Bury St Edmunds Golf Club has Walter Edward Guinness, the local Member of Parliament from 1907 to 1932, to thank for its existence. He purchased a suitable piece of land on the northwest edge of the town for £1,700 in 1922 and donated it for recreational use. It was just the catalyst needed by golfers to get the club under way.
Open champions Ted Ray and James Braid were invited to submit plans for the design of the new course and it was Jersey-born Ray who won that particular off-course duel, securing the £25 fee for setting out the 18-hole layout within the Sexton’s Hall estate. The new course was opened by Lady Evelyn Guinness in October 1924.
The construction of the A14 road in the late 1960s resulted in the club losing six holes to the new road so Frank Pennink was called in construct new holes and re-sequence some of the original ones – the old 1st is now the 6th, for example, and the old 6th became the 14th. A 9-hole short course was added in October 1991.
My expectations were quite low when I revisited this course a few days ago. I had been to the course for a putting clinic, and didn't see anything apart from the pro shop, clubhouse and 18th. Upon actually giving the course a chance, I was actually quite surprised with what I experienced.
Placed quite annoyingly next to the A14. Bury has quite an extensive membership, so much so that our tee time (2pm on a Tuesday) was littered with 4 balls. That being said, some extensive works have taken place in recent years taking trees out and it has been done carefully and meticulously.
It's certainly not the hardest course you'll play, but emphasis on fairways as always is helpful to a good round! It does seem in some places like groundhog day but there is a fine line with inland courses, I just don't think Bury quite meets the mark in that department.
All in all, I thought the course would be much worse than I anticipated but the layout and condition did surprise me. For the amount of traffic this course gets, the greens were running very well.
An extremely well supported golf club, who over recent years have started to make significant investments into the course.
Bury is always in decent condition, but unfortunately suffers from persistent road noise from the adjacent A14. In addition to this, the land on which the course is laid out on is relatively uninspiring and flat.
This being said, the course is well routed with a good mixture of scoreable par 5's (1,3 & 18), challenging par 4's (4,16 & 17) and fun par 3's (the 9th in particular is a great challenge since the changes have been made).
Hole 11 is a great short par 4 with players required to negotiate a range of cross bunkers before the fairway slopes down towards a narrow green.
The club is by far and away the best 18 hole course in Bury St Edmunds (hence it being supported so well) and has a 9 hole course which provides a brilliant stepping stone for beginners throughout the local area.