Royal West Norfolk - Norfolk - England

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club,
Brancaster,
Norfolk,
PE31 8AX,
England


  • +44 (0) 1485 210223

  • Golf Club Website

  • 7 miles E of Hunstanton

  • Contact in advance – restricted at weekends

  • Ian Symington

  • Holcombe Ingleby

  • Simon Rayner

Founded in 1892, Royal West Norfolk Golf Club is a classic, nothing much has changed here for 100 years. Squeezed beautifully between Brancaster Bay and the salt marshes, Royal West Norfolk truly is a peaceful golf links, except when the wind blows and boy, is the wind bracing here!

Check the tide times before you plan your trip to Royal West Norfolk Golf Club. The course plays on a narrow strip of links-land which gets cut off at high tide, turning it into an island. If you are lucky enough to play the course during high tide, you are in for a real treat; the downside is that you will need plenty of golf balls.

Prior to your game, grab a quick drink in the oak-panelled Smoke Room inside the Victorian clubhouse and check the wind speed on the gauge next to the bar. If you want to eat after your round, make sure you order before you play, otherwise you will only be offered a choice of delicious cakes.

“In the days of the gutty it was most emphatically a driver’s course,” wrote Bernard Darwin in his book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, “since nobody could get over the ground without exceptional hitting. Even now, when the pampering Haskell has noticeably reduced its terrors, it is still a driver’s course, in the sense that it is one on which one derives the maximum of sensual pleasure from opening one’s shoulders for a wooden club shot.”

Out on the course, you feel delightfully isolated; often all you can hear are the seductive sounds of the wind, the seagulls, the clinking of stays and the flapping of boat sails. Essentially, the course is a traditional out and back links; huge sleeper-faced bunkers, fast greens and that beautiful links turf. A magical place to play golf. However, three-ball play is only allowed at the discretion of the Secretary and four-ball play is forbidden.

“Few things are more terrifying than the first hole at Brancaster on a cold, raw, windy morning,” wrote Darwin, “when our wrists are stiff and our beautiful steely-shafted driver feels like a poker. There is a bunker – really a very big, deep bunker – right in front of our noses.”

Beware the weather at Brancaster though; it can take you by surprise. We played here in late spring and ignored the black clouds to the west. After all, we were on the 15th and the sun was shining. By the time we reached the 17th it was raining and by the 18th, we faced a full-blown tempest. When, soaked to the skin, we arrived to knowing smiles in the clubhouse, the wind gauge was fluctuating between 50 and 55mph.

If the above article is inaccurate, please let us know by clicking here

Reviews for Royal West Norfolk

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: Check the tide times before you plan your trip to Royal West Norfolk Golf Club, the course plays on a narrow strip of links-land which gets cut off at high tide, turning it into an island. Rating: 5.2884615384615 out of 6

I played Brancaster on a stormy day in late March 2013 and absolutely loved it. It’s everything you’d expect from an excellent links. It definitely has its share of quirk from the par 3 3rd hole to the par 4 9th and its approach over water with a big back drop to the blind approach on the par 5 10th hole. The more I travel and play golf the more I enjoy these features of classic courses that modern architects wouldn’t even consider or perhaps better said get away with designing today.

I’m sure the short reachable island fairway par 5 is a favorite of many visitors as it’s quite unique. I found it tough to choose the right club hitting both my driver and 3 wood too far on the wrong line to play the hole effectively in both the morning and afternoon rounds. Maybe next time.

The conditioning of the course was excellent, especially right after the winter. Playing fast and firm again exactly as you expect a links to be. Highly recommend adding a visit to any golf itinerary in the area.
September 25, 2014


See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Recently visited with 3 friends and played 36 holes. What a unique and delightful links course. Everyone we met was very friendly and helpful and we would recommend to anyone who enjoys links golf. We also played Hunstanton which was very good but would rate Royal West Norfolk higher.
April 26, 2012


