Golf Course Road,
- +44 (0) 1485 532811
1 mile E of Hunstanton
Contact in advance. Handicap certificate required.
George Fernie, James Braid
Hunstanton is the ancestral home of the le Strange family; Hamon le Strange invested £30 to get the original nine holes ready for play; George Fernie was the architect. Hunstanton Golf Club was founded in 1891 and Hamon became the inaugural club president. In 1907, James Braid revised the existing layout and extended the course to 18 holes, alterations which cost a total of £25. James Sherlock made further subtle modifications in the 1920s and the two closing holes were updated by Ken Cotton in 1951.
This natural course is a simple out and back affair, interrupted only briefly in the middle of the outward and inward nines by a few short holes that zigzag at right angles across the central dunes. The River Hun and the Wash frame this narrow strip of links land, but you are only offered a few glimpses of the sea from the course itself.
Hunstanton and Royal West Norfolk are always rated close together in today's ranking tables but, when Darwin wrote about Hunstanton in his book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, things were different: “Hunstanton is very amusing golf; it is more than that, for it is for the most part very good golf. Perhaps it is a little unfairly overshadowed in public estimation by its near neighbour Brancaster, which is altogether on a rather bigger and grander scale.” Nevertheless, Hunstanton is a connoisseur’s golf course, jammed full of memorable quality golf holes. The members are quite rightly proud of the greens, they are tricky to read, fast, hard and true. The rippling fairways are tightly mown and gently undulating.
Two of the world’s best lady golfers have played and won here at Hunstanton. In the year before the Great War, Cecil Leitch beat G Ravenscroft 2 and 1 to win the Ladies’ British Amateur Championship and in 1921, the great Joyce Wethered beat J Stocker to win the English Ladies’ Close Amateur Championship. More recently, in 1972, Hunstanton hosted the Ladies’ British Amateur Championship, when Mickey Walker went on to win, beating Claudine Rubin of France.
A feat of incalculable odds also occurred at Hunstanton. In 1974, the amateur Bob Taylor holed in one during a practice round for the Eastern Counties Foursomes. The following day, in the actual competition, he again holed in one. The very next day in the same competition, he once more holed in one. If a hole in one on three consecutive days is not enough, you’ll be amazed to hear that it was achieved each time on the same hole, the 16th, a 191-yard par three!
This is a full-blown championship golf links; an absolute must-play for serious golfers. Make your score on the outward nine, the back nine is much more difficult, except for the par 3 16th, a simple hole in one opportunity.
Martin Hawtree recently produced a course master plan for the club and much of this work has completed, including re-bunkering of the par fives and improvements to the 1st, 7th, 10th and 18th.
What a pleasure this golf club was, the golf course was in outstanding condition in winter, the fairways and views where stunning. I can completely understand why the golf club is in the top 100 and can honestly say I will being booking another hotel and playing here very soon. Me and my partner both felt like we where both playing in Ireland on a stunning links course!!
After a slightly pedestrian opening five holes, Hunstanton really bursts into life with the approach shot into the short par-4 6th. From here onwards you are taken on a brilliant Golfing adventure that weaves along, in and around some sublime coastal ridges and dunes in many different directions. The back nine is truly outstanding, exciting Golf holes featuring several blind tee shots, lots of interesting undulation, fast running fairways and holes routed in a kind of zig-zag fashion back towards the clubhouse. Main holes of merit would include 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17.
The 16th is an immense short hole played slightly downhill, framed beautifully by 6 greenside bunkers and a whole host of humps and hollows. A famous hole in Golfing folklore, Robert Taylor of Leicestershire made 3 holes in one on 3 successive days in the Eastern Counties Foursomes event held at the course in 1974!
17 is a brilliant long par 4 - an inviting tee shot to a fairway that cambers hard from left to right. From there, a really interesting approach shot presents itself to an ultra-narrow green perched on a ledge with a severe run-off flanking the whole right side which leaves a high tariff recovery.
In order to solve the hole, one must play a lengthy, towering approach shot all the way onto the putting surface or strategically land the ball short-left of the green and make use of a steep ridge that will funnel the ball safely onto the green. A superb hole of strategy and options!
Hunstanton is well worth a visit and can be coupled up with nearby Royal West Norfolk for a super little trip away!
Some of the holes really stand out from the others here.
I will start with 17, this is one of the best par 4’s I’ve ever played. An absolute gem, and a beast. Back into the wind a long iron into a tiny green which runs off massively on the right and has deep rough to the left, and if you miss left like I did, you will not be keeping it on the green and it will be off down the massive swale on the right!
The chip from the right side as intimidating as it is, if the pin is left, you can play it well past the hole and use the slope to bring it back. Beautiful driving hole, insanely difficult second, but still I believe fair, and the green complex is just a treat!
