Jeremy Ellwood takes a look at nine of the best golf courses in Norfolk.
The Best Golf Courses In Norfolk
The county of Norfolk may best be recognised as a flat county on the Eastern coast of England but that does not mean there isn’t great golf to be played there.
Here we take a look at nine of the best golf courses in Norfolk, ranging from Royal West Norfolk, to Hunstanton, to the stunning Sheringham.
Related: Golf Monthly UK&I Top 100 Courses
Royal West Norfolk
Brancaster is a superb place to play when you just want to get away from it all. I’ve been fortunate enough to play here about ten times, and if you like your golf old-school and ‘au naturel’ then this links is for you.
Bear in mind, though, that it is two-balls and foursomes only, with discounted green fees available for the latter, and that the height of the tide plays a big part in both how certain holes will play and how accessible the approach road will be.
The 3rd and 4th, with their sleepered bunkers, stand out early, while the blind drive on the 5th will leave you coming over the crest full of anticipation or trepidation, depending on where you’ve hit your ball.
The par-5 8th and par-4 9th are two of my favourites, with water to cross on both should the tide be high, while the two toughest par 3s are the 6th and 15th, which play a similar distance and in broadly the same direction. Club one right and you’ll probably get the other one right, too… though it could be anything from an 8-iron to a 3-wood!
Sheringham represents UK clifftop golf at its very best, with the holes right along the edge not only exhilarating visually, but also strong, like the rollercoaster long par-4 5th. I suppose if there were one minor regret about Sheringham it is that the clifftop stretch is all over quite early, as the course gradually moves a little further from the edge after the 7th.
But there are still plenty of cracking holes to come, including the delightful par-3 11th that plays to a generously bunkered green at the foot of a hill, and the 17th with its raised green and splendid backdrop of pines.
Even if you are a little way from the cliffs as you make for home, there’s always the prospect of a steam train passing close by, plus the splendid vista on the short but fiendishly well-protected 16th.
By some quirk of diary fate, I’ve only played Hunstanton twice, despite it first coming on my radar in a magazine article more than 30 years ago when I first got into golf.
Much like Brancaster, it feels rugged from the start, with the sea first really coming into view on the 5th – a testing par 4 where mounds guard the green and out of bounds lurks close on the right.
The short 6th confounds the notion that length is the only defence, for should you miss its table-top green in one of the many wrong places, bogey may even elude you.
The 7th is then the pick of the par 3s visually. Again, it’s not a long hole, but it has a huge and hungry sleepered front bunker awaiting anything underclubbed or mishit.
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The keys to scoring well at King’s Lynn, especially over the opening nine, are accuracy and an ability to work the ball both ways. The 3rd, which used to be the opener, is perhaps the toughest early test, ideally requiring a gentle fade before a potentially long approach to a narrow target.
The back nine hits hard early on, with a dogleg par 5 followed by a long par 4 and a 200-yard one-shotter, but the need for pinpoint accuracy relents a little as you head home, giving you a chance to pinch something back.
Although Royal Cromer is a clifftop layout, it starts and finishes on higher ground a little further from the edge before plunging down dramatically on the 4th. The course then turns and stays closer to the cliffs from the 6th.
After the 11th, you climb steeply back to the higher ground for a memorable closing stretch. The 14th curves round to the striking lighthouse before the 16th serves up some of the best views of all.
This friendly little club half a mile from the coast started out as nine-holer in 1900, grew to 18 in 1924 but then reverted to nine after World War II. It plays over the rolling terrain of the Mun Valley, with sea views on offer from the higher holes, and has a strong association with Harry Vardon, who first played the course while recuperating from TB.
With its modest yardage, length is not the main challenge, though you do have to be straight and know where you’re going to negotiate a number of blind shots.
From the challenging opening par 3 to its tough, uphill, par-4 finish, Thetford Golf Club is a layout set in beautiful woodland. Founded in 1912, the course was designed by Charles Mayo before changes were made by James Braid and Phillip MacKenzie Ross.
The holes meander brilliantly through pine, oak, and birch trees while heather enhances the aesthetics as well as increasing the difficulty.
While some holes offer an advantage to big hitters there are some great doglegs where a well placed tee shot will set up good birdie opportunities.
Great Yarmouth and Caister
Founded in 1882, the original layout had 12 holes before an extra hole was added just a year later. By the end of 1883, the club managed to commission the building of an 18-hole course which was to be designed by Tom Dunn.
After the First World War, the race track got relocated to its current location which brought about several course design changes in 1921.
The most memorable aspect of the course is the proximity to the race track, in which you will probably have to duck under the white rails several times throughout your round. Take the first for example, a 319-yard par-4 you drive over the rails towards the fairway and you play to the green with the track looming on your right.
A parkland course built around accuracy rather than length, Eaton Golf Club was formed in 1910 and designed by JH Taylor. Trees line most holes but thankfully, the round starts with a par-5 that can yield a birdie provided you keep the ball in play.
However, be prepared to gift that shot back if you don’t find the green on the next. A 159-yard par-3 bunkers lie short and left of the raised green and going right will leave a tricky recovery shot as well.
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