See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Brancaster is nothing but old school from the moment you drive across the marsh you are stepping back into time. It is almost like you would expect to find Braid, Ball, Hilton, and or Vardon on the grounds perhaps playing a match with hickory shafts. A day spent here is a special day for any golfer, wearing plus fours here is like a requirement or at least a cap. Thank God there are no four ball matches here that said you better play fast. Stay out of the way of the member foursomes they will run you down. As you play the course you will notice the simplicity of the design yet the course is a real challenge with many excellent holes. So, be sure to make a date at this enjoyable club as it is a must play. The clubhouse is really neat too, they don't build them like this anymore. If the weather is nice bring your dog they are welcomed everywhere. In general golf would be better if they had more clubs and courses like RWN.
July 24, 2011


See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Along with Prestwick, the most interesting and quirky golf course I have ever played. Make sure you play it at high tide, when the water sweeps into the bay and transforms some fairways and greens into islands.
July 21, 2011


See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Played the course in mid May the day after Hunstanton. I have seen reviews preferring Hunstanton as a course and golf experience. Hunstanton is good but this course is in another world.

RWNGC takes your breath away from the time you drive through the reeds flanking the approach road.. The first 9 holes play away from the clubhouse generally with the benefit of the prevailing wind. The views are extensive across marshland inland and across dunes to the sea. The only sound is generally the whistling of the wind and the sound of club on ball. The enjoyment increases by hole until the 8th is reached which I think to be the best hole I have ever played. A shortish par 5 with an initial drive over marshland to a fairway at a right angle. Then to decide –along the fairway towards a summer house to finish with a short iron or cut the corner over more marshland to the green. Sublime. The 9th is also a classic par 4 requiring an accurate second shot to a raised green fronted by enormous vertical railway sleepers at the bottom of which lies hostile terrain.

The back nine plays generally against the wind. The par 3 15th of approximately 180 yards required a driver for most of the party I was with so the extent of the test on the return can be gauged. On days when the wind is up it would take a hearty constitution to want to play the course again in those conditions. All my party found the course more challenging than Hunstanton. All confirmed they would never forget the experience.

Downsides? The nature of the soft coverings on the fairways is a surprise and is different in constitution from most links. It is difficult to compress the ball and takes some getting used to. It also looks like the club are erecting a modern construction in the middle of the course which, at this stage, looks a complete eyesore and completely out of character with its surroundings. But seeing how the club has maintained its antiquity in all other areas I suspect there will be a plan ensure that the building does not interfere with the club’'s reputation.
May 18, 2011


See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Set out at one of the most remarkable places a golfer could ever hope to encounter, Brancaster is an absolutely charming course to play – even when faced, as I was a couple of days ago, with a 30mph wind all the way home from the 10th to the 18th! It really is a special place, which is evident as soon as you turn into the car park beside the weathered old clubhouse. I liked the quirkiness of the four old-fashioned fairway crossings at the 2nd and 17th, the 4th and the 5th, but, even more than that, I loved the sleepered bunkering that appears throughout the layout because (unlike one or two more modern courses that have employed such a design feature in recent years) it complements the landscape perfectly. Royal West Norfolk Golf Course - Photo by reviewerThe very short 4th is a brilliant par three, played to a green seemingly jacked up by railway ties and this was my favourite hole on the course – until I came to the unique pair of holes at 8 and 9 that play across tidal marshes. I’ve never before faced such naturally intimidating features (the tall rushes of Royal North Devon are probably the wildest I’d come across until then) and was glad I’d a strong wind at my back to help me make the long carries from the tee and to the green. Incredibly, I’ve since been told these holes are even MORE scary when the tide’s in, covering the marshes! The back nine was tough going, playing against the aforementioned sea breeze, but that didn’t stop me admiring the ferocity of the challenge at the par three 15th, where the tee shot has a long forced carry over the tallest wall of wooden sleepers that I’ve ever seen in my life – it must be all of 30 feet high! The downstairs Smoke Room in the clubhouse has to be the most informal club lounge I’ve ever relaxed in after a round – there’s even a dozen gents lockers located in one corner of the old room! Too bad that dogs which often accompany golfers out in the links have now been barred from sitting with their master as they enjoy a post match refreshment as that would just add to the laid back atmosphere of the place. By introducing a revised green fee structure this season, secretary Ian Symington hopes to steer more visitors into playing foursomes golf on the course and I must say that that golfing format certainly seems most appropriate for Royal West Norfolk. Jim McCann.
April 04, 2011


