Burnham & Berrow (Championship) - Somerset - England

Burnham & Berrow Golf Club,
St. Christopher's Way,
Burnham-on-Sea,
Somerset,
TA8 2PE,
England


  • +44 (0) 1278 785760

  • Golf Club Website

  • 1 mile N of Burnham-on-Sea

  • Handicap certificate required – contact in advance


“Hole succeeds hole, and still the endless range of hills goes on, and from the summit of each one we get the most lovely views, with the Cheddar Gorge in the distance; to the left the Bristol Channel, with the islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm and an expanse of dim country on the other side. When we turn for home at the ninth, we see the sandhills stretching tumultuously away towards Weston, with their range of fantastic shapes and occasionally a narrow, meandering ribbon of turf in between.” Burnham in “Somersetshire” was a favourite course of Bernard Darwin, and so, it seems fitting to allow him to introduce Burnham & Berrow.

Burnham & Berrow Golf Club was founded in 1890 and soon after, they hired a youngster called J.H. Taylor. His task was to be the club’s first professional and keeper of the greens. One of the great triumvirate, Taylor went on to win the Open Championship five times.

Charles Gibson, professional at Royal North Devon, laid out the original rudimentary course for the members. According to the book by Phillip Richards, entitled Between the Church and the Lighthouse: “The development of the course took thirty years to reach today’s shape and just about every one of the leading course designers during that period had an input into the course architecture. Herbert Fowler and Hugh Alison were members of Burnham and both had an important part to play in improving the links. So to a lesser extent did Harold Hilton and Dr. Alister MacKenzie but the shape of today’s course is mainly due to Harry Colt.”

There is a church in the middle of the course and that in itself is unusual. Consequently over the years, changes have been made to the layout ensure that the faithful congregation does not get injured by wayward shots; additionally, some of the blind drives have been designed out.

Burnham is a traditional out-and-back links course and as per Darwin’s introduction, taken from his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, Burnham is “ringed round with sandhills”, gigantic ones too. It’s a challenging layout with the tumbling fairways laid out in narrow valleys, protected by deep pot-bunkers and thick rough. The greens are fairly small, requiring precision approach shots and once you are on the putting surface, the fun really begins. Burnham’s undulating, slick greens are amongst the very best in the British Isles.

There are many notable and varied holes at Burnham, with a strong collection of par threes. The first six holes are especially good and the back nine is magnificent. Burnham closes with a classic 18th, one of the best finishing holes in golf, a dogleg left over dunes and an intimidating long second shot across another ridge of dunes towards a green protected by deep threatening pot-bunkers.

Burnham has played host to many important amateur championships over the years and the course is regularly used for Open Championship qualification. A round at Burnham & Berrow is an absolute must for links purists and comparatively good value too for such a quality course in these times of escalating green fees.

Tom Doak made a point of replaying Burnham & Berrow (Championship) in 2016 and awarded the course a rating of six out of ten. He commented as follows in his Christmas 2017 Confidential Guide update:

“My one previous experience at Burnham was on a cold rainy day in the winter of 1982; however a recent return visit proved that I had seriously underestimated the course. The three opening par-4’s are a cracking start, with the approach to the punchbowl 3rd green one of the last remaining vestiges of the bold blind holes described by Bernard Darwin in 1910. The short 5th is one of the UK’s finest, and you would not be able to convince a soul walking off that green that it is in fact the easiest of the four par-3’s on the course. Some of the holes have a more modern feel, due to the water in play at the 6th through 8th and the very steep banks off the edge of the greens at the 13th and 14th. But my previous review that there aren’t any must-see holes was emphatically wrong: holes like the 11th and 15th were the reward for going back.”

