The historic market town of King’s Lynn is the gateway to the North Norfolk Coast for many golfers travelling to play Royal West Norfolk and Hunstanton. The vast majority take the ring road around the town and most are completely unaware that one of East Anglia’s finest courses lies hidden away in the trees a couple of miles north of the town centre.
King’s Lynn Golf Club was originally founded in 1923 and a decision was taken in 1975 to move the course to its present location. It was a great decision. The new land is ideal golfing country, well drained, heavily wooded and exceptionally pretty. Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas were gifted the most ideal site and they have created a charming course which weaves its way between trees of all description.
There’s a hint of Wentworth, a touch of Woking and a sprinkling of Woburn here at Kings Lynn. There’s also a great deal of challenge. Course management is key to scoring well and position from the tee is crucial otherwise you can wave goodbye to any idea of making par. There are no tricks up King’s Lynn’s sleeve, everything is laid out clearly in front of you and it’s obvious what you need to do, but it’s easier said than done to find the correct position on the fairway.
Many holes are doglegged in shape and a couple feature the odd stray tree standing sentry in the middle of the fairway. You must plot your way round with care and precision. There is no signature hole as such, just a delightful collection of eighteen golf holes. The tee shot from the elevated 9th tee – a 513-yard par five – is perhaps the most visually inspiring. The hole is arrow straight, tunnelling its way through an endless avenue of trees. Only the straightest and stoutest hitters can hope to reach this green in two.
The conclusion to your round at King’s Lynn requires yet more precision and you’ll need to be careful, otherwise you’ll find yourself chipping back onto the green from the clubhouse patio. The final green is probably closer to the clubhouse than any 18th green in the whole of golf. Make sure you don’t three putt otherwise you must expect to see knowing smiles on the faces of the members.
Firstly, I need to state I personally don’t think that tight, tree-lined courses generally produce the best of golf. Strategy is diminished, playing surfaces can be affected and repeatedly asking a golfer to simply keep his ball on the straight and narrow, and punishing them if they don’t, doesn’t really do it for me. I prefer angles and wide open spaces.
There is, however, a ‘but’ coming and King’s Lynn gets a pass from me. This is largely because the terrain, particularly on the front nine, is fabulous for golf and although there is a large premium on accuracy (I measured the second fairway at just 14 paces wide!) you are actually asked to work the ball through the narrow corridors and use the lay of the land to your advantage. Shaping the ball off the tee is essential at King’s Lynn and is its trump card.
It also gets the benefit of the doubt because the turf is excellent. Carved through Castle Rising Forest the property is free draining, fast running and the greens were beautifully firm yet receptive on my visit. Finally, whilst this is one of the narrowest golf courses I’ve ever played a lot of tree clearance is continually being done and sometimes you do have chance of a risky progression if you wander offline; hit a wide one and the game’s not completely over.
The first five holes are a brilliant example of how to route a golf course through woodland. Yes, they could be a bit wider but the round starts with four modest two-shotters followed by a dainty par-three, so you don’t really require any big hitting.
With the land twisting and turning through prime woodland and played to wonderful green sites you’re asked to work the ball both ways from the tee through snaking, undulating fairways before exciting approaches to lofty greens.
King’s Lynn reminded me a little bit of Worksop in Nottinghamshire and The Duchess course at Woburn. It’s perhaps best described as a hybrid of both of those for those who know them. It has its limitations for sure but there is also a bit of individuality to it, bags of character, and as far as woodland courses go this is one of the best.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
I played this course around 2 years ago without any idea what a gem it would be! I have not yet played a better inland course in Norfolk. It is tight, tree lined and forces you to move the ball both ways within the opening four holes. Great layout with good rolling greens that are fair. You will enjoy any round here and the clubhouse is very friendly too. Worth a trip if you have not played.
King's Lynn has to be one of my favourite courses in Norfolk. Best inland for me over Thetford and Weston Park however underrated as a course due to the quality Norfolk has with links courses.
It's a golf course where you can look at the scorecard and wonder how you can't have a good round of golf there, that is until you step onto the first tee! If it hadn't have been for some trees taken out of the left and back of the hole last year it's a very common feeling to feel suffocated on the first tee and many others as you endeavour further into the Castle Rising Forest.
There are a large amount of good golf holes which vary from flat to hilly holes, the toughest being a very challenging 370 yard par 4 which tempts you to take a driver out on the dog leg right hole. A slice will give you a bitter pill to swallow by giving you no option but to chip out and a bad enough hook will take you out of bounds. If you're lucky enough to find the tough left to right sloping fairway, a small elevated green with bunkers both sides leaves you less chance of making your par.
The fairways at KLGC are always in immaculate condition I just wish I could say the greens were too, they tend to be slow and in my opinion at this current time, the only thing from stopping the club from rocketing up the rankings in Norfolk and getting into the top 100 in England again.
All 3 par 5's here at King's Lynn are very reachable for the longer hitters, should you find the fairways. A downside of the course for me is the moderately sized tree standing in the middle of the tight 7th fairway. No logical explanation for me as to why you should be punished for a good shot on what is already a tough, tight hole.
The signature hole at King's Lynn is the 9th which sits at 510 from an elevated tee, you need a very delicate tee shot in order to hit the green in two which is very well protected by a mature oak tree and bunker. Crossing over the car park onto the 10th sees the second par 5 which is another good reachable par 5 should you hit it straight. Then comes a tough few holes with 11 being a 440 par four from the tips with the only big water hazard on the course to the right of the green. There was talk of bringing that more into play changing that into a par 5 playing your third over the water which to me is a brilliant idea. The par 3 12th a tight challenging par 3 measuring 210 where you're happy to walk off with par then onto the last par 5 which has you thinking if its worth trying to carry the second dike at around 230-240 to go for the green in two.
14,15 and 16 are a lovely few holes as you nearer the end of the course finishing with a great shortish par 4 which needs such a good positioned tee shot. With members sitting outside on the terrace just past the practice green, probably a wise idea to get your club selection right for your last full shot of the day as you want to be hitting close to the pin and gaining a rare round of applause from the spectators beyond rather than a cheer of being the only person in a while to hit the clubhouse!!
Overall a very good test of golf for the short course, but play to your handicap round King's Lynn and you won't be unhappy!