See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
1 person found this review helpful and 1 did not
Respond to above review
Have to say very disappionted. We played on the Friday of the Open when they had a wind delay and it was blowing 30mph in Norwich many flag sticks at 8 O'clock. The wind made thing very difficult but with burnt fairways it was difficult to navigate and fairly easy to play as there is little trouble of the T. A few holes were virtually impossible with the wind - but have to say way too high in the rankings, much prefered Sheringham and Hunstanton both played on the same trip.
July 26, 2010


See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
I played on a sunny and windless morning in April 2010, and doubt these conditions are replicated too often! As a result, the course probably played a bit easier for me than is the norm. Overall a wonderful, old-style, quirky links layout, with positively Olympic bunkering on several holes. Holes #8 and #9 have been widely and rightfully praised for their unique tidal flat character. Many other holes are memorable as well. After teeing off as a single, I wound up letting a group of four playing alternate shot golf pass through me just to be able to play at my "slower" pace (roughly three hours for 18 holes, so not dawdling badly) and drink in the traditional surroundings. The clubhouse is a trove of golf history and the members proudly showed me some memorobilia such as the century old Suggestion Book. A must-play course for any trip to this area.
May 12, 2010


See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Just recently went on a norfolk golf tour, planned to play Royal West Norfolk and Hunstanton. I have no idea why this course is ranked so highly. A large array of bland par 3's followed by short par 5's . Need a consistant straight drive on this course to master it. I play off 15 and shot an 83, overall good golf course.
April 13, 2010


See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Response
ron
May 16, 2010
I have no idea why this course is so highly regarded. Like Royal Dublin it is more or less 9 out in one direction and 9 back in the opposite direction. There the similarity ends. The Irish course is far better designed constructed and maintained. The club house in Dublin is far superior and all in all the Dublin course is a far better test of golf. I have absolytely no desire to return to Brancaster for golf.
Hugh
November 03, 2010
Give me Brancaster over Dollymount any day of the week. RWN is far superior to RD... not even comparable.
Having 2 really young children has put a curb on my golfing opportunities so when my wife told me to take a golfing holiday I jumped at the opportunity and planned a trip to Norfolk and Lincolnshire. Royal West Norfolk was first on my list of three courses (Hunstanton and Woodhall Spa being the other two - reviews to follow). Having a few weeks to plan meant that I booked a tee time, spent hours reading reviews about the course and building up my expectations. The drive to the course is special. As you wind through the reeds on the causeway, you can see the club house on top of the dunes in the distance and you start to get a feel for the isolation of the place. Being a lone golfer was an issue because of the two ball rule which RWN operate. When making my booking I did ask if they could pair me up someone else but it seems that no member would dare play alone and as such I made my way out by myself. The walk to the first tee is also unique. Crossing the sandy walkway to Brancaster beach, up the wooden pathway and through the wrought iron gates quickens your pulse in expectation. I was immediately met by a foursome coming off the 18th green with 3 dogs in tow. It seems that having a dog is almost mandatory for members. Dogs are allowed to run off the leash and each tee has a water bowl for their refreshment. I think this policy is refreshing and more clubs should think about adopting this. The course itself was slightly disappointing due to a lack of elevation changes that I would expect from a links course. The bunkering, though, is spectacularly beautiful and I was caught out a few times by bunkers which I could not see from where I was playing from. The huge bunker on the par 3 15th is especially fabulous. The routing of the course is good and you play to all points of the compass. The flatness of holed 7 to 11 make judging distances difficult and I found myself under clubbing quite a bit. I did play on a very benign day and the course was without its usual defense mechanism. The greens are small which means that you have to be very accurate with your approach shots. This is a solid links course but I do think that Hunstanton is a better course despite what the rankings might say. I did enjoy my day out despte playing alone and would recommend a round here to anyone who enjoys their golf.
November 09, 2009


See other reviews from this reviewer
Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review