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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.
People's memories tend if you can catch it in the sunshine it's a delightful place to play. The use of railway sleepers to edge deep (and some of the huge) bunkers is fun, and also protects greens on some of the shorter approach shots. Plays its best as a foursomes course - fast and ideal for matchplay; swap driving holes at lunchtime to experience every bit of the course. You can build a score on the way out, then things tighten up on the way back as you turn into the wind. It's impossible not to enjoy the views out over the huge sandy beach from the upstairs conservatory and several of the sea-wall tees. I much prefer it to Hunstanton, where the greens have still not recovered from their recent problems and are slow. Brancaster putted a bit slower this year after the wet summer, but is still superior. The only weak hole is really the short 13th, and the closing two holes are quite benign (a bit like the 18th at St Andrews). Excellent practice ground. Good old fashioned links golf in a beautiful corner of England.
Whilst overall it was a good course, I would have to say that I did not consider it a great course. The opening couple and closing hole, which share a fariway, were simply bland and there fore left you with a disappointing start and close. There are some excellent holes, like the Par 3 10th, Par 5 11th and Par 4 12th but overall not the quality I was expecting and some way short of the experience of Hunstanton or better still Sheringham which was an outstanding course.
As a test of golf maybe slightly below its neighbourHunstanton - played both in the same week.For an enjoyable experience, right up there with anything i`ve played,the salt-marshes,dunes and the famous dog bowl!Wow!At times there was no sign of human life just the sound of the gulls and the odd black labrador!An absolute treasure.
The best course I have played on, The whole place is fantastic. Try and play early and late, Just to see the differance the wind makes with the differnt tides. Would play here all the time if lived near by. Love the fact that they dont like slow play!