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Reviews for Burnham & Berrow (Championship)

Average Reviewers Score:
Description: Burnham & Berrow Golf Club has played host to many important amateur championships over the years and the course is regularly used for Open Championship qualification. Rating: 8.3 out of 10 Reviews: 70
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Brian Molko

A great test from any tee! Great condition and it appears they are adding new bunkers and rebuilding some holes. While maybe not at the level of others links courses in the southwest like Saunton et all its a great golf course. Truly fantastic set of par 3’s. One let down appears to be the snootiness of the members. As a visitor it was more of a “what are you doing here” welcome than a friendly one

September 11, 2021
6 / 10
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Dave Scaum

Played today. The pro shop was well stocked, with helpful and informative staff. Quality practice facilities. Played with a low handicapper who was preparing for a big comp there the next day. Starter was a nice bloke who offered advice. Course was immaculate. The greens were superb and true. I played off the purple tees which was enough of a test for me but with 5 different tee options there is a test for everyone. The views were unbelievable. Would definitely recommend to anyone.

September 01, 2021
9 / 10
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Dan Binfield

We played the Championship course at Burnham and Berrow on a warm summer evening, with few others out on the course. It is by far the best course in the area, but I suspect that one would find fewer finer examples of links golf anywhere in Britain. Looking up the first hole the quality of the links is evident, the hole being framed by sand dunes which make finding the fairway a challenge. Those who do are rewarded with a wedge into a fantastic green complex which blends into the surroundings beautifully. This continues on the next two holes; they are played between the dunes and have two different but splendid greens: the third being a fine example of a punchbowl green, but a special mention to the second; the 100yds or so into the green is simply stunning and I question whether there is a better example anywhere in golf.

The front nine continues in this vein and I don’t believe that there is a single weak hole on this outward half. All of the holes are a joy to play. I would not want to spoil the surprise so I will highlight only the ninth; this one-shotter is a great example of a links par three; it blends effortlessly into its surroundings, and challenges the player to hit an accurate shot with a mid iron to find a putting surface guarded by five bunkers. Once there the player is greeted with a wonderful green with many subtle borrows.

The quality of the back nine is no less than that of the front; although the blind drive at the tenth is perhaps a little too extreme for my own liking and particularly on my first visit without a course planner to hand, the hole was not quite as enjoyable as the others. The following hole is a fabulous long par four and provided probably my favourite green complex on the course. All of the holes on the run home from here are fantastic but I will highlight the thirteenth, a par five requiring two solid blows to reach the green and framed very nicely by the dunes, the fifteenth with another great green, a strategic choice off the tee as well as a beautifully crumpled fairway, and the closing hole; two accurate and well-shaped shots are required to find the green on this long two-shotter.

In the summer the course was presented in phenomenal condition; the putting surfaces ran true and the fairways were a joy to hit from. All of the green complexes on the course are superb and at this time the course was an inspiring place to be; every shot in the arsenal was required and I found that creativity coupled with accuracy was handsomely rewarded; with plenty of run on the ball; there was ample opportunity to make use of the ground game as well as a place for high flying shots. However, I suspect that the course condition will be excellent in winter as well.

The wind was not very strong on the day we played and yet scoring was far from easy; I would think that the vast majority of first-timers at Burnham would have a hard time playing to their handicap, and when the course bares its teeth I am sure that the challenge will be increased greatly.

Overall this is a must-play course and stands as a fine example of how links golf should be played. Although not cheap, the green fee is reasonable and significantly less than other courses of similar quality. One will find few examples of links golf better than this anywhere in the world, and they certainly would not equal the value offered at Burnham.

August 28, 2021
9 / 10
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JP

Clear blue skies, a gentle breeze and the setting sun over the Bristol Channel were the perfect ingredients for a magical summer twilight round around B&B.

As mentioned previously, the opening several holes are tremendous and links golf in England at its finest. The 8th, 10th, 11th and current par 3 12th (they're in the process of creating a par 4) are a little weaker but the holes pick up considerably again until the finish with quite a daunting approach shot to the 18th green - especially when there are lots of spectators enjoying drinks on the terrace.

I particularly enjoyed the numerous elevated tees, which provided a wonderful panoramic view over the Bristol Channel, Welsh coastline and Somerset countryside, although I imagine I would have thought very differently if exposed to wind and lashing rain!

