The 36-hole golf facility at Barnham Broom lies within 250 acres of lovely Norfolk countryside, between Norwich and Dereham. Apart from the two 18-hole layouts, there are three practice holes and a driving range to help golfers keep their game in shape.
There’s also a 46-bedroom hotel on site – featuring leisure and fitness options, in addition to a pool, sauna and steam room – and this residential development offers all-year round stay and play options for the likes of couples or golf society members on a weekend away.
The Valley course was first to appear here in 1977 and it’s a Frank Pennink design, with several of the holes routed around the flowing waters of the River Yare as it winds its way through the property. Extending to 6,483 yards from the back tees, the course plays to a par of 72.
The Hill course arrived a decade later and it’s a little gentler than its older stablemate. Trees are a little less mature so it’s not as tight off the tee and there are fewer water hazards, though its still measures a not inconsiderable 6,391 yards from the back markers for a par of 71.
Highlight holes on the Valley include the 416-yard 3rd – where the river cuts diagonally across the fairway, around fifty yards short of the putting surface – and the 137-yard 7th, which plays through a narrow chute of trees from an elevated tee position to the green.
On the back nine, the 300-yard 12th is a terrific short par four – doglegging left over water and up to a green that’s benched into a little rise – and the 344-yard 16th offers a great birdie chance late in the round as the fairway falls down and narrows towards the green.
I was surprisingly impressed with the Valley course at Barnham Broom. A very interesting design with plenty of strong holes – with a little extra care and investment into a bunker program then we could see the course get plenty of good opinion from visitors. The county of Norfolk is likely to be headed by the four strong coastal courses for a while but the inland courses at Thetford and Kings Lynn are worthy of a mention and like I say with some TLC, the Valley course could join this group.
The first hole that I like is the 3rd; a 416-yard par-4 – a really strong hole where a big drive is needed – this then sets-up the approach. Here you need to play across the River Yare which crosses at 85 yards out and continues to the left and then behind the hole. This part of the hole reminds me of the outrageous 17th on the Championship course at Carnoustie.
The very next hole is a good-looking par-3 – 190 yards to a thin green with trouble on both sides, stroke index 5 tells the story.
I like the 6th hole too and like the 3rd hole is all about the 2nd shot – need to thread through the smallest part of the fairway – worth favouring the right side as the bank can help bring your ball back on line to the green. Next hole is another decent par-3 – here you are high up and the 137 yards will play shorter than this. I do think that the 8th is a hole that needs attention – the course planner doesn’t tell the full story – In my opinion the five fairway bunkers (group of three and then two) are mis-placed and are not of a decent standard; this could be a good hole but needs some attention currently. The front nine ends on a high, a par-4 under 400 yards with great use of the wetlands on the left about 100 yards from the green.
A short par-4 is a must on golf courses; the Valley’s 12th at 300 yards is a strong one – doglegging left and crossing water at 200 yards offers up more questions than answers – playing to a raised green is great fun too.
The course continues well at the 13th – a short par-5 with a couple of twists and turns to the green ensures that you need at least three good shots to have a chance to score well.
The set of better than average par-3’s on the Valley is obvious – the 15th another of these; this the shortest at 140 yards through a tunnel of trees is probably the best looking.
The Valley course ends on an ok note – a par-4 of modest length (350 yards) but lacks any drama – the hole turns slightly to the right but does not offer too much of a challenge – I would be thinking of defining the left side, where the resort apartments are situated, these need to be blocked out a little – not to spoil the view from these properties but to help with the look from the tee. I would also consider new bunkering on the dog-leg at staggered lengths.
A positive visit to play the Valley at Barnham Broom and there is obvious potential to upgrade parts of the course and to be part of a county Top 10 is certainly achievable.