Other great holes - 5 has a great second shot, 6 is a great short 4 with a table top green, 7 is a lovely par 3, 9 is a gem of a par 5 with another fabulous green complex & so nicely framed, 11 is a brute, such a tight drive, but very fun, 15 is an awesome short par 5 with risk reward a plenty, and 18 is a great finishing hole.
Now the bad….
14 - the par 3 that is blind, is absolutely dreadful. Holes like the Redan at Berwick, you can at least see the top of the pin, however here, at 210y with no idea where the green or pin is located is just terrible, maybe some people love it, but honestly, it requires luck and guessing. Nothing else.
I don’t like par 5’s where you can’t hit driver, therefore I don’t particularly care for the 8th although it has another great green complex.
Condition of the course for November was very good, unfortunately despite the greens being a little slow, they were nice & I can only blame the 38 putts I had on myself!!
Overall, worth the drive to play this course. Beautiful clubhouse too.
The 14th at Hunstanton only requires “luck and guessing” the first time you play it.
It’s no lottery - you simply need to execute a good shot in the absence of seeing the flag.
Surely this adds an additional dynamic to the various challenges of golf.
Re: BB, can’t even see the green let alone the flag! Links golf will always feature blind shots, I get that, it’s just really not for me that hole. Matter of opinion of course.
A good hole should be able to be understood the first time you play it I feel, perhaps posts on top of the hill indicating the right edge & the left edge of the green may help.
‘A good hole should be able to be understood the first time you play it I feel’
Dear Rob, while I agree there are some poor holes on golf courses, I disagree about understanding all holes the first time you see them . There would be no need for practice rounds before competitions and courses would be quickly boring if there was nothing to ‘work out’.
One can of course have a look at the 14th green when passing by whilst playing the 3rd & again when on the 4th green & the entire hole when standing on the 5th tee! I had always thought that checking the position of the flag on greens still to be played was part of good course management as indeed is a bit of research beforehand. Failing this the pole at the back of the green does provide a line. There is also a card available in the pro shop which gives the pin positions for the day according to the colour displayed on the board adjacent to the entrance.
We usually play 36 when visiting a new course - the first 18 providing a sighter for the afternoon round. I accept this is not always possible in the winter months. Might I suggest you do the same if you're ever thinking about playing Lahinch or Cruden Bay.
A super course and test of golf, interesting fun holes, on a fabulous layout.
Play was normal to fast, the turf was mainly good, with some stress and some sward variability within the greens.
Tees and fairways were great, the rough was mainly good.
An all-round great links test, ok value for money.
Worth a visit, and enjoy working out the second shot on the 17th....!!
Hunstanton on the North Norfolk Wash coastline is a true traditional links. Its a traditionalist's dream - a classic out and back layout, wind assisted for half the round and playing into a stiff breeze on the way back. The course is laid out through the rolling dunes and also on flat links land behind.
A traditional club where the members played with long socks and the 2 ball behind me had their dogs with them. The pro was incredibly friendly and helpful to us as visitors, somehwat different from the approach taken by Royal West, and the members all wanted to chat whilst sharing a pint after the round.
To the course and whilst it has been written about in so many reviews before, my takeway notes are as follows:
- Superb opening par 4,played from a high tee directly outside the clubhouse and pro shop. Challenging visually with a dune blocking direct "down the hole ' visuals and pot bunkers down the right.
- the course for me really gets going on hole 6, as you turn and play back into the breeze but head into the dunes. This hole is class. Whilst short, having not played it before, my second shot with a short iron looked awesome, a few feet from the pin on the raised green. However, on walking up the dune to the green you realise that there was no wide green to aim at - it's narrow and long and my ball, like countless others, had ran off into a valley some 25 feet below the hole. Fortunately chipped up and the ball held, but for nayone overhitting/thinning their shots, bunkers await on the ither side. The pines standing behind the green and hut help frame the hole beautifully.
- the par 3 7th plays from one high dune to another, protected by a large bunker centre. Again visually beautiful.
- back to back par 5s at hole 8 and 9, test your game as you play 8 with the wind and 9th back into it.
- playing back into the cross wind really tested my game. With a naturally high ball flight, keeping the ball low and playing for the wind effect was a challenge throughout the back 9 and i did spend some time in the rough right of the holes 9, 11, 15, 17 and 18!
- loved the 13th, a blind tee shot but your approach to the green is wonderful. Natural sand dunes scattered all around the green. You can see how the land would have looked prior to the course being laid out - and laid out is the appropriate word - there is little sculpting done, the holes apart from the greens simply run over the dunes.
- the par 3 14th, whilst 220 yards and played into a stiff wind is straight forward enough and a well hit shot should be rewarded with a ball on the green. A member playing just before us had a hole in one, shame he couldnt see it happen given the huge dune you tee over.