The greens were in good condition, albeit a little slower than I'm used to and had some interesting breaks.

I'm a proud member of Rye but am really surprised that B&B is ranked a couple of spots below it on this site. Although I've only played it once in glorious conditions, I'd have put B&B higher than its other English links counterparts at Rye, Brancaster or even St Enodoc (one of my favourite courses), which is currently ranked 10th on this site.

July 16, 2021
8 / 10
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Tony Daley

We played Burnham & Berrow on a very windy afternoon in late August, taking advantage of the opportunity to stay in the on-site dormy house and play the channel course the next morning.

The main championship links is a traditional ‘out and back’ layout and we were told by the members on the putting green to make the most of the conditions on the front nine with the wind at our back.

The first hole is a daunting tee shot, with the clubhouse and practice green to the left and the eighteenth green to the right. The starter gave us our line “start it on the dunes to the right and let the wind bring it back into the fairway” and we were away. The first few holes were truly excellent. The punchbowl green on three was excellent fun and there are elevation changes a-plenty.

The par five fourth takes you down onto a flatter part of the course and you spend time down on this level from the sixth to the eighth. Water comes into play on these holes too which, with the wind, added another element of complexity.

The ninth is a truly special par three, playing back towards the headwind. Ten is a blind tee shot and once you round the dunes onto the fairway the wind hits you in the face. The day we played, it was relentless. Eleven and twelve play parallel to a housing estate and are probably the weakest holes on the course (and some of the most difficult). They were also re-developing 12 when we played so it did look a bit of a building site when we visited. Thirteen was a brute of a 550 yd par five that with the wind felt like it played closer to 650yds, it had a great narrow green and felt like you were back within the dunes. The fifteenth is another strong par four but playing into the wind was immensely difficult at over 400yds. The sixteenth plays back down towards the housing before you climb to the elevated tee for the brilliant seventeenth par three. The eighteenth is a really strong closer, requiring a strong tee shot into the wind and a long second shot down towards the green.

Some really strong holes here but our experience was marred by the conditions which made the back nine a real slog. I’d recommend Saunton East over B&B in the South West links but it is well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

December 26, 2020
7 / 10
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Alex

My strongest and most favourite memories of this course are from supporting my brother in the West of England Schools’ Championships for Radley College, a squad I couldn’t get into myself. Clambering over the dunes to watch my brother go unbeaten over several years of match-play was great to watch. I had such fun supporting his teams and socialising with them and their golf coaches; ‘Wee-Man’ Kevin Reed and Open Qualifier PGA-Pro Adam Wootton.

Burnham-on-Sea and Berrow are two very sleepy west of England coastal ‘towns’. However, Burnham & Berrow Golf Club sits between the two and is a main source of tourism in the area. BBGC was founded in 1890 and soon after, they hired a young JH Taylor to become the club’s professional and keeper of the greens. BBGC is a traditional out-and-back links course consisting of a challenging layout of tumbling fairways, narrow valleys, protected by deep pot-bunkers and thick rough.

The second hole is the signature hole. A 394-yard par 4 from an elevated tee, looks down over a narrow undulating fairway towards a narrow green with a harsh run off to the right. A complete links test.

I really should visit BBGC more often, as the green fees are standing firm against the astronomical rise of other links green fees. This course is fun. It does not receive enough praise. I recommend all to visit, and if you are, then Walton House B&B is where you stay. Pat and Phil are saints and will look after you and your clubs very very well!

October 22, 2020
8 / 10
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Alan

A lockdown UK staycation led us to the southwest and, via the reviews here, to Burnham & Berrow. First thing to say is how welcoming the staff were - from booking through the pro shop to the lady serving behind the bar (who produced superb bacon rolls) and finally to the starter who hails from Broughty Ferry. Thanks to them we were in a good mood even before setting off. B&B is a fine course in a special setting (the new nuclear power station at Hinckley Point apart). It’s not an especially tight course but wayward tee shots are punished in thick vegetation. The par 3s are as described. So the simplest thing to say is this - we’ll be back.

