Golf in Suffolk provides a relatively unheralded, yet wonderful experience, with five excellent courses around the coast all within 45 minutes of each other
The first thing you notice on the scorecard is the total absence of the figure ‘5’ in the par column; to balance things out a little, SSS can be up to five greater than the par of 68!
Either way, this is a very good test of golf played through gorse-lined fairways that aren’t quite as gorse-lined as they used to be prior to some recent thinning out.
But you’ll still need a well-tuned radar to score well in any sort of wind, which for my round was against up 1, 3 and 5, with even the shortest of those at 405 yards demanding the removal of a hybrid headcover for the approach.
All of which proved ideal preparation for the 16th – a 478-yard brute of a par 4 whose only saving grace is that it isn’t among the narrowest of the fairways.
Of the par 3s, where sleepered bunkers are often in evidence, the short 4th stands out on account of its incredibly long, sloping green. At no 71 in Golf Monthly’s current Top 100 courses, Aldeburgh is the premier golf in Suffolk experience.
The main course at Ipswich, or Purdis Heath, is a wonderful James Braid heathland creation set on undulating terrain, with some excellent bunkering right from the 1st, a suitably gentle par 4 to ease you in.
That beautiful bunkering is again in evidence on the 3rd, the first of the one-shotters, before the intriguing dogleg left 4th where the approach is played blind down to a green set 50ft below the fairway in a hollow.
The real standout stretch is book-ended by the 8th and 12th, which play either way across a valley. The former boasts ‘right’ and ‘left’ tee options according to the time of year.
The risk-reward 9th is then dead straight, but with danger either side and a slender green entrance to make you think twice. The 12th is probably best of all – a glorious-looking hole with an uphill approach to a green protected by an attractive cluster of bunkers short right.
Thorpeness is another wonderful James Braid heathland layout, which like Aldeburgh a couple of miles south, is somewhat lacking in the par-5 department; unlike Aldeburgh it does at least boast one to bring birdie thoughts to the minds of big hitters.
But the 14th is far from easy, doglegging left late on, so only the very best of drives down the right will offer any hope of getting home in two. Eight par 4s over 400 yards merely add to the Thorpeness challenge.
Founded in 1893, the Heath Course at Woodbridge Golf Club was designed by Davie Grant of North Berwick.
The course was modified in 1920 by James Braid to create the existing heathland layout. Gorse and heather pose a constant threat, so there is a premium on accuracy from the tee.
It might not be the longest course but many will come a cropper playing into its well-guarded greens. The back nine poses a bigger challenge than the front, with the 14th and 15th standing out.
Felixstowe Ferry is the fifth oldest club in the England having been founded in 1880. The layout of the 18-hole Martello course today is part links and part parkland, offering views across the East Anglian coast and the Deben Estuary.
There are a number of challenging par three holes, with the short 5th hole being the pick of the bunch.
It measures just 136 yards but a crosswind can make the green nigh on impossible to hit. If the wind is up when you visit here, expect a serious test of your game.