- the par 3 16th surrounded by 7 pot bunkers is a delight. With a front pin, it was hard to get near. My ball landed just on the front but then rolled through the uphill green leaving a 70 foot putt for birdie! Par was delivered.
- the 2 finishing holes are strong and these 2 combined with the par 3 16th make a wonderful finish to the round. The 17th is somehwat different from all.other holes with a sweeping left to right dog leg to a raised green perched on the dune side. Any approach shot slightly short will end up down in the valley leaving a chip uphill. And the 18th with the beach huts flanking the right hand side, whilst straight forward, has the green complex raised up outside the clubhouse. With a public path 100 yards in front of the green, it was nice to have 'spectators', stiff the approach close and receive applause. Nice if unexpected touch.
Having a drink of Gunners afterwards, reflecting on a class afternoon, and chatting with the members, this was how golf was meant to be. Hunstanton delivers it in bucket loads.
The course is a true links layout that keeps on getting better and better the further around the course you get. The greens in amazing condition and for the time of year the course was running firm and fast
This is a classic links course that ticks many of the design features of a traditional links challenge. Firm links turf, true greens, an out and back layout along the coast, dune ridges to cross and play through, and a plethora of pot bunkers scattered over the property.
It's the last feature which elevates Hunstanton. The bunkering here is excellent and adds a real strategic challenge. Almost every hole features fairway bunkers at driving distance which ask you to make a decision on the tee: driver is always an option but this means threading the ball through narrowing gaps. The opening holes provide a good indication of what this course is about. The first is a short par four, with an opening drive in front of the clubhouse over a dune ridge and sandy waste area. Three bunkers dominate the right side of the fairway at driving distance, so a long iron off the tee feels sensible. The second is a 530 yard par 5, but we found it reachable downwind in firm conditions… however to achieve this requires you to carefully thread your drive between 4 fairway bunkers and a further two bunkers at lay up distance. The green is then guarded by pot bunkers at the front and a stream captures anything that runs through the green. I felt chuffed to be putting for eagle here.
Six is a very challenging short par 4. Only 330 yards, but the drive is into the wind to a fairway guarded by half a dozen pot bunkers. The narrow elevated green sits on top of a dune with run-offs both sides and it feels like you are trying to land the ball on top of a policeman’s helmet. I’m sure it’s common to see golfers chipping backwards and forwards over this green. Seven is a very attractive par three, with a green nestled in the dunes and fronted by a huge bunker with a steep face.
The 8th green is furthest point from the clubhouse, and here you turn and make the long journey for home. I liked the back to back parallel par fives at 8 and 9, depending on the wind one will be tough and one will offer a birdie chance. The 10th is a great driving hole, a drive down the left offers a better angle into the green, but a water filled ditch guards the left hand side of the fairway and cuts in further up, and a couple of bunkers lurk on the right side to catch out the bail out tee shot. The green sits on the side of a dune, an approach from the right has to carry a bunker with the green angled across you but an approach from the left gives you the full length of the green to aim at.
Coming home, the 14th is the only quirky hole, a long par three playing over the dune ridge it is completely blind from the tee with only a tall pole beyond the green as your target. As you leave the back of the green you need to oscillate the pole to indicate it is safe to play – a new one to me! Although 220 yards, it plays shorter as you can run the ball into the green.
Like many classic links, the course finishes with two demanding long par fours into the prevailing wind. At 450 yards, 17 played like a par 5 into the wind. The 18th is a little shorter but plays up to a well protected elevated green in front of the clubhouse and makes a superb finishing hole.
Hunstanton doesn’t have the quirk and charm of nearby Brancaster, but we found it in better condition, and I think it offers a superior technical challenge, and is certainly a tougher examination of your driving.
This is the best course I have personally played. I played in October 2020 and the conditions were perfect. The greens played fast and the fairways were like carpet. The 13th and 15th were my favourite holes.
Tremendous traditionalist links track and Club, which I had previously visited but not played, so as a birthday treat we took ourselves round – with the dog too as they are allowed.
Arriving late on the tee and not yet having skycaddie turned on did NOT help with what doesn’t look the most welcoming of opening holes, with the tee virtually on the patio. It was downwind and as it turned out it wasn’t as bad as it looked and as long as you clear the scrub-land and bunkers and don’t go too far right (like I did ending up on OB on the practice ground!) there is much more room than there looks.
The second is a relatively straight forward par 5 which, again downwind, wasn’t too problematic (unless you dogged one OB left into the green-keepers compound like I did). Two holes two balls.
Settled down after that parring the third which was surprisingly stroke index 1 ? Made me wonder if this was not the usual prevailing wind ?
The fourth is a par 3 turning back towards the clubhouse – and watch out for the 14th green just to the right – wouldn’t surprise me if someone (else !!) played to the wrong green here !
