As far as popular golfing destinations go, Suffolk unfairly flies under the radar. As a consequence, surprisingly few golfers have been to or are even aware of the Purdis Heath course at Ipswich Golf Club. This is something that needs turning on its head as there’s some quality heathland golf in this region and Purdis Heath sits at the top of the tree. I say heathland golf, but Purdis Heath actually plays as a parkland-heathland hybrid due to its treelined fairways; a more modest version of Wentworth wouldn’t be a too unfair comparison. From the tunnel entrance through the stylish powder-pink clubhouse that provides passage to the first tee to the course’s manicured fairways and Martin Hawtree inspired renovated bunkers, this is quite the chic golf club.
The course is interestingly routed with holes that wend their way around the large Decoy Pond before doubling back upon itself. Some of the holes are nothing short of outstanding and with this originally being a James Braid design, his courses always offer something unique. His gift to Ipswich Golf Club is the unconventional par four 4th hole that features a blind drop-shot down a bank to the green that characterises Braid’s design creativity, so be sure to check the position of the pin using the illustration on the tee before playing this hole. The opening and closing few holes are polished golf holes, but it’s the middle section of the course where Purdis Heath hides its delights. The 6th is a gorgeous par three to an elevated green and comes sandwiched between two of the toughest holes on the course. The 9th provides a chance to recover with a birdie opportunity as this beauty of a short par four is played amongst some tall, elegant pines whilst the 10th is the prettiest of par threes, circled again by trees, but you’ll need to avoid the sharp, treacherous drop to the left of the green. The backdrop to the long 11th is sadly blighted by static cabins but the wonderful second shot to the rising uphill 12th presents itself as a glorious golf hole as you play up and over bunkers embedded into the face of the climb.
Having played Woodbridge in the morning, I found the course lacking the turf conditions of its near neighbour or similarly Aldeburgh up the coast, but that’s undoubtedly an unfair comparison given the extraordinary sandy sites that those two courses are blessed with. I also felt that whilst the bunkering was stunningly presented, it came across slightly clean and generic, a little templated if you will, but it still makes for spectacular visuals. I’m admittedly guilty of nitpicking of the highest order with these last two comments though given that my overriding opinion of Purdis Heath is that this is a very high quality course, justly deserving of its England top 50 status.
Date: February 10, 2020