September 23, 2020
7 / 10
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Rob S

Golf society day out on the Championship course, and wow what a course.. having read lots of these reviews we were really looking forward to the challenge.. and it didn’t disappoint. The front nine in fairness make this course, truly magnificent links at its best, the greens are brilliant and a real test but keep it out of trouble and they offer a good chance.

We played with mild conditions and between us the highest stableford score was 31, so when the win picks up maybe a different ball game.

The back nine didn’t quite live up to its earlier holes, the feeling was that it offered one or two decent holes but felt all to similar, tough yes, but similar. Very long course with quite a few blind tees and long par threes.

Overall a joy to play, few very minor niggles from the group of 20, so we’ll worth a visit when in the region. Recommended

September 15, 2020
8 / 10
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T P Dean

Burnham & Berrow has everything. And I mean that. It has everything. A beautiful clubhouse and a great practice area, views out to the Severn Estuary, rolling lumpy fairways, large undulating greens, big imposing dunes - sometimes you go over them, sometimes you go in between them, doglegs, short and long par threes, tempting par fives, strong bunkering, raised tees, both sunken and elevated greens, not one but two monument backdrops (a church and a lighthouse), lots of variation and excellent conditioning. Yet I’ve played here twice now and I just can’t fall in love with the place.

I’ve been beaten to shreds on both visits, making a mockery of my single figure handicap. There’s no doubting Burnham is beautiful, but it’s just brutal. Go offline and your ball can be buried in thick, punishing rough - width and angles is not a concept that was invented at Burnham. Without repeating too much of the reviews that have gone before me, holes 1 to 5 and 14 to 18 play through the best of the dunes whilst you associate the holes in between with flatter wetland areas, although new dunes are in the process of being constructed on the 12th. The short 9th however is in a class of its own and breaks up this slightly inferior stretch, but then again, all of the par threes at Burnham are very strong.

Some of the fairway mowing lines such as those at 10 and 15 are a little odd as they seem to favour the shorter hitter and steer you away from what I felt was the ideal line, but this is made up for by the excellent threes and 14 and 17 as well as the superb green site at 16.

Like a well beaten boxer that’s had a couple of standing eight counts and is being held up by the ropes in the final round, the walk down the 18th is one that can leave you feeling slightly bruised and battered and thankful to be back at the clubhouse. Yet when I played the other week in bright sunshine, I looked behind myself on the final green to see the beautiful links ground over which I’ve just played and scratched my head. Maybe I’ll have fun next time? Maybe my game is just not good enough? Still a bloody good course though.

July 24, 2020
8 / 10
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Neil White

"It's an adder!" Never before has a search for a ball ended as abruptly as it did on the par 5, 4th hole at Burnham & Berrow. My only previous encounter with a snake was spotting a black mamba hanging precariously from a tree while on safari in South Africa. This was rather less exotic Somerset and, thankfully, this reptile was curled up, either asleep or dead. I wasn't prepared to find out, so I trudged back to the tee, never having been so willing to declare a ball lost.

Serpent interlude apart, Burnham and Berrow lived up the billing of previous reviews - a superb links with an emphasis on precision driving and a requirement to read its dramatic contours.

Oh, and there is the wind. During the first nine it was in our faces and made an already tough track very testing for the uninitiated. At our back after the turn, the danger was overshooting the glorious greens.

My pre-match recce involved watching narrated videos of the links. Sky Sports commentator John E. Morgan extols almost every hole as 'being a beauty'. He is right. They all have individual charm and challenges and many have superb views. He adds that several are 'fraught with danger'. I can play Dr Watson to his Sherlock Holmes and confirm that analysis but I would also say that between us, my partner and I scored well on almost every hole so they do give you a chance... UNLESS you find yourself in the face of the left-hand bunker next to the 5th green. After three pathetic attempts to extricate my ball, I realised I would only get out with the help of an excavator. Nevertheless, there were enough fine moments to make me want to return but, hopefully, the next time the snake will have slithered off.

July 07, 2020
8 / 10
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