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)

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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: 8.2 out of 10 Reviews: 74
TaylorMade
Anthony Daniels
Burnham and Berrow was the chosen location for a Christmas round of golf for my dad, my brother and me. And an excellent choice it was too. We played on 17th December in biting cold conditions with a stiff breeze coming of the sea, albeit on a glorious sunny winter's day. The welcome in the club house and pro shop was low key, professional and warm. Everyone around the place seemed relaxed yet oozing the confidence that a golf course of sheer class will allow you to have. After a much needed coffee and bacon sandwich the first tee beckoned.

The first hole seems to tease you into believing you're in for a nice gentle stroll by the sea. Don't be drawn in by this gentle starter though as what comes next is as brutal a test of your skills as you will find for many a mile. The 2nd and 3rd are not particularly long holes but when played straight into the teeth of the aforementioned stiff breeze, they seem like quite a trek, with multiple undulations over sand dunes and plentiful pot bunkers waiting to gobble up any shots hit slightly off line. Take some time to savour the views from the 4th tee - they are spectacular, out across the Severn and over to Wales. Although this par 5 is not the longest in the world there are several elevation changes which make you think about your club selection, and make sure you aren't above the hole as you could well putt off the green and 50 back down the hill. The 5th appears simple, but club selection must be spot on once again. The 6th is a very pretty par 4, again with devilish bunkers positioned expertly around the green. 7 and 8 are monsters that look straight forward enough, but the subtle burrows, borrows, mounds and ridges on both holes make them a delight to play and once again stress the importance of hitting your ball to the right segment of fairway and green - classic links holes. The 9th is a lovely little par 3 and finally gives you some respite from the wind as it turns away from the sea (2 to 8 all play in the same direction along the line of the shore).

The 10th begins with a blind drive over a monster dune reminiscent of those at Saunton and St Enodoc. If you hit the fairway there's a good chance of making par or better. If there is a weak hole on the course, then 11 is it. For me it was just a bit bland and not as difficult as the SI2 suggests. However, the 12th more than makes up for it. This is the signature hole because of the church that stands some 20 yards left of the approach to the green, as if it were a sentry standing guard. The hole plays all uphill to the church and then there is a deep hollow that must be carried in order to reach the two tier green. Once again, it's about putting the ball in the right place. Do this and you can score well around B&B. The 13th is the third and final par 5, and plays as a dogleg left from the tee, although this may be reduced as another tee was being built further back and right of the current location. The approach to the green is superb, as you negotiate a narrow gap and trying to stay as staright as possible to avoid the nasty little run offs left and right that inevitably lead to trouble. 14 plays alongside the houses as you head back towards Burnham. Don't dare miss the green on this par 3, or bogey will start to look like a good score. The 15th is another smashing par 4, with a narrow fairway threading it's way through the dunes and another narrow approach to the hugely undulating green. The variety offered by this approach shot is a nice feature, as the green is set lower than the level of the fairway allowing you to run the ball in, whereas many of the other greens are raised and demand shots to be flown all the way. More variety awaits at the 16th as this short par 4 is driveable if the wind is at your back. The green is possibly the most eccentric I have ever seen with a 45-degree bank running right through the middle of it, and it just so happened that the pin was right at the bottom of it. Muggins here managed to hit his approach to the upper level and was very pleased to still be on the green for my second putt! The 17th is a beast of a par 3 and the 18th is one of the finest finishing holes around. It is flanked by probably the highest dunes on the course, nestled between which is a very narrow fairway. A long second shot is required to a huge and very flat green ideally located right in front of the majestic old clubhouse.

Whilst this course is fantastic in all aspects, a special mention must be for the greens - they were the fastest and truest I have ever played. I can't wait to try them in the summer. I can guarantee two things when you walk off after the handshake, 1) you will have had bags of fun, and 2) you will be mentally and physically drained. Therefore, it's a fine thing that the beer and food in the clubhouse is good. The mince pies were particularly good with a decent dollop of clotted cream just to remind you that you're in the West Country. Well, it was Christmas, after all!
February 22, 2010
10 / 10
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lexo
February 24, 2010
The greens were ''the fastest and truest you have ever played on'', on the 17th Dec! I wonder what you will think when you go back to B+B (or any other links course) in the summer!
Anthony Daniels
February 27, 2010
I was amazed by the quality of the greens. I played St Enodoc and Saunton last summer and the greens at both were immaculate but B&B were better. It'll be interesting to compare them to RSG in March and some of Scotland's links courses in July.
