Ipswich (Purdis Heath)Ipswich, England
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. The construction of the course was actually contracted out to F.G. Hawtree and J.H. Taylor.
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.
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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James Braid was born in 1870 in Earlsferry, the adjoining village to Elie in the East Neuk of Fife. He became a member of Earlsferry Thistle aged fifteen and was off scratch by his sixteenth birthday.