Because of the nature of geography, great golf courses are gregarious, they cluster together in enclaves over a particular stretch of land and one such area is the Norfolk and Suffolk coastline.
The premier layout in this part of God’s own golfing country is Royal West Norfolk, also known as Brancaster. Its designer, the wonderfully named Holcombe Ingleby, was both mayor and then MP for King’s Lynn and this is the only course he laid out but it’s a heck of a fine legacy.
Moreover, his vision, which opened in 1892, was so good that many of the holes are still played today, virtually untouched from his original plan.
In general the outward nine is inland, with the home stretch, usually playing into the prevailing wind, along the coast. Be warned that the clubhouse is not accessible at high tide.
Royal West Norfolk Golf Club (or 'Brancaster', as it is often referred to) was founded in 1892, and the course laid out by Mr Holcombe Ingleby. There has been little alteration to Ingleby's design, and many of the original holes are still played today.
The Club is unusual in that its royal status was conferred at the outset, with the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII, accepted the invitation to become the Club's Patron. Four Members of the Royal Family have captained the Club over the years, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Windsor and two Dukes of Kent.
The Clubhouse is not accessible by car when the tide is high, and both the 8th and 9th holes are affected by the tide. Walking across the beach to get from the clubhouse on to the course immediately gives one a pleasurable and relaxed feeling of anticipation.
At 6,457 yards and par 71, the course is not particularly long, but, situated as it is right on the North Norfolk coast, it is often subjected to very windy conditions. The outward 9 measures 3,409 yards, as against the 3,048 yards coming home, but the prevailing wind can make the inward 9 very hard. It is a fine example of a links course, predominantly going out inland and coming back along the coast.
Visitors are welcome, although numbers are strictly limited.
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