Felixstowe Ferry (Martello) - Suffolk - England

Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club,
Ferry Road,
Felixstowe,
Suffolk,
IP11 9RY,
England


  • +44 (0) 1394 286834

Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club was originally nominated by Brian and was added to the your gems section of the Top 100 website in February 2006. Since then, the Martello course at the historic Felixstowe Ferry (established in 1880 and one of England’s oldest golf clubs), moved straight out of your gems and into our Suffolk Best in County rankings. Brian’s original nomination article follows:

“I have played some great golf courses over the years but my personal “Home of Golf” is not St Andrews, it’s Felixstowe Ferry. I’ve lived in Essex all my life and it’s a complete joy to head off to the seaside to escape the clay and play a top quality links course. My wife already knows that when I kick the bucket I’d like my ashes to be scattered here because Felixstowe is where my heart is.”

“I have the tenderest and most sentimental association with Felixstowe,” wrote Bernard Darwin in The Golf Courses of Great Britain, “because it was there that I began to play golf. I did not see it again for a painfully long number of years, and my recollections of it were those of a small boy of eight or nine years old. The small boy wore a flannel shirt, brown holland knickerbockers, and bare legs, from which the sun had removed nearly all vestiges of skin. He used to dodge in and out of the crowd, hurriedly playing a hole here and there, and then waiting for unsympathetic grown-ups in red coats to pass him. Willie Fernie was the professional there in those days, and in the zenith of his fame; it was not long before he had beaten Bob Ferguson for the championship by holing a long putt for a two at the last hole at Musselburgh. Occasionally also another great golfer, Mr. Mure Fergusson, would come down from London to shed the light of his countenance upon the course and be breathlessly admired by the small boy from a respectful distance.

As far as I can remember, my best score then was 70 for one round of the nine-hole course, and so I always pictured Felixstowe to myself as possessing longer holes and bunkers infinitely more terrible than those to be found on any other course. Felixstowe revisited appeared naturally enough to have shrunk a little; the Martello tower was not quite so tall as I had pictured it, but I still found it one of the most charming and interesting of courses. As far as I could see, the course was almost exactly the same as it always had been. The names of the holes came back to me as I played them – the ‘Gate,’ the ‘Tower,’ ‘Eastward Ho!’ ‘Bunker’s Hill,’ the ‘Point’ – with a romantic thrill.

Another interval of time elapsed and I saw Felixstowe again. Then all had been changed indeed. Nine holes had become too few for all those that wanted to play there, and, although the ground has now made a wonderful recovery, the War and the troops had left their traces. So the whole course has been entirely changed and has become eighteen holes. It must have been rather an ungrateful task to alter what was so lovable and so historic, but Dr Mackenzie did it very well. The course now consists of three different sections. There is the old ground of the pure seaside character, close to the sea, where are still to be found old-fashioned, keen seaside greens. There is the ground to the left of the road to Bawdsey Ferry, which is heavier, but partially sandy, and there is the ground on top of the cliff behind the clubhouse, which has inland soil. Yet, oddly enough, it is when we are playing inland golf that we are most afraid of the sea, for the tenth and eleventh greens are so close to the edge of the cliff that it gives me the cold shivers to think of them. None of the old holes now remain, though some of the old greens are used.”

“But the course suffered a worse fate in 1939 when it became part of the defence system against invasion.” Wrote Donald Steel in Classic Golf Links of Great Britain & Ireland. “In 1946, there wasn’t much evidence that it had ever been a golf course but superhuman efforts (not helped by the floods of 1949) led to its re-opening in 1950 although the building of the sea wall led to the loss of a fine short hole facing out to sea. It is easy to understand how the exhibition match to mark its relaunch was a matter of great rejoicing. The latest version of the layout embraces holes on both sides of the road but the ground nearest the shore is still the best and most interesting.”

The original course that Tom Dunn designed and the 18-hole course that Alister MacKenzie laid out in 1920 (when he was partner of Colt, Alison and MacKenzie) no longer exists. The ravages of war and flood resulted in the need for yet another new course that was fashioned in 1948 by two knights of the realm, Guy Campbell and Henry Cotton.

The Martello course, as it is now known, opened in 1950, but once again found its fairways underwater in Britain's worst natural disaster, the devastating North Sea floods of January 1953. The club thankfully recovered and since then has gone from strength to strength, hosting a number of important tournaments down the years and warmly welcoming visitors to this day.


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Reviews for Felixstowe Ferry (Martello)

