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.
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.
I think a theme for all the courses in Norfolk is that the drive is a huge pain and having to deal with all the roads will infuriate you however once you get to Hunstanton golf club you'll be thankful you made the journey. It is a classic links course with some of the best greens you could ask for.
Admittedly, It starts off manageable but a bit slow with hole 1 being a short par 4 playing about 330 yards and hole 2 being a reachable par 5 in 2 providing that the drive is weaved through the fairway bunkers. It really picks up when you get to hole 7 and then you start to feel like you are playing links golf. The 7th is my favourite hole on the course which is a 150 yard par 3 hitting in between the sand dunes and a large bunker picking up any short misses. The back nine is much better than the front in my opinion and starts with a good par 4 with a very undulating green. If you miss left then good luck getting up and down as the green runs away from you immediately. The 11th is the closest you get to the sea but not an easy par 4 as it plays about 430 yards and into the wind. The 13th is a fantastic par 4 with a blind tee shot and a second shot which you must fly all the way to the green with thick rough short of it for about 100 yards. The 14th is also a blind tee shot which is a par 3 about 210 yards but plays way shorter as is mainly downhill. The 15th is a par 5 going in between the dunes once again and trying to avoid hitting the bunkers off the tee is a challenge in itself. The 16th is a classic par 3 which has a narrow green surrounded by deep pot bunkers. A great tee shot to hit as the sea is very much in view at this point along with a lot of the rest of the course. The 17th is definitely the hardest hole on the course, about 440 yards with an extremely narrow green to hit into and I needed two drivers in order to make it in 2! The 18th is a great finishing hole with the approach shot going straight towards the clubhouse, a picturesque finishing hole for sure.
I would say that Hunstanton is definitely in the bracket of top links golf courses in England and is definitely worth the drive to play however seeing what I gave 5 balls I think it is a strong 4 1/2 ball rating. Its a great test of golf and I will definitely return in the future.
Hunstanton is a proper links course, fairly flat behind the dunes with a few glimpses of the sea and seriously impressive fairway bunkering. Played it twice during July 2019, once in extreme wind and wet conditions and once on a calm overcast day, so we didn't get the benefit of sun shining over the course and it was a bit bleak. Course condition was very good; fairway sprinklers mean most fairways are very green (almost unlinks like). Nice clubhouse and helpful pro.
The starting holes were fairly flat and the course really got going after the 5th and the best stretch for me was 6 to 10. The 6th is a short dog-leg par 4 with the green very narrow and perched up on a plateau; miss right and you plunge down maybe 20 feet and you are basically dead as you probably end up in a divot which means you have no chance of getting the ball up onto the narrow green - I did think this was a bit unfair as I did just miss the green and you really had no shot (maybe some grass on the bank would help so you could get some lofted club at the ball). The excellent par 3 at 7 (raised tee over a valley with large front bunker) is followed by two par 5's (the 8th the pick of the par 5's) and then an excellent par 4 at 10 with water left off the tee and a raised green in the dunes adjacent the beach. Thought the 13th was probably best hole on course; aim at marker off tee on plateau, then dog-leg left to a green with pin hidden behind a number of isolated mounds/dunes short of green. A good driving hole at 15 where avoiding bunkers off tee was a challenge and a strong finish with tough par 4's at 17 and 18.
Some holes (separated by dunes either side) reminded me of Saunton East and some holes reminded me a bit of Burnham & Berrow. There was a bit of a congested area around the 4th, 5th tee, 14th green, 15th tee which I didn't really like. Generally most holes were good solid links holes, although I thought the par 3 at 4 was a bit weak and didn't like the 219 yard 14th which was totally blind as you just had to aim at the flagpole. The other par 3's at 16 and in particular 7 were however excellent holes. Four par 5's makes par 72 off the whites (6763 yards) which probably makes it play slightly easier than Saunton East and Royal St. David's for example. Not with the same charisma as these two courses and maybe lacking any real stand-out holes. A good challenging course though.
Living only half an hour or so away and having a few friends as members, I'm fortunate enough to play this track a couple of times a year.
I personally really do like Hunstanton, the layout of the course may not be as good as it's close neighbour Royal West Norfolk, but it makes up for with the friendly atmosphere there. Quite a few rounds have been concluded with me sitting in the old fashioned armchair in front of the open fire!
The overall condition of Hunstanton is what really sets it apart from RWNGC in my opinion. Not that theirs are bad, but Hunstanton prides itself with the great greens all year round, with hidden slopes and being incredibly true. You will do well to find any greens quicker and better than Hunstanton in the peak of summer. Having played yesterday, I wouldn't even go close to saying they were bad now.
Although I do prefer inland courses with green green fairways and lots of trees, I really can appreciate a great links course in which HGC doesn't disappoint. There aren't too many holes which define the beauty, all of them are kept in great condition and can be a great test of golf even for the best of golfers.
