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.”
Played Cromer for the first time in a 20 mph wind and i have to say it made it a challenge that could be described as hard and even unfair. The course layout, bunkering and condition was fantastic, with some amazing views of the holes and surrounding areas. It was made very tricky (unfair) by the rough which if the ball went in, it was lost. I think unfortunately it was the weather or time of year to make the rough so thick and lush but with blind shots and many undulations, it did make it hard work, many other golfers were complaining as we played around. That aside, the golf course is a great course and should be on everyones list when you are in Norfolk. The holes are varied and interesting right from the start of the round to the end, the back nine being the better of the two. The course definitely makes you use every shot in your locker and ones that arent. In benign conditions it would be more playable but when the wind blows in the present state, it is a real test, so go with an open mind, lots of spare golf balls and enjoy the course. I must say the WHS rating is a joke, it is a far harder test.
I'm playing Royal Cromer in a few weeks time, so your review has whetted my appetite. I will however be hoping for a still day!
Hi Andy, if the wind blows and you are good in the wind, or have played it before, it should be no problem, it is wide enough but with run offs and undulations, the rough becomes no man's land. But it has jumped into my top 20 of best courses, that i have ever played, its charming and wild all at the same time. I have no problem with a challenge, i like it, i just get annoyed when i hit some "good" shots that were not quite in the right spot and lost the ball completely. But thats golf. I have played easier links courses than that and i didn't enjoy them as much, so go and enjoy.
Beautiful cliff top views and a tricky course when the wind is up. They're making some great upgrades to the course such as improving tee boxes with railway sleepers and adding crushed seashells to paths, a really nice touch. I'd personally rate Cromer a smidge higher than nearby Sheringham
From the moment we arrived and received a great welcome from the professional, secretary and green keeper we quickly fell in love with this place. We were fortunate in the mild dry weather for early spring made for a perfect day. However the best was still to come, the course was amazing with hole after hole providing interesting and quirky challenges that require every facet of shot making. The course was in fabulous condition for anytime of the year let alone so early in the season, clearly huge investment in this club with all the work being completed to the highest of standards, if you get chance to play here make sure you do
We were lucky enough to play here on a warm sunny summer day, so were able to enjoy the spectacular views of the coast. This clifftop course has some significant undulations and offers a roller roaster ride.
The opening hole starts with a blind drive and is a bit of an uninspiring start, but the course soon improves. Generally, the greens are small, often elevated, and surrounded by heavy rough and bracken, which mean that the shorter par fours played much tougher than the yardage on the scorecard suggests.
Given the changes in elevation, there was quite a lot of guesswork as a first time visitor, this is one of those courses where it's not all laid out in front of you so you need to play it several times to understand the lines.
With the stunning views of the coast from a number of parts of the course it is easy to overlook what a very good golf course this is. Ok the first five holes do not have views of the sea but they are solid holes with a medium length dog leg left to right par 4, straight away medium length par 4, a brilliant sort par 4 which dog legs right to left, a long (450 yes) straight away par 4, from a raised tee box providing wonderful views of 7 or 8 other holesand the 5th is a gentle right to left par 5. The 6th hole runs along the cliff / coast is utterly gorgeous - it is also an excellent strong par 4 of 440 yards. There is a very clever design theme here as the long par 4s tend to be downhill and the short par 4 are invariably uphill. Yes it is undulating and there are some serious walks up to tees. The pay off in terms of scenery is well worth some lung busting walks ( especially on the back 9). The only 15th hole was literally the only hole on the course that I did not enjoy and this was only because it felt a little tight and claustrophobic which was slightly at odds with the rest of the course. Greens were excellent as is the firm turf on the fairways. This course is severely underrated and should be comfortably in the top 100 in England.
Cromer was our last course on a Norfolk golf trip. I struggle to see how this course isn’t rated higher. The overall views, style and closing 9 holes is superb.
We played this on a cloudy and wind not blowing heavy day and I can only imagine what this would be like in worse conditions.
Greens are very quick and some very tough approach shots.
From a scenic prospective there are not many courses to beat the sea views and magical to play towards a lighthouse on the back nine on two holes. If you are not straight, very tough and penal but accept it and enjoy the venue.
Hunstanton is much more a classic links. Sheringham is very similar, with superb views and great layout but we felt as a four ball collectively that the back nine was a standout across the weekend.
A very charming links/heathland course, that mixes great elevation changes with spectacular views. There are some very ordinary holes, but for the most part there holes are really good. Especially good holes are 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 14, 15 and 17.
Well worth a stop if in the area.
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