ROYAL ASHDOWN CONTINUED
#s 10 & 11 are rather prosaic. Though the tenth has a somewhat interesting shelf green. The 11th is a 250 yard one-shotter which does have the slightly redeeming feature of the length being difficult to judge on firm ground. Things pick back up for the three-shotter 12th. Playing across a hill, accurately guessing how much the cant of the fairway will bring the tee shot left is a challenge.
Darwin's proclamation that "...with pleasurable shock that there isn't a single hideous rampart or so much as a pot bunker." rings hollow. The number of fairways cut off by long grass/mounding is surely an indicator that Ashdown could benefit immensely from well placed bold bunkering. The second and third shots.
Ashdown could fairly be called "target" golf. The 13th is another example. So is the par 3 fourteenth, but its a fine example of the type. Coined, Mitchell's Dip, this 200 yarder is nearly all carry. This plaque is on the tee, although I don't believe it is accurate. My understanding is the golfer on the top of the cup isn't based on anybody.
A look at the difficulties just short of the green.
This could well be my favourite green. The drop off on the left is splendid.
I previously didn't mention the 15th as a highlight hole, yet it does have the attributes of exciting golf. Perhaps if the hole were 25 or so yards less in length the temptation factor would heighten the effect of Padgham's Carry.
Padgham's Carry. Alf Padgham was the winner of the 1936 Open at Hoylake and played in three Ryder Cups.
#16 is a bit of a throw-away hole. Yet another green with access blocked by mounding. Now then, #17! Comfortably one of the best holes on the course and the only very long two-shotter. The tee shot is blind, but a helpful marker pole indicates the line is just left of the trees which separate #s 16 & 17. If one is uncomfortable with that advice, it is possible to steer left, but as in a few places dotted around the course, jungle rough awaits the tweeked shot. A long and accurate drive will leave a long approach over a valley to a green benched into the hillside right.
The home hole is an odd duck. Crossing the first fairway, its very easy to leak a drive right and be caught behind trees. On the other hand, staying left brings the rough which bisects the fairway into play.
The rough was reasonably burned out, but usually I wouldn't think golfers would entertain dancing in this grass.
Perhaps people are more enthralled with the course because of the rarity of no bunkers, however, the design is quite singular in how the challenge is presented. There is the odd bit of coping with the slopes of the hills, but for the most part the course consistently throttles the long ball and requires aerial approaches. This must have been highly unusual in its day, but in a very real sense Ashdown is a blueprint for modern championship golf. Despite the grand site and robust reputation, I find Ashdown a bit too one dimensional. Additionally, I didn't care for the up and down nature of the design especially as so many holes attacked straight uphill or ran straight downhill. Balancing the scales, the house is very attractive and if one really enjoys this aspect of a day out then heaven it is. 2013