Nick
March 01, 2010
Along with Hunstanton, Burnham & Berrow had the best greens in England and as good as any in the UK. They used to feed the greens with blood, fish and bone but health and safety put paid to that. Burnham & Berrow's greens are still super but, sadly, Hunstanton's have declined in the last 20 years or so in my opinion.
Tom Sleater
Burnham and Berrow is a fabulous golf course that is an extremely difficult test. The views are spectacular and the scoring is tough. The par 3's are very good particularly on the back nine and the closing 17th and 18th make it a memorable finish. I would highly recommend and the rating of this course I believe does not do it justice - add to your wishlist.
October 11, 2009
10 / 10
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Carl Tushingham
What a super course this is, starts of with three excellent par 4's of varying length and difficulty. Very pretty front 9, something you don't usually associate wth links golf. Was lucky enough to play here on a warm, calm day, must be tough in a proper wind. The whole condition of the course was superb, particulary the greens they are a pleasure to putt on. My only slight disappointment was that there were no course planners on my visit which made it tough as there isn't many yardage markers on the course, and theres no help with pin placements. Brilliant course, like time has stood still here.
August 24, 2009
10 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
One of the great coastal courses in England without a doubt. There is plenty of variation in the holes to keep interest levels high, there are sea views and the greens are beautiful to putt on. I read a comment on an earlier review about the 7th hole, I have to disagree…for me it is the weakest hole, the only reason that it is SI-1 is that is a very long par-4, there is nothing other than the length that is difficult – it has to be the easiest bogey hole I have played for a long time. At SI-1, only a very small % of golfers should be parring this hole. The 10th hole is really good, blind drive and then a mid-iron to a green dog-legging right (just watch the marker post though; it is the line from the white tee and definitely not the yellows). I agree with most that the back-9 is the stronger and like I said at the beginning, this is a great coastal course. Recommended
July 06, 2009
8 / 10
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Sam Baldwin
Very, very impressed with this course. I have played a good variety of links golf and can say that the back 9 here is one of the toughest. You have to be straight, accurate and long to score well. The front nine is probably the prettiest, with very nice views of the sea but saying that the back nine has some classic links views. Not as grand as Formby and Hoylake but certainly compares in quality. Worth a go if your into links golf and in the area.
June 14, 2009
6 / 10
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Andy
June 22, 2009
Wow - just the 4 stars, eh! Possibly not as grand as Formby and Hoylake but Burnham & Berrow matches them for toughness and the dunes are much more "mountainous". However, all three courses are somewhat different in character even though all are classified as Links (not that sure that Formby is that "linksy" though). How good has a course got to be to merit 5 or 6 stars, given that you are very very impressed by B&B?
Sam
June 29, 2009
I did it 5 but the website for some reason gave it 4.It's worthy of 5. When you get to Hoylake and Formby you are nearly blown away by the clubhouse and 'feel' of the place. Awesome course though, impressed with the back nine especially.
Craig Sparrow
A back 9 to die for. We played in very mild conditions and as the course is out and in I can only imagine the havock the wind could play. we chatted to a number of members and the day before they had been blown off the course. Outstanding greens, wonderful scenery, a proper tough test of links play. Would benefit from additional markers for play from the tee on the back 9. Very difficult to assess the correct placement as a first time player, although the members were unsure of this as the effectiveness of the markers would be totally dependent opon the distance you hit the ball. Excellent warm and relaxed hospitallity as well. Well worth the visit.
April 27, 2009
8 / 10
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Emil
April 28, 2009
I agree with your treview (and everyone elses)but I think the first nine might be even better than the 2nd. I also think that the green contours are some of the weakest on any links. Other than that, the course is perfect. More than just well worth a visit!
Sean Arble
April 30, 2009
Emil ?I am astonished that you think the greens were "weak". I can rattle off several holes which have plenty of contour and slope. I will admit that with the exception of #16 none of the greens seem terribly difficult to deal with, but with the expected wind which rips up the Channel there is more than enough going on with the greens to challenge the handicap player. If you remain unconvinced, please, have a game with me as my guest. I am sure we could have an interesting conversation even if our golf is less than stimulating.
