Set out across a former steeplechase course and polo grounds on the southeast perimeter of Newmarket racecourse, the 18-hole layout at Links Golf Club dates back to 1902. Colonel Stafford Vere Hotchkin redesigned the course in the 1930s and not a lot has changed since then.
There’s a training track named the Gallops surrounding the course and on a couple of holes (at the 7th and 15th) the tee shot has to fly the white rails before reaching the fairway. On several other holes (such as the 15th and 16th), the railings designate out of bounds along one side of the fairway.
The bunkers might not be as deep as those designed by the Colonel at Woodhall Spa but there are plenty of them and golfers will do well to avoid having to play a sand shot at some point during their round here – the full fairway-width bunker in front of the green on the left doglegged 16th is a particularly interesting old-fashioned specimen.
The club is affiliated to the Cambridgeshire Area Golf Union, despite its location in Suffolk, so that’s why the course is assigned a position in our Cambridgeshire Best in County rankings.
Cambridgeshire isn't blessed with the ideal golfing land. Most of it is very flat meaning although it's a fairly friendly walk, it's usually uninspiring and samey. This would explain why this is one of few counties that feature a top 100 course.
The Links is sat just over the road from Newmarket race course a few hundred yards away and whilst you can't really see anything from that side, the golf course is surrounded by a training ring and old steeplechase circuit. It's hard to miss the white fencing, synonymous with horse racing which you can see on the majority of the holes.
Although you may be fooled by the name, The Links is a parkland course with hints of gorse. I tend to look out for routing and bunkering the most with these style of courses because they can get a little boring fairly quickly and I feared this place was going to meet that same fate after just a few holes.
Alas after the 3rd fairly underwhelming tight par 5 in the space of 5 holes the 6th caught me off guard a little. 3 different angles to go off from the tee choice to a fairly modest in length par 4 to a green with trees guarding the entrance short making it a very fiddly shot.
Hole 7 and 15 both take great use of the land and place the white tees at the other side of the white fencing requiring you to hit over the area where the horses train. The 15th from an elevated tee is my pick of the two with a fantastic view of the edge of the course as well as down the hill towards the green.
Apart from this, the only other nameworthy hole to me is 14. An incredibly narrow drivable par 4 that requires you to be on the left side of the fairway if you don't go for it. All the other holes are fairly uninspiring parkland holes with some sprinkles of gorse.
Condition wise was pretty good. Greens looked amazing but rolled on the slow side. I personally think they could work a little on the rough however. Losing a ball in the trees because the grass isn't cut just adds to the issue for me. It would also go a long way to help slow play. It's a difficult enough golf course as it is. Chipping out should be punishment enough.
I'd say the bunkers need work too. Some need more sand and some are just fairly bland. Getting someone in to remove a few, remodel a few and add a few probably would do some good. Not a fan at all of the 70 yard bunker across the fairway, needs either remodelling or just completely axing.
All in all, it cost £40 to play and it's fantastic value for money. It's a tough test of golf especially with the 3 club wind I played in and it seems like a great community there too. I finished at 8pm and there were still 20 or so people in the clubhouse which is nice to see.
Worth a trip to come and play, you can't go wrong here but out of what you'd expect in Cambridgeshire, this is probably on the quirkier side..
A beautiful links golf club with a very pleasing layout, I loved how you can watch the horses being trained whilst teeing off. The course has some great par 4s and challenging par 5s.
Although this is a solid course in its own right (redesigned in the 1930s by Colonel Hotchkin of Woodhall Spa fame), it is the location of the course which makes it an extra special golfing experience. It is built adjacent to the Newmarket horse race course and is completely surrounded by a training course known as the "Gallops". This wonderful quirkiness is epitomised by holes 7 and 15 which have their tees built the other side of the Gallops i.e. you drive over the Gallops horse track from a substantially raised tee which makes the holes interesting and providing views of the surrounding countryside. Both these holes are strong par 4s and would be excellent holes even without the spectacular drives. The white railings of the Gallops provides the perimeter to holes 6, 15 and 16 and is also visible on holes 2, 3, 13, 14 and 17.
In addition to holes 7 and 15, other standout holes are:-
1 - par 5 (524 yds) - drive requiring a carry of 150 yards over the Gallops with good bunkering all the way up the hole making the lay up less straightforward.
6 - par 4 (401 yes) - relatively straight hole with the Gallops on the right and a row of trees placed to the left of the green.
12 - par 3 (175 yds) - green surrounded by bunkers including a cavenous one in front of the green
16 - par 4 (385 yds) - dog leg right to left with a bunker across the full width of the fairway.
In summary, a thoroughly enjoyable course and worth a visit.