Royal Cromer is the second oldest golf club in Norfolk, predated only by Great Yarmouth & Caister, which was inaugurated six years earlier. “The Club owes much in its origins and early days of difficulty to the Harbord family, led by successive Lords Suffield.” Wrote Sir Peter Allen in The Sunley Book of Royal Golf. “At the time of the formation of the Club in 1888, thanks to the efforts of Henry Broadhurst MP, Lord Suffield became the Club’s first President. As he was a friend and sometimes host to the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, HRH was asked and agreed to become the Club’s first Patron and grant the royal title.”
“Cromer, like Felixstowe, makes me feel a very old golfer,” wrote Bernard Darwin, “because, when I first played there, there was a little ladies’ course along the edge of the cliff, which has many, many years since toppled peacefully into the German Ocean. Later on, I saw an excellent seventeenth hole share the same fate, and the poor old first hole has for practical purposes gone the same way.”
Originally designed by Old Tom Morris, the cliff top Royal Cromer has had to make significant changes over the years due to coastal erosion, with architects JH Taylor, James Braid, Frank Pennink and Donald Steel involved in keeping eighteen holes in play.
The 14th is Royal Cromer’s signature hole, which heads to the lighthouse. The North Sea lurks ominously to the right and prickly gorse to the left. Take aim at the lighthouse if you’re feeling brave, but don’t go through the green with your approach shot as it’s out of bounds beyond the dance floor.“The greatest claim to fame for Royal Cromer is without doubt its organisation of the first international golf match ever played – that of the ladies of Great Britain against America as a preliminary to the British Ladies’ Championship in 1905.” Wrote Sir Peter Allen. “Matches between the ladies of England, Scotland and Ireland had been played before, but this was the first outside national boundaries… As a result of this match, the Curtis sisters presented the now famous Curtis Cup… In 1988 the two Curtis Cup teams played a match at Cromer in period dress.”
The first round of our 3 day tour of Norfolk started at Royal Cromer, with Hunstanton and Sheringham to follow.
Royal Cromer starts with a tricky par four playing into the wind which means that 2, 4 and 5 also play into the wind, this did not make for an easy start.
The course comes alive on 6 with the run of 6 through 9 being good fun. I would comment that the 7th while an exciting blind tee shot at the point that we played meant that anything left was absolutely fine.
The course then comes back to life on 13 a good par 3 followed by a lovely hole on 14 where you soon realise that a draw is the call of the day off the tee. 15 is then just about being straight anything else is probably lost which is quite penal. 17 is another nice par 3, while it is short, miss left at your peril.
The let down for us when we played was probably due to a relatively dry summer leading to baron fairways in places and dead rough which made spotting your ball if you missed the fairway difficult.
Overall the layout of the course is good, although it feels tight at times. If the fairways were better I would go with a 4 but a 3.5 for me at the time of playing.
Cromer Golf Club is a lovely layout set on the North Norfolk Coast. I have played it a handful of times in varying conditions and I really do like it. Much like it's neighbour Sheringham, it's parked up on the top of the white cliffs overlooking the sea and is of course, at the mercy of the weather! Cromer can turn very quickly into a much less enjoyable round with bad conditions simply due to it's difficulty. Tough greens to hit and long grass in close proximity requires well struck shots into greens, and in howling wind and lashing rain, it only it was that easy!
The first few holes are more inland, until you make it to the 6th, then the beauty really shows. a few holes running alongside the cliffs. A stray shot could result in another kind of sand you don't want to hit from!
As well as being more challenging than it's neighbour, it offers alot of up and down holes where it's not all about reaching for your driver. Alot of holes require consideration to hit off the tee which makes it a nice change as some links courses, especially with the wind, can be long. Not really a fan of the par 3 13th, which is a completely blind uphill par three to the new players is really a cruel test having to guess where the green or pin lies. Along these few holes when you start the incline, it shows the beauty of the shrubbery in between the holes and gives a good look just over the footpath to the almost jungle like cliff a few meters away.
The two finishing holes at Cromer are lovely. A well designed last hole with punishing bunkers as well as the very short par 3 17th over the Heathy links style long grass. The 9th also getting a mention for the unique par 3 where there are pot bunkers evenly placed all around the green. With an elevated tee and being close to the sea, club selection is vital.
Cromer benefits from a small strip of land next to the first few holes which you have to drive to for a range. Unfortunately not long enough for the average golfer to hit a drive on, better than nothing! Around the traditional clubhouse, the locker rooms emit the old fashioned vibe and the travel up the stairs into the main area to view some of the big events Cromer has held throughout the years.
If you have the time to come and play on your trip to Norfolk, Cromer is definitely one to consider.
The first 5 holes here are nothing special but things pick up on the run from 6-9, which see a coastal hole, a nice drive to an angled rising fairway, a squeezed short 4 from a raised tee, and a drop shot short hole. Quality wise you are now perhaps reminded of its neighbour Sheringham. There’s now a little more land movement and the holes get a bit more diverse and rugged.