Emil
April 30, 2009
We can go on discussing on GCA ;) (your photo tours are great) Here's my point with the greens: A lot of them seemed (to my not very trained eye)rather planned than evolved. The 9th green is GREAT for my taste. The contours look random and fit into their surroundings much better, and secondly; approaching the green is real fun with any wind. Other than than the greens, I think B&B has, along with St. Enodoc, the best architecture in the south-west. St. Enodoc is just 5 times as spectacular...
Sean Arble
July 01, 2009
EmilYes, many of the greens do exhibit the hand of man. However, these are some of the best hands that have ever practiced architecture; Fowler, Colt & Alison. I believe B&B suffers from golfers having a lack of appreciation for subtlety. For instance, the 7th, a straight away par 4 over flat ground is I think one of the best holes on the course because of the use of the ridge not far in front of the tee. This ridge leads all the way through the green and has a fairway bunker under its fold. This simple combination of a single bunker and how it relates to which side of the ridge the hole is located completely dictates play, but most walk off with a bogey or worse and wonder why.
Emil
July 12, 2009
As I said, I REALLY liked he course, its design AND the subleties, the 7th being probably my favourite hole on the course. It's just the greens that just didn't appeal to myself, that's subjective. Overall there is no doubt that some men of genius had their hands in the design of B&B.
Nick Rice
Surely there is no tougher course in the UK. Even the less visually spectacular holes, e.g. 7 and 11(ironically strokes 1 and 2) present big challenges. The views on the outward 9 and the last few holes are fabulous from the elevated tees. I have seen very good golfers brought to their knees by Burnham & Berrow (even with little wind) and it is too tough for anyone not bringing their best game with them. But that should not scare you off, the challenge is great fun and when you relax with a beer in the Clubhouse afterwards, you will want to have another crack at it as soon as possible. The course should get more recognition, and the prestigious tournaments for which it has been selected over the next two years, should move it up the rankings to the position it deserves.
February 04, 2009
10 / 10
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Young P
February 05, 2009
Sorry but it is an absurd overstatement to suggest there is no tougher course in the UK than Burnham and Berrow. In my experience alone, Carnoustie, Royal St David's and Rye are in a different league in terms of difficulty. But the ultimate irony is you only need to ask the members at Burnham and Berrow – because virtually every one I've met has told me that the adjacent excellent 9 hole Channel Course is actually a tougher track to score on than the Championship Course (and I can testify to this too). 'Young P'
Nick Rice
February 06, 2009
OK, Young P, it is all about experiences. I do not find Rye, Carnoustie and Royal St Davids as tough - each to his own. I have played every links course in GB and Ireland worth listing and Burnham & B hits the right note. It's tough, visually exciting and always in great condition.......and the Green Fees are very reasonable. But you are right about the Channel Course at B & B. The difficulty is down to the sea marsh aside the fairway for the first 4 holes. If you draw the ball and there is a easterly blowing - forget it! Burnham & Berrow is tough old gut!
scott
July 12, 2009
loved the course played it in light winds as all links the greens dont hold. shot 45 with a blob will be back to play it many times and drop.could do with distance markers.
Raindog
November 27, 2012
Scott, do you mean you scored 45 stableford points, that's stupid, your handicap is too high. The greens do hold when you play from the correct position in the fairway and a quality golf ball. By the way, forget Stableford and play match play with the correct handicaps and you will have much more fun on the golf course. Good luck.
Harrison Brown
January 07, 2013
Scott, distance markers? 125 yards, is that a 2 or a 3 iron then, you'll miss all the fun of playing a championship links course, 157yards, 7 iron, hey! why am I 50 yards short, I always hit my 7 iron 155!!!!
Alex Ballard
I have played Burnham a few times now and it has not once failed to disapoint. I was very impressed with the superb condition of the greens and the roll was the truest i have ever known. A must play for low to mid handicap players
August 10, 2007
8 / 10
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michael frankel
My american 4some played here twice in May 2007 and thought it was the combination of the best course in the best condition of our trip versus other well known courses in the vicinity. Out of the way, the fact it's not well visited probably explains the fact the welcome wasn't over the top. B&B however would stand up extremely well against more famous competition. Beautiful condition and great interesting greens. Played great - even without the benefit of local knowledge or a caddy.
July 17, 2007
10 / 10
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Ted
A very fine links with the best putting surfaces you will find anywhere.This is a seriously tough course with anything more than a breeze blowing, which is recognised by the number of important events which are held here - would rate this a bit higher in the UK rankings than its present position. Always a great pleasure to play whatever the time of year.
January 12, 2007
8 / 10
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