Forest Pines situated in the heart of Lincolnshire at Broughton is very well named.
27 holes have been carved out of 190 acres of woodland making this venue a dendrologist’s dream. In addition to towering pines, the venue hosts beech, silver birch, sycamore, ash, oak and many more popular and less common varieties.
Three loops of nine holes, “Forest”, “Pines” and “Beeches” are employed in combination to offer the visitor a challenging eighteen hole test.
Recently re-branded and refurbished and located very conveniently a short distance from J4 off the M180, DoubleTree by Hilton Forest Pines Spa & Golf Resort can quite rightly be called a Lincolnshire gem. The hotel has it all: a championship golf course nestled into the countryside, 188 spacious bedrooms, an outstanding health club and spa, a state-of-the-art conference and events centre and three high quality but very different restaurants.
Seven colleagues from the media and I enjoyed a two day mini-break there in March and it did not disappoint. Forest Pines delivers a quality experience on and off the course. Voted “Best Golf Course in the East of England 2018” by Today’s Golfer, our expectations were high as we enjoyed the pre-morning round bacon sandwich in the Pines Bar. Over the next two days these expectations were met and exceeded.
Wednesday morning saw us teeing up against the “Beeches” and “Forest” loops. An opening par 3 on “Beeches” may have induced false confidence as the route to the green was not festooned with wood. Any such confidence was short lived as we moved through a series of tree lined par 4s offering just enough room to steer a drive to safe landing. In addition to the plethora of trees, demanding tee shot accuracy, the courses, particularly “Forest”, are populated with strategically placed bunkers. Having navigated your ball through, over or round the trees and bunkers, the final test is provided by the greens. They are slopey and for March were particularly quick. A few weeks of Spring sunshine and they will be Augusta style rapid.
DoubleTree by Hilton Forest Pines Spa & Golf Resort is so much more than 27 holes of golf. QHotels-owned, this is a superb base for the golfer and those who are not in love with the game. QHotels have developed the combination of luxury but affordable, leisure, comfort and golf through a range of their properties, which includes among others, Forest Pines, Slaley Hall (Northumberland), Belton Woods (Grantham) and Oulton Hall (Leeds). I can only comment on one of the 188 beautifully presented bedrooms, but it delivered all you would expect from a quality hotel. Spacious, tastefully furnished and with all the trimmings.
With the opening round complete it was time to sample the leisure, fitness and spa facilities. I decided to pass on the fitness, having walked over 7,000 yards through the trees, and focus on the pool, sauna, steam and jacuzzi. All excellent and very popular as in addition to hotel guests, the Spa and Leisure Centre has c. 2,000 members. Had I been looking for a workout, then plenty of options are available including a fully equipped gym, cycle room (with a collection of conveyances Dave Brailsford would have approved) and spin studio.
Day one ended with dinner in the Grill Restaurant, talking through the stunning nature of the setting, the shots we so nearly pulled off and an acknowledgment from most that on day one “Beeches” and “Forest” had come out on top. The Grill provided the ideal setting for these conversations giving us a fine menu of classic British food enhanced with a modern treatment. Local produce (I sampled the lamb rump) beautifully cooked and presented.
Day two and back on the course/s following a substantial buffet breakfast (very easy to over indulge in the options available from the breakfast grill) in brilliant sunshine, which made the trees even more majestic as they played host to our wayward strikes. Trees are a big part of the Forest Pines lay-out but in addition there are plants, flowers and a collection of water features further enhancing the experience.
Our test on the second day was to be “Forest” and “Pines” (probably the preferred and most testing combination) and again the challenge was a good one for the group of mid-teen handicaps. “Forest” and “Pines” include the two signature par 3s, both requiring a precision strike over water which meanders into the green. Anything short is wet unless you can repeat the “Barnes Wallis” water bouncing effort I delivered on the “Pines” Number 7! Two skips across the pond and a roll up the green to twenty feet.
Golf at Forest Pines in fine weather is a treat. However indifferent the ball striking may be the beauty of the c. 5 mile walk in the peaceful Lincolnshire countryside makes up for any bogeys or worse. The 27 holes provide a real test (which is why prestigious golf tournaments are held there) requiring accuracy as much as length. But the mixture of short and long (some very long) holes ensures an interesting round, which if it is your day could result in a good score. Unfortunately, “my day” did not really make an appearance around “Forest” “Pines” or “Beeches”.
Post golf, following a quick look round the well-stocked golf shop (to secure my souvenir ball marker), a goodbye lunch in Pines Bar (which overlooks the course). More talk of shots good and bad and an opportunity to reflect on two very enjoyable days.
Having experienced it for the first time I can confirm that Forest Pines is an ideal venue for a golf and/or leisure break and recommend it to those reading this review. Easily accessed from all parts of the country it offers the winning formula of a prestigious, challenging, interesting course (beautifully presented), a range of leisure, fitness and relaxation facilities, comfortable spacious accommodation and a selection of food and drink to suit all tastes and budgets. I believe my opinion has me in line with a statistic produced by a colleague on the visit from Golfshake who informed me that 97% of visitors to Forest Pines would recommend the course and look to return. I am happy to be added to that number.
By Andrew Swires
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