“Golf at Frinton is nearly as old as the town itself,” wrote David Hamilton in The Golfers Guide to East Anglia. “The club was founded in 1895 and was situated on a nine-hole course designed by Tom Dunn on land now occupied by housing adjacent to the first fairway. That existed until 1904 when Open champion Willie Park Jnr. designed a new 18-hole course on the present site, an area formerly renowned for hare coursing. On the advice of famous course architect Harry Colt various improvements were made to the original design which left the layout largely as we know it today. However, the coming of the Second World War set back those improvements.
Frinton’s position on the Essex coast was thought to be a possible site for an enemy invasion so, with the exception of the first three holes, the remainder of the course was requisitioned by the Army and sown with mines. The resultant damage was considerable and it was not until 1947 that the course began to resume its former shape.
The current course is not excessively long by modern standards and, at first glance, the absence of trees may indicate an easy test. But that’s only part of the story. Fast, firm and undulating greens require sound putting, tidal ditches cross many fairways requiring good course management, and being on the coast, there is usually the wind to consider.”
The main 18-hole course was recently renamed in honour of Arthur Havers who was the 1923 Open Champion and Frinton club professional.
OK, this isn’t a true links course but it is certainly as close as we can get in Essex.
It was a long drive for me but I still don’t think you can beat playing golf by the sea. Unlike any other course in the county.
Overall, this is a delightfully charming ‘almost-links’ course with plenty of burns, long rough and crumpled fairways. The pick of the holes are those along the sea wall where it feels most links-like.
Whilst not an outstanding course, for me, it’s worth the long drive for a pleasant day by the sea for a modest green fee.
Despite the length of its coastline Essex has very few links courses, I’m not sure why that it is, given the number of turbines off the coast it doesn’t lack wind. More likely the lack of dunes and mainly clay soil doesn’t provide what’s needed for links golf, the best links track in the county is found at Orsett some way inland from the Thames estuary. Onto Frinton I’ve played it regularly in the past decade as part of an annual society day and it’s probably the only true seaside links course in the county. The town itself is the definition of genteel and the charming old clubhouse reflects that tradition, the main dining room and bar overlook the 18th green allowing members to enjoy a post round G&T. It has become less stuffy over the years as the modern world finally reaches Frinton and visitors are welcomed more warmly now. Although it’s a seaside links you won’t have view of the sea, the course is situated behind a very high seawall, the only clue you are on the coast are the seaside huts plonked on top of the wall and normally the ever present wind. I played at the end of September on 3 club wind day, when the wind blows from the South most of the the opening 9 holes are brutes even though they don’t look long on the card, survival golf at best unless you are very skilled at hitting low stingers off every tee. Architecture wise there is practically no elevation change save the raised green on 18, the some of the greens have some great undulation which keeps your attention, there is some decent bunkering around the greens, the drainage channels which cross the course offer the main defence along with the wind. The club generally doesn’t let the rough grow too high so you won’t normally have any problems if you’re wayward. Coming in all of the par 5’s are easily reachable in two if you have the wind behind, great to have blast knowing the worst that will happen is finding a bunker. Condition was OK when I played albeit the dry conditions in September had led to many bare patches and cracked fairways, the greens played true albeit slow, they aren’t mown very tightly because of the wind so don’t be afraid to hit the ball harder than normal, it generally won’t go past the hole very far. Frinton isn’t a top end links course in the RCP, North Berwick class but it does offer a fun challenge and good value, £35 for a round, coffee and bacon roll is fair to me.