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Description: "I have the tenderest and most sentimental association with Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club," wrote Darwin, "because it was there that I began to play golf." Rating: 6.6 out of 10 Reviews: 18
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ben sargent
Played this course in mid April and was very impressed. Despite being a Links course addict Felixstowe Ferry had never really been on my hit list to play.. what a fool I am! This is a fantastic Links - if it's good enough for Bernard Darwin to pay it his full attention then it should be good enough for all of us, whether Links lovers or otherwise.. The holes at the higher end of the course offer not only stunning sea views, but really are fantastic Links holes. From what I've heard the club are putting great effort into improving the course to make it look and play like the true Links that it is - adding traditional Links fescue grasses where needed, as well as revetting many of the bunkers. It seems the good work is paying off already, and as it continues, Felixstowe Ferry will continue to get better and better. I can't wait to return and play it again! it would be remiss of me also not to mention that the clubhouse does one of the best fish and chip lunches in the world!? Or that the stock and facilities available in the Pro Shop wouldn't be out of place in a high end 'country club'? I could ramble on all day actually. Sadly, I need to have a cup of tea and a treat.. So i'll leave it at that! Go play Felixstowe Ferry, you wont be disappointed!
April 24, 2015
8 / 10
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Travis Hinton
I recently planned a trip to England to visit some friends with my mother. The main item on my to-do list was to play a true links style golf course. I live and play in central North Carolina, where the weather is warm enough to play almost year around. After a couple of days in London, the majority of our trip was to be spent in the Ipswich area, so I used Google Maps to scout out the courses in the area that were located on the coast. I located Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club by looking at the area satellite map and then doing a Google search for your website. Our friends live in the area, but are not golfers. They called Robert at the club and explained that they had friends coming from the States and that I wanted to play golf. I chose not to bring my own clubs on the trip due to airline baggage issues... Felixstowe Ferry (Martello) Golf Course - Photo by revieweronly my shoes, so they asked Robert to get a set of rental clubs together and make me a tee time. I have played several courses with rental clubs and they are generally not very good. I really didn't care, as I was after the experience of the course and did not care what I shot. I arrived at the club for lunch before my round and was welcomed by the staff and treated like I was a member. Robert gave me some really interesting history of the club and suggested that I play the back tees on selected holes to get the full experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the "royal" treatment I received. I was equipped with a set of Titleist AP1 irons, a Titleist 910D Driver, a Titleist 3-wood, an electric walk behind cart, complete with golf balls, and directed to the 1st tee. I joined up with a very pleasant English couple that were members, and they welcomed me, along with some ribbing about the previous days Ryder Cup results. The weather was cool and windy, about 25-30 mph, but that did not undermine my total enjoyment of the course. The greens were fast, the conditions of the course were great and the views and shot lines were incredible. The rolling terrain and several stone towers were things I had never seen on a golf course. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would recommend that anyone in the area looking for a great day of golf give Robert and his staff a call. You will not regret it! Thanks again for a truly memorable links golf experience! I can’t wait to go back in the future
November 30, 2012
10 / 10
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Raindog
November 30, 2012
Felixstowe is a lovely place to play golf, nice and flat but enough undulations to make it interesting, the grasses are excellent and a very friendly club indeed.
Ben
Four of us played the Martello course on Saturday 26th March, we played £50 each. I thought this was a bit pricey for a winter rate and for what the course was. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the course, the greens were fantastic, the last 6 holes were superb and we were very appreciative to be let off 15 minutes early to beat the darkness but I agree with some of the other reviews that there is something missing. I think it might be the lack of fairway undulation and dunes and also the middle 6 holes are a bit parklandish but I can't complain as I got a hole in one on the 5th! BB.
March 28, 2011
6 / 10
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Colin Jones
Played here two weeks ago in a brisk wind and bright sunshine. It is a lovely place to play golf. Rewarding if you keep it in play, the wind tricks it up a lot. The greens were in lovely condition considering the winter we had, but the fairways had recovered less well. But to the clubs credit the starter did admit to this. Indeed the staff are enormously pleasant and the fish and chips were a delight. Probably not the classiest links course in the UK but I am certain any standard of golfer would find Felixstowe a very enjoyable course to play, there was little to fault it.
May 17, 2010
6 / 10
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mark fosker
Felixstowe Ferry is a beautiful course which can be one of the toughest challenges in golf if the wind is blowing and the greens are fast but on a calm,warm and sunny day you could go round in some excellent scores. The food is good and the bar staff are a credit to the club. But Felixstowes greatest merit comes from the head greenkeeper John for making the greens in the summer times and still very good through winter absolutly beautiful and of a pace which could match any Open championship course. If your planning a golfing trip go to Felixstowe ferry and i can promise you that you will enjoy it. While your there if get the chance to meet mark fosker,a junior,take the time to talk about his achievements, hes the next Tiger Woods!
November 05, 2007
10 / 10
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Colin Jones
A lovely little course this and I have been lucky enough to play it twice in calm conditions, I reckon when the wind blows it really shows its teeth. The back nine is the nicest, being closer to the sea wall and the beach. The front 9 has almost a parkland course feel to it, but is nonetheless no worse for it. It is a fair course, leaving the elements to damage the score card and rewarding the steady shotmaker. Lovely fish and chips, quaint and friendly club. Worth a trip.
October 13, 2005
6 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
Fair links/seaside course and a nice place to visit. I played here a few times in the early 90's and returned last week - I think the up keep of the course has deteriorated as the course looked a touch ropey in places. Worth a trip though if you are in the area. Special mentioned to the 16th hole - a par 3 around the 200 yard mark that can range from a 7 iron to a driver depending on the wind.
July 19, 2005
4 / 10
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Billy
This is an unusual links course and extremely enjoyable too but it has something missing and I can't put my finger on exactly what it is...perhaps it's the lack of dunes. Anyway, I think it is certainly worth playing alongside Woodbridge and Thorpeness (two more Suffolk gems).
February 15, 2005
6 / 10
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