a drop-off to the right. Arguably the perfect recipe and a sensational opener. But the course and the layout keeps on giving. There is an air of vivaciousness at Parkstone, the white tee box on the third hole personifies this. A pseudo island in the middle of a tranquil reservoir brimming with bird-life and guarded by a company of £5 million nouveau-scandi mansions. Something unique and therefore something memorable.
The design of each and every hole is truly engaging, but it is the view between the holes that I believe makes this course. It allows you to truly appreciate the wicked elevation changes the course traverses. The contours on the fairways and greens are elevated – the winter sun definitely sharpened the picture. The openness of the site, the flora and the pines absolutely evoked a medeterannian familiarity – big Algarve vibes.
My good friend and fellow golf explorer @colt45golf hasn’t shut up about Parkstone since he played it earlier this season. His golden-hour photographs have been the pinnacle of his 2021 Instagram portfolio. Craig’s hyperbole and exclamations were, however, well-founded. Parkstone was a delight and definitely one I want to return and conquer. I played very well apart from the par 3s, which was a shame as they were some of the best I have ever played. Framed to perfection. I still can’t hole a putt – 4 weeks and counting. Nightmare.
Thank you to JSW for your outstanding hospitality. If things turn out the way I want them, then I may be down at Parkstone a little more often. Keep posted.