A few holes worth noting would start with the 6th, a short par four in which your second shot is to a small plateau green surrounded by deep bunkers and steep drop offs, with the greens being so quick, even a shot to the false front will have you scrambling for your par. The next hole is one of my favourites, A mid length par 3 which you play through a small valley to a undulating green. It's one of the holes you could watch people play all day. Unfortunately they have taken the wooden sleepers out of the one bunker which is short due to a member thinning one into the wood and hurting themselves. A shame really as it really did make the hole look amazing. The 16 is worth a mention, a 180 ish par 3 surrounded by pot bunkers which have just been re done. Very difficult to hit the green with the wind! And last but not least the 17th, one of the hardest par fours I've played. A very clever hole with severe sloping fairways to the right, aim up the left and let the undulations bring your ball back down on this 450+ yard par four. With the usual wind at HGC, it's straight into the breeze and the second shot is no let off either. you could try to filter it in from the left side, but too far right is a very steep drop off making a par very very difficult. The second shot to the 18th with the clubhouse behind is also a lovely finish. But overall, one of my favourites in Norfolk.
For our annual golf tour in 2018 12 of us ventured to Norfolk to sample some of the delightful courses on offer.
Our first day was spent at Hunstanton GC. First-up we received a warm welcome in the pro shop and felt the welcome in the clubhouse, particularly post-round was great. Sometimes in these older clubs you can feel as if you’re a little under -stated but have to say we were made to feel most welcome.
On to the course itself…HGC is a fairly traditional linksy style course – with a degree of ‘out and back ‘ to its layout, though not to the extent of say Royal Cinque Ports. Given the prolonged dry spell preceding our visit we felt the course was in good shape and offered the chance to score fairly well. It’s a relatively flat links course, there are one or two minor climbs, but generally it’s a flattish layout and therefore only a few blind tee shots compared to some other links courses we’ve played over the years. It’s definitely a more scoreable course for the average golfer than say Burnham & Berrow or the afore-mentioned RCP
The course is an enjoyable one to play, wouldn’t say there are too many stand-out holes where you’d stand on the tee and take it all in (as we’ve experienced with some other highly rated links courses), but nonetheless it is well worth visiting. Most notable holes are probably the short par 4 6th, where the green is nicely plateaued surrounded by deep mound-side bunkers; the picturesque par three 7th, across the small valley to an undulating green; and the teasing 16th par 3, slightly downhill to a green that’s harder to hit than it appears.
The greens were true and good quality, as you’d expect for such a highly-rated course, and deceptively flatter than they appear on several holes – over-borrowing was all too commonplace.
To pre-book as a group it cost £75 each, which is probably in line with the going rate for premium courses such as this although we wouldn’t necessarily agree that HGC be rated above Sheringham, where we played two days later.
Once you’ve genuinely caught the bug for links golf, the treelined parkland variety just somehow feels inferior. Hunstanton is everything I’d expect of a traditional links course and one of the most honest links experiences I’ve played.
Unlike Royal West Norfolk just down the road, there are no major quirks to Hunstanton but it’s not the lesser for it. Situated along the banks of The Wash, it’s a surprisingly undulating course for what’s otherwise a pancake flat county. The first few holes are sporty holes in the character of a typical links, but it was at the 6th where the course really started to appeal. The topography had been relatively flat up to this point so the high plateau green catches you by surprise and sits above the surrounding land like an island. This is the start of a great stretch of golf holes with the length of the par three 7th flanked by a dune whilst a large bunker sits below the entrance to the green. They’ve now removed the timber facing from the aforementioned bunker which I felt takes away from the identity of this hole somewhat but it’s still unquestionably a fine golf hole.
At the 8th comes the first of two back to back par fives where another raised green awaits, this time with a sneaky false front. Fast forwarding to the 13th and you’re faced with a humpback of a ridge that needs to be cleared from the tee before you’ll get sight of the green. It’s a tremendous hole and the fairway is gloriously bumpy as you wander up to a green that’s circled with rough humps. 14 is the only hole that I frankly found a little weak; a long and blind par three with a target to aim for in the distance that lacks in the personality of other great blind par threes such as the 15th at Cruden Bay, although the sign on the tee to “oscillate the pole when leaving the green” left me both amused and bemused in equal measure.
