Ipswich (Purdis Heath) - Suffolk - England

Ipswich Golf Club,
Purdis Heath,
Bucklesham Road,
Ipswich,
Suffolk,
IP3 8UQ,
England


  • +44 (0)1473 728941

  • Neill Ellice

  • James Braid

  • Kevin Lovelock

Ipswich Golf Club at Purdis Heath is a delightful place, oozing style, peacefulness and tranquillity. You would never believe you are just a couple of miles outside the busy town centre. In fact, you could easily assume that you're at one of Surrey's best sand belt courses.

The club was originally founded in 1895 and in those days the members played on Rushmere Heath – a delightful spot – now the home of Rushmere Golf Club. In 1926, they decided to move and acquired more than 200 acres of ideal golfing land. “James Braid designed this course and in 1928, at the age of twenty-one, I joined Braid with J. H. Taylor and Abe Mitchell at the opening of the course and clubhouse,” wrote Sir Henry Cotton in his guide to Golf in the British Isles: “The clubhouse was built as a large country house so that in case the golf project did not succeed, the property could easily be sold – such was the uncertainty about the growth of golf when I came into the game!”

In a similar way to Muirfield, Ipswich is laid out in two broad loops but the difference is that the loops run in different directions to those at Muirfield. Here at Purdis Heath, the outward nine is on the inside running anticlockwise and the inward nine wraps around the outside running in a clockwise direction. This classic design ensures that the elements hit you from all directions. Additionally, Braid made full use of the natural contours of the land by laying the course out on the high ground around two lakes.

Undoubtedly Ipswich is a first class golf course, which changes character seasonally. The autumn colours are sensational and in spring, with the rhododendrons in full bloom, there's no better place to be. There are many fine holes, but one of our favourites is the charming 15th, a short par three where the tee shot must carry across water to a green, which is savagely protected by bunkers and flanked by trees on both sides.Henry Cotton (left) opening the 9-hole course - June 1968

In addition to the Purdis Heath course, Ipswich has a delightful 9-hole short course called Bixley, which was opened by Sir Henry Cotton on the 40th anniversary of the opening of the main course. The new course was intended to relieve the Purdis Heath course and give beginners the chance to learn. “My only possible criticism of the new nine-hole course is that it is too tough for most players, although great fun for a real golfer to play,” wrote Sir Henry Cotton.

We think Purdis Heath is one of the best, and certainly one of the most underrated courses in the land. It's quite staggering that a course of such quality has never been voted onto a GB&I Top 100 list. A nine-hole warm-up on the Bixley course before tackling Purdis Heath after lunch cannot be bettered anywhere in the whole of East Anglia.

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Reviews for Ipswich (Purdis Heath)

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Description: The Purdis Heath course at Ipswich Golf Club compares favourably with any inland layout in the British Isles... it's a James Braid classic. Rating: 5.2 out of 6 Reviews: 15

The Purdis Heath layout at Ipswich Golf Club is an intimate heathland course played over rolling terrain and through beautiful, tranquil woodland in the heart of Suffolk.

It’s very easy on the eye and recent bunker renovations have elevated this course to one that is now knocking on the door of the country’s elite inland venues. As to whether it will gain entrance is an altogether different question.

Some may suggest its location doesn’t do it any favours and the old adage that “If it was on the Surrey sandbelt….” may have an element of truth in it but that never really washes with me. I’m more inclined to reason that if a course is good enough it will be recognised as such regardless of where it is situated.

In my opinion if Ipswich can’t quite be talked about in the same breath as the Surrey and Berkshire powerhouses (not that this unpretentious club claims to be) it isn’t too far away and is clearly going in the right direction.

It should also be noted that there is a second course, the 9-hole Bixley, which although I didn’t get to see on my flying visit is reported to be of a similar ilk to its big brother and well worth playing if one has the time.

Back to the main course and each hole is different; the natural contours of the truly majestic property were used exceptionally well by James Braid in 1926 to create a highly enjoyable golfing experience. There are a number of wonderful green locations; some perched up high, others etched seamlessly into the hillside and of course the memorable sunken green at the fourth. Ipswich mixes it up very well and oozes character.

The heavily bunkered course is routed quite superbly and is one of those where you truly get lost. After half-a-dozen holes you could have asked me to point in the direction of the clubhouse and I wouldn’t have had a clue. In fact it wasn’t until looking at the overhead plan of the course after the round that I realised the 10th green is actually quite close to the clubhouse; I would have otherwise guessed that we were at the farthest point away from it! The back nine then wraps itself around the inner front-nine in what is roughly a U-shape for the entire layout.

There are clearly some extremely fine holes but it just doesn’t quite have that killer instinct which I personally look for in a truly top class golf course. The 18 holes as a collective are far from easy but the fast running nature of the firm fairways along with the downhill changes in elevation on some of the longer two-shotters do make it play shorter than the already modest yardage of 6,439 (par 71) suggests. I’m certainly not an advocate of adding length to courses but it did feel at times that it just need to pack that extra punch.

To say it’s more a case of style over substance at Purdis Heath is admittedly harsh, and is not quite what I’m getting at, but the missing ingredient is definitely a bit of bite. I’m sure others, who’ve played the course more times than me, will disagree but I can only speak from experience.

Regardless of this minor niggle I thoroughly enjoyed playing here on what is undoubtedly a much unheralded course and one that is clearly on the rise. Expect to hear more about Ipswich Golf Club in the future. Much more.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

5 / 6
Ipswich (Purdis Heath)
June 05, 2017


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I played Purdis again on our annual visit in October and I’m most impressed by the bunker renovations which have improved the course significantly. For me Ipswich is now underrated and should site alongside the likes of the Addington and West Hill. I liked it before the renovations and now I love it. It’s not quite in the top league but it’s not far off.