The fifth heads out (downwind today) and then six turns left towards the sea. As you walk down 4 you see an interesting looking raised green, but get no indication of the horror that lays ahead !
Playing a second from just off the right of the sixth fairway, you can see the narrow green with bunkers left and a shelter over the back where the next tee sits. I hit a reasonable shot in (or so I thought) right half of the green, which took an alarming 90 degree right kick. Upon arrival at the green you find a huge hollow, almost like a small random fairway about 30 feet below the surface of a narrow steeply sloping green than truly resembles a car bonnet – even falling away down over the wheel arches to the right !!!
Once down the bottom you need to raise the ball vertically of tightly mown grass and stop it short of the awaiting bunkers the far side onto a narrow green. What a great place to play backwards and forwards across the green a few times !!! The next is a very easy on the eye par 3 across the aforementioned spare fairway dip into a green bordered by bunkers and dunes. Good hole, even more so as parred it !
The 8th is an interesting par 5 “out” from the clubhouse and 9 is another par 5 that turns back alongside it so whichever way the wind blows you will cop it in one of them. The 8th has a bridle path and ditch running across it at pretty much driving length so laid up with a 3 iron, and I was asked (this time verbally) one of the two strangest questions I have ever been asked on a golf course !!! A woman on a horse, who I was waiting to cross, stopped and asked me if her horse could look at my trolley….. was he looking for a new one himself I wondered, but no, he was apparently a bit nervous of them in the distance and she wanted him to see one close up and see it wasn’t that much of a threat ! Anyway, back to the par 5 8th, you cant see where you are going for your second so I just knocked a 7 iron over but once over the path etc there is plenty of room and it is a nice par 5.
The 9th was the first real drive turning back into the wind (well stiff breeze I would call it) – nice par 5 too. The 10th is called memory Lane and I wish to forget it, attractive hole into the far corner of the course, slightly raised green and having missed the green with second I developed a bad dose of the shanks so didn’t get to putt on this green !
Eight to play and you can see you are miles from home and the stiff breeze is in your face. Having not made hay whilst the wind helped I was nervous. To be fair the back nine continued as the first, good, different, challenging but playable holes, of which a few deserve special mention. The 14th is a long blind par 3 – very reminiscent of a hole at Prestwick, I cant immediately recall many other blind par 3’s (ah there is one at Cruden Bay as well) – anyway here came the second strangest thing I have been asked by signs this time on the tee and on the back of the green instructing you to “oscillate the pole when leaving the green” (to indicate to the following group you have cleared).
Going back to my question about the normal prevailing wind, the 15th at stroke index 18 made me take a second look. Into the wind suddenly the fairway shrank to the width of the 2nd at Royal Aberdeen – and I speculated had the SI’s 1 and 18 been reversed I would not have noticed either !?!?! Certainly not the easiest looking SI 18 I have seen !
Then the 16th is a 180ish yard par 3, back out from the clubhouse but with several bunkers and from a slightly raised tee which must make it a lot harder into the wind. Anyway in 1974 – a plaque proclaims – a gent from Leicestershire playing in the Midlands Foursomes holed out here, not just on the first day of the comp, but also on the second day…………..and then also on the third day too !!! What are the odds ?!
17 and 18 are a glorious finish playing to the backdrop of the clubhouse with beach huts down the right hand side of 18 which has a deviously elevated green.
A superb finish to a superb links course. Beautifully true running greens. Nothing not to like about this course. Well worth its place in any ranking list and definitely a classic links.
The schedule for the day was England vs Tonga in the Rugby World Cup followed by a 2:30 tee time at Hunstanton. However the threat of heavy rain in the late afternoon meant a call to the course pro shop who told us to get there for 12 and they will get us off, meant the rugby was missed. I mention this as it leaves a good feeling of the place before you even get their.
The course itself is excellent. I would say the course has a lovely flow to it mixing good and great holes an is definitely a course that benefits from playing it before. The greens and tees were excellent, while the greens had been treated not too long before they still ran true. I enjoyed the 1st while not long it needs accuracy if you are to start well.
The standout holes on the front 9 for me were 3, 6, the lovely par 3 7th, 8 and 9. The course finishes brilliantly though 12 is a risk and reward drive, 13 is just a cracking hole, hit long and you have a shorter, but blind approach, hit short and you can see the green but you have a longer approach. 14 is a long par three completely blind, left or right is trouble. 15 is not a long par 5 but you need to go right of the fairway bunkers, trust me I was hitting well and thought I would go over them. That is not the play. 17 is the hardest hole on the course with the fairway sloping left to right and playing into the wind, the low sun and with the run you get on links courses it was nearly impossible to keep it on the fairway. The approach is a cracker. 18 is a great finish right up to the clubhouse.
I would love to go back there one day maybe use the opportunity to play Royal Norfolk. I think the course is in the right position in the list, maybe could be a bit higher.