Anyway, all of the golf that’s come before is just appetiser to what is the most magnificent climax. Hunstanton closes out with three holes of the highest order, probably my favourite three-hole closing stretch in golf. 16 is a par three reminiscent of the 8th at Royal Aberdeen with a green circled by seven pot bunkers. 17 is a really clever hole with a heavily sloping and sweeping dogleg of a fairway before you’re confronted with a slim green bordered by a ridge to the left and a shelf-like drop to the right. I made the mistake here of hitting too much club on this hole, playing safe away from the shelf on the right but instead carrying the green to the left and left myself without a prayer of chipping back onto the green, instead ending up through the green on the other side of that shelf that I had been trying so hard to avoid. Anyway, any disappointment with making a penultimate hole double bogey was soon put to the back of my mind with the wonderful 18th. Reminiscent of the final hole at Moray Old, the green stands tall above the fairway with a waste bunker on one side that spans across both the 18th and 1st fairways whilst a row of multi coloured beach huts border the other side of the fairway. Just a few feet behind the 18th green sits the imposing clubhouse with its large bay window and beautiful wood panelled interior. I must mention that the locker rooms have also recently been refurbished and are fitted out to the highest of standards.
Despite its reasonably high ranking, I’m still declaring Hunstanton to be underrated. Whilst it doesn’t seem to be universally loved by everyone, it was our group’s collective favourite course of a week-long tour that included eight other courses which all feature in England’s top 100. Hunstanton is everything I’ve come to expect of links golf and both this and nearby Royal West Norfolk complement each other superbly by offering excellent links experiences whilst providing something completely different from one another.
A great course but really difficult especially first time out. The condition was pristine and really couldn't be faulted. Not sure about the two ball rule or foresomes only but nevertheless enjoyed the course. Like many clubs in the area the clubhouse is very dated but the course itself will bring you back again and again
I played Hunstanton in a three ball with my brother and father in early April. There has been a lot of rain and we played on what I can only imagine is an unusually still day, with probably no more than a 10-15 mph wind that died off by the back nine. We received a warm welcome from James the Pro and were told we would be teeing off after a two ball competition which meant a decent pace of play.
Firstly the course had held up remarkably well despite the weather, there were a couple of boggy areas on the front nine, but only on one or two holes. Otherwise it was in great condition and the rough had not yet enjoyed its spring growth, meaning it was somewhat forgiving. The greens were quick enough (I imagine they get a lot faster in the summer) and true, augmented by some typical links subtleties and run-offs.
With handicaps of 11, 12 and 13 we played off the white tees which made for some testing par 4s, particularly into the breeze. Due to an Easterly wind on the day we played, the out and back nature of the course meant most of the front nine was played into a 1 to 2 club breeze.
Holes 1 and 2 do a good job of getting you out onto the course, without being so testing that they lead to a traffic jam. Notable holes were the 3rd, 5th and 8th, the later a true par 5 to a raised green. These eight holes are an enjoyable start, but the course really gets into its stride with the 9th and 10th. What follows is a magnificent stretch of links golf, with arguably the 12th being the only weak hole. My particular favourites were the afformentioned 9th a wonderful par 5 with a hillock/dune running down the left and bunkering and drop offs guarding the right of the fairway, where three good shots are needed; and the 447 yard, par 4 17th which sees a tee shot played onto a left to right sloping fairway, leaving a long second to a narrow table green protected by a bank on the left and a huge drop off on the right, to my delight I birdied it. 18 is a great finishing hole, where I found out that a good drive still leaves a lot of work, I walked off with a bogey and a huge smile on my face to enjoy a drink in the bar. A great course.
On our annual GBI trip in June, I had the pleasure of seeing Hunstanton for the first time. Sorry it took so long. A warm welcome. The day was awful - rain and wind were fierce - so we only played the first five out and last last four in. We were able to see the distinctive holes and great green complexes. We tried to find the time to see the whole course while in Norfolk but that will have to wait. Too bad!
Hunstanton boasts a series of extremely high quality golf holes and whilst it may not quite have the charm and quirk that I often look for (and prefer) in seaside golf there’s no denying this is a true test of your golfing skills on a very good course.
I have always been greeted with an Easterly wind at Hunstanton in the early season which means that the predominantly ‘out and back’ links has played significantly differently to the norm, when it usually blows from the west at this time of year.
The front-nine, played mostly into a two-to-three club wind, is challenging and requires long hitting, especially at the second, third, fifth and eighth. Holes two and eight, both par fives, are genuine three-shotters under these circumstances whilst holes three and five play 448 and 441 yards respectively and as you can imagine into a strong breeze are effectively par four and a half’s.
Most of the really good golf at Hunstanton can be found on the last ten holes but the outward half shouldn’t be dismissed because there is some high quality stuff to be found.
Whilst recent changes have been made you could still throw a blanket over the first tee, 18th green and clubhouse which gives a lovely atmosphere and is a set up I really like. The opening hole is a fabulous getaway too with a large wasteland area to carry, a string of sand traps down the right and a well defended green with a particularly wicked drop-off to the left. It may be cited as a birdie-opportunity but it could equally kill your round before it’s even begun.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.