St. Christopher's Way,
- +44 (0) 1278 785760
1 mile N of Burnham-on-Sea
Handicap certificate required – contact in advance
Herbert Fowler, Hugh Alison, Harold Hilton, Dr.Alister MacKenzie, Harry Colt
Yesterday was our annual visit to B&B. A lovely day with a one-club wind.
The course was in very good nick, particularly the greens which have to be some of the truest in the country.
The first 5 holes are one of the best starts to any links golf course. Part of the appeal is that they look more difficult than they really are, unless it is really blowing, so you can actually get off to a confidence building start.
The criticism of the section from 7 onwards is largely unjustified, other than on 'character' grounds. 7 is a bit of a featureless slog, but 8 is a very good par 5, just not very 'linksy', and 9 is a terrific par 3. 10 is back into the dunes, and is a very blind tee shot, which I don't like, but it is a good hole. 11 is decent enough, but flat. From then on the course gets back into true character.
The two par 3s on the back 9 are unforgiving brutes and the 18th is a great finishing hole.
The clubhouse is very unstuffy for a course of this type, and the catering is excellent.
Burnham & Berrow is a quality layout with an exciting start. The opening hole has been mentioned a few times and rightly so. It's wonderfully positioned between flanking dunes and pity the golfer who allows one's nerves to overcome the execution of a swing -- albeit the first of the day. Opening holes need a proper balance given the order of the round and the 1st at B&B is exceptional.
The 2nd hole ups the meter -- especially on the approach shot. There can be little doubt on a golfer's part when the pin is placed in the deepest part of the green.
My main lone issue with B&B is the middle portion of the course which drops off in terms of architectural elements of note. The land for those holes is fairly non-descript with little really being especially memorable. They are not inferior holes per se, but simply don't have the pedigree encountered when the round commenced.
Things do change as you head back on the inward side. The land noticeably returns to the qualities experienced when you arrive at the long and demanding par-4 11th. At this point the magic that started the round returns with vigor. The land plays a major role especially in the approach area. The dog-leg left par-5 13th is especially a treat because just the slightest error can mean a fast bogey when birdie was sought. The two par-3's on the back are also uncompromising holes with fall-offs for any approach that fails to be hit with top quality execution.
The closing hole is also well done. The 18th mandates two quality shots to find the putting surface. Three pesky bunkers hug the right side and need to be avoided at all costs.
B&B is a layout that does not draw much national acclaim and it's often overlooked by those outside the UK. Clearly, the course deserves a higher recognition and for those getting the opportunity to play it will certainly enjoy the time here because B&B is no bed and breakfast layout. Be ready to play the moment you arrive at the 1st tee.
by M. James Ward
B&B is for sure a traditional British links; dunes in abundance, scenic views, true/fast/undulating greens, humps and hollows, pot bunkers and of course a stiff breeze !
The course itself isn’t particularly tight by some standards of links that we’ve previously experienced – but remains a stiff test of golf for the average player, as was demonstrated by our (11) scores. Certainly, knowing your way around the course would be a sizeable help too, as a few shots were blind or simply hard to figure out from the illusion of the layout from a few of the tees.
That said, if you like your golf, then B&B should be experienced. It really is a quality links course that was in immaculate condition from tee to green. There are numerous notable holes, which makes it hard to name specific ones, but suffice to say that reaching the green, or at least near to it, on your average course means you’ve negotiated the worst – not so at B&B. Lots of run-off slopes, humps, hollows and some of the greens were just begging for a 3-putt (or more!)
The course is definitely in the league of Saunton and Royal Cinque Ports but take you’re A-game if you want to play remotely near your handicap.
Just a word for the 9-hole Channel course that we played in the morning. If you can buy a day ticket then this course is worth a try. Its arguably tighter in places than its big brother but it’s a proper 9-hole in terms of length - and the holes in the stretch from 6-9 are worthy of the Championship course itself.
Our rating is around 5.5 - somewhere inbetween the top two scores available
The links at Burnham & Berrow begins at a pulsating pace and rarely lets up until the moment you reach the comfort of the historic 100-year-old clubhouse where you are able to relax and reflect.
This is true championship golf of the highest order with the opening three holes epitomising everything that is great and superior about links golf.
The tantalising glimpse of the first green through the funnel of dunes, that frame the slither of fairway, sets a wonderful and intriguing tone that resonates throughout the entire round. At this opening hole a drive that favours the left-hand side of the fairway is rewarded with a better view of the green but finding the putting surface is still no guarantee and a ball missing the green to the right can easily result in a bogey or worse thanks to a severe drop-off into a deep hollow.