I overshot the 7th green by half a club and was in the cabbage just a few paces from the hole. My ball was gone. It left me a bit crabby, but bad shots can get punished here, especially when hitting into greens.
The Par 4 14th hole was our favourite as you drive semi-blind up towards the lighthouse, aiming to hit the angled fairway. 15 felt like a missed opportunity and could benefit from some vegetation clearance to widen the fairway and increase playability. 17 & 18 were a decent finish.
I felt the bunkering at Royal Cromer was strange. Several sand pits were oddly shaped and often in strange positions. I even wondered if green sites had been moved over the years and the bunkers left in place. And the random abundance of pot bunkers at times, especially near the greens, reminded me of an energetic toddler with a hole punch and blank sheet of A4 paper. Often less is more more or less.
Playing here was a pleasant experience and worth the effort to get to, especially if you also intend to make a full day of it and play the superior Sheringham (which I’d save for last). This course could be improved on some holes by a bit of clearance to widen fairways and allow for some more shots around the greens, along with a more general overhaul of the bunkering. However, even as it is, there are worst places to play. This is a good course in a lovely location
Super course great fun to play brilliant condition friendly clubhouse. Yet again another great Norfolk course that is not rammed with players. Played at a good pace still with time to savour the panoramic views. Not a true links nor a true parkland course Cromer is definitely hard to bracket but that matters not , can't wait to play it again and have a drink in the very friendly bar
A group of 12 played the course and enjoyed it. It was in very good condition with great views. A real joy to play and we hope to visit again.
Played here last week, for me it is an excellent course, with only one 'average' hole, the 16th, my overall sense of this course was fun, it wasn't overly long, although I believe there is plans to lengthen in places, it simply rewards good shoots, and punishes bad ones, it continues to question your club selection, with choices off most tees, so that you have to think before you hit, rather than pull the driver every time.
Well worth a visit, and i'd like to go back myself
Played Royal Cromer this last weekend as a visitor at their reduced twilight rate from 3pm. We received a warm welcome and the shop manager couldn't do enough for us explaining the course and ensuring we were all set.
The course was a delight. Beautiful holes, particularly the stretch around the light house. The condition of the course was excellent, the bunkers and greens you could see were being looked after extremely well.
We also played Sheringham the next day which was also very good and worth playing. We found Cromer the harder course and in better condition in terms of the greens and bunkers. Cromer edged it for me.
Royal Cromer, founded in 1888, was originally designed by Old Tom Morris and has recently been recognised as one of the Top 100 Golf Courses in England.
With over 125 years of rich history The Club was given its Royal status from the very beginning through the patronage of the then, Prince of Wales, who would later become more commonly known as King Edward VII.
Royal Cromer is a venue that has been on my radar for some time so I was delighted to eventually play here in April 2016.
As you might expect of this clifftop course spectacular views can be found from many parts of the property and there’s a really good mix of fun and challenging holes to tackle along the way. It boasts many features that you would expect to find on a coastal layout with sandy hills, grassy valleys and an abundance of gorse.
However, ultimately the nature of the turf and types of grasses don’t favour the ground game - it therefore essentially plays as an inland course high above the sea. The par-72 layout will test most aspects of your game though.
Accuracy is important early on in the round, with quite a claustrophobic feel to the opening few holes, before the course begins to open up as it heads towards the coast where bigger hitting is called for.
The final six holes at Cromer is undoubtedly the best third as we now embark upon the highest section of the course. The signature 14th heads towards the lighthouse where, after a semi-blind drive, the fairway sweeps to the left and for the first time we see some low level ground movement in the terrain reminiscent of true links golf. The next is a superb hole too and is played through a vast valley that ultimately climbs to a sloping green - a visually stunning hole. The next is much more subtle with a hog’s back fairway acting as the main defence whilst the penultimate hole is a delightful 120-yarder where it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that there’s no future in missing the green left. And the 18th is a fitting climax with an elevated drive before you must attempt to find a well-bunkered, two-level green as the round finishes strongly.
Royal Cromer is a course that adds to the wealth of variety and quality on offer along the North Norfolk Coast. From the championship links of Hunstanton to the charisma of Brancaster and the drama of Sheringham this is a venue that will provide you with a memorable experience and a pleasant contrast to the others.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
This is a comprehensive and accurate review but 3 balls?
Great course! Great reception! I will come back to play again. The course should be rated higher in Top 100.
Played in their Poppyland Trophy for the first time this year, will not be my last. Everyone from the Captain (great blazer) onwards was very welcoming and friendly. EXcellent and varied course in good condition. Very up and down hill so carrying might be a problem for some.
!st. is an excellent par 4 start to a good front nine, 3,6 & 7 strong par 4's and 9 a tricky par 3. Pick of the back nine are 14 & 15 (probably best hole on the course) would hate to play 13 into a strong wind off the N.Sea and missing 17 on the left is into no mans land, an excellent short par 3.
A pint or two of Lancaster Bomber at the 19th. rounded off a great day for me.