5 / 6
Ipswich (Purdis Heath)
December 16, 2016


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I'm writing this review to get a sense of perspective here. This is certainly a very good course but to give it 6 balls to compare with the likes of Pebble Beach, Augusta? Do me a favour. And trust me I really do like the course, it's just not even in my top 10 that I've played in Britain this year.I play this once or twice a year and would say the condition this year was not as good as 2013 when it was the best in Suffolk. This year I would put Woodbridge at the top of my list but again that realistically gets 4-5 stars max.I've nothing to add on the details of the holes which are covered on other reviews. Just a quick reality check.Overall recommended just don't expect it to be something it's not.
4 / 6
Ipswich (Purdis Heath)
October 25, 2014


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Why did it take me nine years to return – what a mistake! I knew what to expect of the course and it delivered once again but this visit was even better. I gave the course a 5-ball rating back on 07/09/05 and that stays the same, quality throughout and some fantastic holes. The reason for an enhanced visit this time was a warm-up game on the 9-hole Bixley course, which is great fun – eight of the nine holes are just mini versions of holes on the main course and an ideal start to a 27 hole day. The club is a very friendly place and an obvious comment is, as this could be described as ‘out in the sticks’ of Suffolk not enough golfers take the chance to play – without a doubt, if this was in big county for quality courses; Surrey, Kent or Lancashire there would be so many more visitor green fees. My advice is just go and you will experience a heathland classic that is difficult to find fault with. My favourite run of holes are, 10th to 12th – one of each par and just delightful. The message from the club is that things are going to get even better as they start a five year plan to upgrade the 101 bunkers on the main course and the 27 on the Bixley (a huge task) - Current position of #56 in England is great but I think there is still a little room for improvement over the next few years.
5 / 6
Ipswich (Purdis Heath)
June 21, 2014


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It's been about 10 years since I last played Purdis Heath and it's a Ipswich (Main) Golf Course - Photo by reviewershame it has been that long because this is a beauty. Should be higher in the rankings as it is very reminiscent of the famous 'Surrey' courses in its look and its character. Every hole has a different feel, and even the shorter ones are quirky enough to add a challenge. This is a delight to play and the clubhouse has a nice old world feel to it. Less than an hour from the M25 it's a hidden gem. There is a little par 3 that bears some similarity to the 3rd at Woburn's Duke's course, the 9th is a short but treacherously narrow par 4, the SI 1 5th is a good drive and 5 wood to a green that is guarded as well as Fort Knox. Fantastic course.
6 / 6
Ipswich (Purdis Heath)
November 11, 2013


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Really good, fun and interesting course. In very good condition. The club are working towards restoring the heathland nature of this course - I'd like them to be even bolder and thin/clear a lot more trees to encourage heather regeneration. Played this, then Aldeburgh - both fab.
5 / 6
Ipswich (Purdis Heath)
October 16, 2013


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I visited Ipswich for the first time in September with great expectation having read what a lovely course this was. Quite often this scenario can lead to disappointment. Well, not this time, in fact far from it, this was one of those rare days when you find a course to be much better than you ever imagined. So much here is reminiscent of and comparable to the best golf along the Surrey sandbelt. You will have no problem remembering every hole afterwards because each one is Ipswich (Main) Golf Course - Photo by reviewerdifferent in character. The heather lined bunkers add to the charm and hole after hole oozes class. Favourite holes…where do you start… all four par 3’s are very good, the 15th downhill over water is possibly my pick. On the front nine I loved the quirky 4th with its sunken green nestled in a picturesque dell, the tough 5th with a beautiful lake as a backdrop, the downhill drive on 8 and the stunning short par 4 9th, a risk and reward hole if ever there was one. On the back nine the 10th is a fine par 3 and the 12th (probably my favourite), takes you downhill over heather, not the longest but what a great looking hole. The quality continues with two strong par 4’s followed by the aforementioned 15th. If you have time before or after your round the short 9-hole course is well worth a look, a few holes on there are real beauties. Perhaps its location in deepest Suffolk has meant that Purdis Heath doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves. A few may knock it for being a bit short at just 6200 yards off the yellows, but not me, go and play this hidden treasure, you will love every minute. Brian W
5 / 6
Ipswich (Purdis Heath)
September 30, 2013


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A real gem, how on earth is it rated so high and higher than the potato field that is The Oxfordshire, who does these rankings ? Cant remeber a weak hole, good conditions and friendly club house.
6 / 6
Ipswich (Purdis Heath)
May 24, 2011


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Boy o boy this is way too low a rating. The course is remarkably high quality and has a rare presence about it in terms of aesthetics -great use of the natural contours nothing forced or artificial here- the 6th hole is a wonderful, classic tough par three with a plateau green. Very friendly club -will return soon
5 / 6
Ipswich (Purdis Heath)
September 07, 2010


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If the back 9 is a good as the front then why is this course only ranked 91 in England. Unfortunately we only played to the 9th green as torentual rain forced us to stop but to there the holes were fantastic. This in my opinion is one of the best courses in the country certainly top 20. Get the reviewers out to have another look !!!!!!!!!!!!!
6 / 6
Ipswich (Purdis Heath)
July 27, 2010


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Andy
June 18, 2014
Great to see the progress in the rankings of this great course; #91 in England back in 2010 and now #56....