After an exhilarating drive from a high tee at the second, to a billowing fairway below, you are posed with a similar dilemma where anything missing the green to the right will require a deft pitch, 'bump & run' or even a putt from the tightest of lies to a long, narrow and sloping green. Bunkers to the left magnify the precision required with this approach where only the straightest of shots will be rewarded with a birdie putt.
The third hole is a seemingly more generous driving hole but that sense of openness merely lulls the golfer into more lackadaisical thinking when they should be concentrating on hitting the left-hand side of the fairway to give the best angle of attack into a green located behind a high dune and set in a clover-shaped amphitheatrical dell. A drive down the left however must carry two menacing pot bunkers.
I struggle to recall a better opening three holes to a round of golf than those at Burnham & Berrow.
After playing Burnham & Berrow for the first time it has catapulted itself close to the top of my list of finest links golf courses. A second visit confirmed my initial impression.
There is also a relief nine at Burnham & Berrow; the Channel course. This is virtually the same as the main course but in miniature. The first five holes are played on flatter land close to marshland which separates the course from the sea before the final four make their way back through the dunes.
In truth none of this closing quartet would be out of place on the championship course and although not as long they have rolling fairways and fine green complexes, none better than the one at the short eighth. A quick loop of this course would be a fine way to introduce yourself to the delights of Burnham & Berrow.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
We played today in lovely sunshine and a 2 club wind. The greens were playing extremely true and quick (the Somerset Amateur championships were out earlier in the day), the staff are great, some big sand dunes, the dormy house very comfy, nice town, and yet and yet... The course reminds me of Aberdovey in that it seems to have all the ingredients of a great dish but lacked that certain something. I don't mind water hazards on a links course, Prestwick has similar, but the Channel holes were damp and crusty underfoot, with some dull holes around the turn. Excellent start and finish, some of the best greens I've played on and the other pluses previously just make it a five, but I sympathise with the reviewer criticisng the six ball reviews.
Very good golf course but not great. The reason is a couple of “ordinary” holes (the most inland holes, 11 to 13) which it seems afflicts a number of courses including Open venues. Some very good holes however including:- 3, 7 & 8 and a very good finish from 14 onwards.
Burnham is a quality track that tests every part of your game. You have to concentrate fully on every shot, from the first tee shot, which looks less daunting than it actually is due to the bottleneck fairway to the very last putt. Whilst I would agree that there are a couple of holes that are less visually appealing (7 and 11 spring to mind), they are certainly not weak holes at stroke index 1 and 2 respectively - try playing the 438 yard par 4 11th into the teeth, for example!
I love the start of the course – the first is a great opening hole and whilst the second looks like an easy tee shot, the approach is anything but, with runoffs and bunkers aplenty. The third offers something different with a blind approach shot, before the first real birdie opportunity on the par 5 fourth. Again, there’s a sting in the tail though if your approach shot doesn’t hit the green and this pretty much sums up Burnham and Berrow – there are very few safe misses. The middle section of the course changes character slightly and after the first of the picturesque par 3s, you go down to near the channel. This brings some seriously tough holes, with the 8th (the second par 5) being the only real scoring opportunity. The 6th has one of the hardest greens on the course, with run offs left and right, whilst the 7th is just a long slog of a par 4 – it’s not the prettiest, but it’s certainly not a walkover. Reaching the end of the front nine, you will have used most clubs in the bag and won’t have faced one weak hole. The back nine starts with a blind tee shot over an intimidating dune, before the aforementioned tough 11th hole. Without going through all of the remaining holes, you face a quirky par 5 where you may choose not to take driver, another two top par 3s and a closing hole that must rank up with the toughest in the country.
In short, Burnham is a real challenge, but a fair one. You won’t lose many balls, but the test is in the approach shots – there are few easy up and downs and you will hit a huge variety of shots. The weather plays its part as well; when the wind is up, it adds that extra level of difficulty. I don’t believe there to be a weak hole from a golfing point of view and whilst there are a couple that aren’t as aesthetically pleasing, you won’t find many better tests of golf.
I am tired of seeing people hand out 5 and 6 "ball" ratings to every course! I am writing this post to bring back the ratings to actually mean something. This course is a 3-4 Ball rating at best. Here is why, it isn't the caliber of a rare 6 ball rating like County Down, Ganton, or the experience of playing The Old Course. It isn't that of Saunton East, West Sussex, or Formby. The rating system is being devalued and 5 & 6 Balls don't mean much anymore. This course is good, that is it.
