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.
Date: December 21, 2016