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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.
How true the reference to ‘golf factories’. I have just enjoyed a wonderful 36 holes 2-ball with 3 friends at RWN. Both rounds under 3 hours, magnificent fish & chips for lunch and I remembered to bring some biscuits to leave for the members dogs. As I was playing, I sympathised with my poor brother suffering a corporate day at Celtic Manor with his boss. I wonder if foursomes has ever been played around that place?
I've played 12 of the Bristish Open venues but this is without doubt the best play to play golf in the British Isles. Everything oozes class. The drive to the clubhouse, the dog bowls outside, everything that golf should be. We played in June and the weather was perfect, you can't beat the top end of the course with the views over Brancaster Staithe. We had intended to play a second afternoon rounds as thetide was not coming in until 5pm. However, after a nice bottle of claret we decided to "draw to stumps". Best hole = 3rd. Highlight of day: the number of jolly members playing foursomes with their dogs. Low point - the old manually-written handicap board has gone!
September 09, 2010
As a member at Brancaster, I must say you've it the nail on the head with "everything that golf should be". It is not the biggest test of your game (except when the wind starts blowing over 30mph) but it has so much relaxed class that you'll wonder why other clubs are so stuffy, when it's clearly possible to have a fabulous club without it! Hunstanton is a tougher test of your golf, no doubt, but would I switch my membership - not on your nelly!!
As a test of golf there are better.As a golf club its probably the best i`ve ever been to.The total antithesis to all those golf "factories" that have helped ruin the sport. This like Royal County Down is a "must play" and i can`t think of anywhere i`d rather be a member of. Natural genius.
Brancaster, Royal West Norfolk as it’s officially known, is perhaps the most charming place to play the great game anywhere in the world. It has something of Elie and Crail about it, those Scottish east coast layouts which are partly holiday courses and partly tests good golfers might also enjoy. But such comparisons are perhaps pointless; Brancaster is unique. It’s arguably not as serious a course as nearby Hunstanton. But most people, myself included, would rate this one more highly. The eighth and ninth are two of the greatest holes I can think of. Standing on the tenth tee, the furthest point on the course, those two fabulous holes just completed, listening to the creaking of masts in the harbour from boats on a rising early autumn tide: not much is better. I’ve been lucky enough to play the course during a supremely high swell. The great eighth becomes a series of islands to play between. Natural water hazards appear on the ninth too. The fairways narrow and the course takes on a new character. It’s a smart set which plays its golf here. The morning of a high tide sees any number of Majors and their families drinking champagne at 7am from the back of their estate cars while all around them fills with sea water and the road to the course becomes unpassable for a few hours leaving them with their own private sea island playground. It’s none the worse for this. Visitors are welcome and drinking a bitter shandy and eating a pint of prawns on the balcony afterwards those Majors will no doubt be altogether cordial. ANGLOSCOT
Where do you start with RWNG. In 20 yrs of playing golf I have not found a more remarkable setting for a course -squeezed inbetween the sea and tidal marshes. In many ways you feel transported back to the middle of the last century-the old clubhouse with a slight acrid smell and a main room that you feel hasn't changed since time began. The welcome was friendlly and for £75 we felt good value.The course was quiet and for 36 holes we never had to wait to play any shot. The front nine was played with the prevailing wind and although much longer on the scorecard was considerably easier.Indeed you might feel you will have one of those magical rounds after you reach the 9th green ( I know I did on both occassions) but the back nine just picked up my scorecard and tore it to shreds us . Holes 3-11 are fantastic but there really isn't a weak hole on the course although I accept maybe 18 is a bit of an anti-climax after what has gone before.Holes 8-9 around the marshes are just something totally alien to anything I have played before. I know other reviewers have called it quirky which I suppose it is with sleepers and its location but I found it much fairer than I expected and good shots were rewarded and bad just thrown off the greens into the cabbage. Overall a wonderful location for a day's golf (make sure you order your lunch before you start your round).
RWN is hit and miss for a first time player. I would consider this club to be seriously under stated and simple from first glance however there is a lot more to RWN than one might gather after just one visit. It all starts with securing the hard to get tee time at this exclusive club. The drive up to the course is something you will likely not experience anywhere else drive slow to take it all in. The clubhouse is old, very old, and comes with a nice beach front and bay views. I will never forget the mens locker room / lounge area as dogs are allowed in and are commonly seen running all over the club and course grounds. Love that! As you walk to the first tee you are having to hike through beach sand, then on a cool wooden boardwalk through a serious iron gate. As you approach the first tee their is a large sign that reads something to the effect of two ball games only (move it lose it). Love that too! This is a very traditional club so be prepared to play two ball and foursomes. (Golf should be played in no more than 3 to 3½ hours anyways, pro golf is setting a bad example for the rest of us). Once on the course you will see a golf course that is rather basic looking there aren't any of today's design features (blunders). RWN isn't strewn with bunkers, gorse, or monumental carries. There are some blind shots and some creative routing of holes that you would never see in today's game design but those quirky things make the course even more intriguing. I want to say that Pete Dye visited Brancaster once upon a time as his railroad tie work closely resembles RWN's. The ground game does come into play on most holes and there at least a few holes where it is the best way to approach. The course is scenic with the bay on one side and the channel on the other. I got the impression that this a St Andrews like course with its simplicity, (for the most part) flat terrain, and all the of the holes crammed into a tight strip of links ground. This is another "design important" course that should be studied by todays course architects. Each hole appears to be basic at first look but each presents its own challenge. I really enjoyed my day of 36 holes here, the members were welcoming, and the memories will live on. Thanks!
February 15, 2009
As editor of this site, I rarely comment on course reviews but the above review is not only one of the best, but also one of the most measured. Royal West Norfolk is a monument and, a little like Prestwick, North Berwick, the Old course and Royal North Devon, it's a layout that should be studied by everyone interested in golf course architecture. I'd like to say thanks to Max for posting another engaging course review. Please keep them coming!
Played on the 29th September, arrived in the lane to wait for the tide to go out. Arrival at a very old and "back in time" club house with a friendly atmosphere.Pro shop was well stocked and also friendly. The course is in fantastic condition and you have to play it once to know where you are going and where to place the ball. Make your score on the way out as it appears the wind is tougher on the return which it was on the day that I played at 24 mph. I thoroughly enjoyed the morning round, and went in for a plate of fish pie, before returning to play in the afternoon. The greens were rolling perfectly and with the wind behind again the scores were better on the front nine with many holes over 400 yards. Thankfully we didn't hit too many bunkers as they are places where you get lost in. A fantastic day and I cannot wait until I return.
A truely excellent golf course. Immaculate condition and a pleasure to play. Some very testing holes, and some hugely deep bunkers, which I was thankful not to find.We played on a perfect but chilly day, with good playing conditions but when the wind gets up I would say it would be a very difficult course to play.5* Links at its best!!!
If you don't like this place then you don't like golf. It's on of the best golf course i've played. It kicks Hunstanton into touch along with a good few other famous links and much more high profile courses. It is quite possibly the most fun you can have on a golf course. Throw the scorecard away and get creative. The bunkers are amazing fun and almost dare you to aim for them. The entire experience of the club house and the location makes for a treat of a day out. I found the condition of the course fantastic with smooth and quick enough greens. You know you are somewhere very special as soon as you arrive and if you need reminding check out the past captains board. Enjoy.