Though there are many wonderful holes in the magnificent dunes there are too many awful holes. The bad stretch starts at 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, with 13 and 14 getting better. These 7 holes of awful blah with the last two holes having a pulse beat (only because they are designed within the dunes but are not special). 9 is a nice par 3 out there all by itself...
The early holes and the closing holes are positioned beautifully within the dunes. Let's not get bonkers for this course, the only saving grace here are the magnificant sand dunes, the best holes on this course aren't going to take your breath away you'll just think to yourself "nice sand dunes." I played here a few years ago and the bunkering wasn't of championship stature, some quirkiness (too tight in places), nothing stood out to me except the dunes. I remember driving off from the car park wondering what all the fuss was about at B&B. Yes, it is a good course but lets keep it in proper relation to other courses.
Burnham and Berrow sometimes splits opinion and there’s nothing wrong with that, life would be dull if everyone agreed with each other.
You’ve reviewed Burnham and Berrow based on having played the course a few years ago. How many years is “a few years”? B&B has changed significantly (for the better in my opinion) since I first played it in 2003.
Our rating system could be improved by having a 10-point range rather than 6 points. It would then allow a little more flexibility. However, the Top 100 website is not a golf course directory. We only list, on average, the top 15% of golf courses throughout the world, therefore it’s no surprise reviewers’ ratings are weighted towards the positive.
I’ve played a few courses over the years and I agree that Burnham is not quite as good as those you mention. My review of B&B is posted directly below yours and it is based on a recent visit. I personally think it’s a notch better than you suggest, but I’m not going to split hairs.
The point I’m trying to make is that many golfers have played numerous courses, the vast majority of which will never feature on the Top 100 website. When a reviewer makes a post for any top ranked course, is he or she comparing the course against all the other “average” courses they have played (I’ve played hundreds of average to poor golf courses), or is the comparison made against the best of the best? Many golfers who are chasing a Top 100 list do not return to re-play many courses in the list, so their opinion is fixed based on their experience “a few years” ago.
Our rankings are based on the here and now, which is why the rankings change over time. Courses improve in all kinds of ways and they also go backwards from time to time.
It would be helpful therefore if you refrained from posting reviews for any courses based on outdated experiences. Keith Baxter, Editor-in-Chief
I joined Burnham in March this year as a second course and its well worth the hour i travel to get their.
based on the way ive always rated courses on here i would say its a 5 ball course, but its certainly better than a 4 ball!
I prefer Saunton (East) but dont see how you can rate it worse than West Sussex, they are completely different courses, and i personally think WS is massively overrated.
Burnham and Berrow is a course that does not immediately strike you as amazing. The entrance is uninspiring - a bit surburban - some holes seem a bit dull at first, etc. It does not wow you like pulling up at Saunton. But, play it half a dozen times and it starts to dawn on you why it is so highly rated. After visiting Burnham and Berrow now for many years, I totally agree with its very high ranking among the great courses of the UK and so do most well travelled golfers. It is beautiful, challenging, has an amazing start and finish, four fabulous par 3s and, in wind, it can be brutally tough. A 5 to 6 ball course without doubt.
I returned to Burnham and Berrow on Monday for the second time this year. The primary purpose of my visit was to play with Paul (aka Rudo) who many people will know from his blogging. Paul is set to become the first person to play the all-time World Top 100 ranked courses from every list. His marathon is nearly complete and I shudder to think how many air miles he’s racked up in the process. B&B appeared on Paul’s bucket list due to it being mentioned on perhaps the first ever World Top 100 – Tom MacWood’s 1939 Spoof Top 100, which listed 101 courses of which five no longer exist. Yes, Paul’s playing the MacWood chart too!
Monday’s weather was perfect for golf, sunny, warm and a two-club wind. I’m of the opinion that Burnham & Berrow is under appreciated. Some do not like the water holes before the turn which run alongside the Channel course, but put me down as one who does like these holes, which have been improved down the years – I’m not usually a fan of lakes and ponds on links courses. The holes I like the least are the “sleepers” (#10, #11 and #12) where I usually nod off because they are not visually appealing to my eye, especially off the tee – invariably I play these holes poorly. The rest of the course is pretty much from the top drawer and I’m a big fan of the one-shot holes which are not only strong but very attractive and expertly bunkered.
Unfortunately the greens were not in the best shape on Monday, having recently been verticut, but they ran reasonably well and had enough pace to keep you on your toes. It’s a shame Rudo didn’t see these putting surfaces at their best, because Burnham’s greens are usually among the best in the west. It remains to be seen whether or not Paul liked B&B enough to support its inclusion in a future World Top 100. My feeling is he thought it fun and relevant, only time will tell.
Only one word needed - magnificent.