Broadstone enjoys an immense reputation in southern England and at first glance it is easy to see why. Once on the Colt holes (much of #s 5-16) the terrain becomes wild in places, perhaps a bit too much so here and there. As a back drop for several holes there is a rather large and beautiful heath, about 250 acres in total. The A31 piles straight through The New Forest (just north of Broadstone) and all one can see is an immense heath. I suspect at one time the heath spread further south to Broadstone.
On the lower part of the course, near the house, there are several holes originally designed by Thomas Dunne. These holes are not what the golfer has come to play. The newer Colt holes include seven stand-outs, #s 5-8 (the 7th described by T Doak as "capsule summary of War and Peace"), 13, 14 and 16 (arguably the best of the lot), all par 4s save for the 6th. There are a few holes which should be better than they are, the 11th comes to mind. Many other holes have some merit, but for one reason or another left me less than completely satisfied. One reason for my disappointment is the bunkering; much of it is visually at odds with the lovely heathland setting. The result is a frustrating mix of parkland/heathland feel.
Frank Pont was recently engaged to revitalize Broadstone and the program of change is well under way. Several holes have had the Pont treatment and to great effect. The most stunning transformations are 5, 6, 8 & 14, a good bulk of the marquee holes. However, I will be interested to see what happens with the excellent 16th. This is arguably the best hole on the course, but it holds little visual appeal.
The course opens with a shortish par 5 playing between dull as dish water bunkers left and a ditch backed with heathery rough right. Depite the visual mess, the hole still requires two solid shots to set up a two-putt birdie. Presumably, this bunker will be a model of sorts for Frank.
#2 plays to a narrow fairway with a steeply rising approach. The third features an awkward pond fronting the green. The course starts to liven up on the 4th, but there is a prime opportunity to showcase the dead tree which is half buried.
The 5th has been dramatically improved. This par 4 green can be driven, but the land leans wonderfully right toward a front greenside bunker.
Turning back, we play the first of a very good and fairly difficult set of par 3s. The 6th features a combination of threatening fronting pits and a frightfully shallow green. Below is a photo from the rear of the green.
Just when the golfer reckons he has pegged Broadstone, a hole like #7 turns up! The hole rather reminds me of a three hump camel, two in the fairway and the green. The green and a nibble of fairway are seen to the left, along with a load of trouble. The bulk of the fairway is blind out to the right with nasty gorse lining the edge.
The approach is over a crossing jigsaw puzzle piece bunker (see #8 at St Georges Hill) to a steep back to front green benched into the hill. Its a shame about the bunker style and what seems to me a green which doesn't properly fill the pad. The unnatural looking circular greens are an issue throughout Broadstone. None the less, this is an outstanding hole.
Looking toward the tee.
The final hole of this purple patch is the terrific one-shot 8th, which turns back on the 7th.
The 9th, a par 5, plays over welcome flatter terrain and doesn't feel like it belongs; I believe this is a newish hole. There is an odd hitch with a tree blocking easy access to the preferable right side of the fairway. While not a bad hole, it certainly stands out as uncharacteristic of Broadstone. The very narrow 10th plays sidehill below the 9th - not a hole I admire much.
The back nine features greens which are far more difficult than the front nine. The main reason for this is the terrain tends to be more on the hilly side. One must absolutely pay attention to the hills before putting or end up with a card full of three-putts. The 11th was once a lovely Redan which was significantly altered in the early 2000s.
The ultra-narrow and harshly uphill 12th is another hole which didn't impress. As with the opening holes, it is easy to lose interest in Broadstone at this stage in the round, but that would be a mistake. The second purple patch commences on 13 with a very innocuous drive. Out of a seemingly benign hole, we now encounter a terrific risk it all approach. Trouble lurks left, the green moves away from the fairway and sure safety up the right is met with a hidden bunker flanking the green.
We now play along the hillside which #12 climbed. This three hole stretch reminds me a lot of Notts' 11-13 sequence where play goes up a valley, across a ridge then back down. While the uphill hole at Notts (#11) has it all over Broadstone's counterpart, it is arguable that Broadstone takes the prize for the remainder of the trio.
The semi blind approach plays over string of pearls bunkering to a green leaning back left to front right.
The last of the short holes comes in the fashion of a long down-hiller. There are more issues of bunker style, but this is a decent hole.
Back in the day.
Perhaps my favourite hole on the course; the 16th is a reverse camber hole, a concept I generally dislike. Yet Broadstone's version is one of the best I have encountered. The bunker must be taken on to leave a decent length approach as the fairway cants right, against the line of the play.
The back to front sloping green is very well protected by diagonal bunkers. Its a shame the green doesn't extend down along the line of bunkers, hopefully Frank will give this some thought
Unfortunately, after a longish walk, Broadstone finishes with two distinctly mediocre holes. The 17th playing downhill to an unimaginatively bunkered green and 18 only has the positive element of leading golfers to the bar. In a very real sense, the contrast of #s 13-16 against 17 & 18 sums up Broadstone for me; the course is far too inconsistent to be considered among the best of England. The shame of it all is Broadstone is on a terrific site which should produce an excellent course. Some of the problems can be cured with better bunkering and cut lines, but for me there are still issues with the flow of Broadstone. The best holes (7, 13 & 14 are All England candidates) come in bunches leaving the golfer with protracted periods of uninspired design. I wish when the visionaries of the club hired Colt that the course would have been moved lock, stock and smoking barrel to the upper heathland section of the course. Despite my criticisms, Broadstone does tick a lot of positive boxes. Any course with a small handful of all England candidates has to be worth some effort to see. To top it off, there are several well thought of courses nearby which make a trip to little heralded Bournemouth well worth the effort. 2014