The woke golfing crowd may flock to Mildenhall to visit the Sacred Nine, but just fifteen minutes east of there beside the historic market town of Bury St Edmunds lies another nine holer that should be every bit as well renowned. Flempton is a traditional club with a course that exhibits characteristics of Ganton as firm sandy turf and gently rolling ground are enhanced by wild bunkering and artificial yet stylish mounding.
Uniquely, the course plays in three loops, all returning back to the clubhouse meaning that anything from a quick skip across three holes through to a full eighteen are a possibility.
Bunkering is central to the course and it’s how the bunkers are embedded into the banks and bumps that provide the course’s most startling feature. The greens also, whilst maybe not blessed with internal features as strong as Royal Worlington, still have subtle breaks and borrows, and the surrounds are closely shaven providing for some interesting run-offs. Each hole is blessed with character, but it’s the 7th that remains most firmly in the memory. This is a shortish par four that has a distinctive string of bunkers across the fairway before a hidden green is surrounded by some nasty little revetted pots.
Any minor criticism would be that the course has maybe lacked the investment that it should have over recent decades, but its potential is boundless. As such, the directors at Flempton have hired Martin Ebert as they now embark upon a three-year masterplan with the aim being that once complete, the club would see itself becoming one of the top 10 nine-hole courses in the UK. I for one think this is a hugely modest target as even without those improvements, I would suggest it already belongs amongst such company and maybe worthy of a full day out on its own merit.
There’s already a lot to be admired and from the moment you drive into the clubhouse, you can immediately tell that this place has a special something. It's a course suitable for beginners through to the scratch player, and their new Head Greenkeeper has already started to make various improvements. With the new irrigation system that is on order, quality year-round conditions should soon be accomplished. I also like the switch to genderless tees and once the bunker work is completed with the main aim of making the sand lines more visible, I honestly think the club are onto a winner.
I came away with a real soft spot for Flempton. It's relatively unknown to the wider golf community but they have a real gem on their hands and seem to be doing everything right. I look forward to a return to the club in the future and enjoying the fruits of their labour when that natural potential has been reached.
Date: May 18, 2021