The par 5 8th hole at Brancaster is one of the best - or at least fun - holes I’ve ever played. And it’s so deceptively simple you could miss how effective it is. Or so deceptively effective that you miss how simple it is. It’s like velcro in this respect. The 3rd & 9th holes are also not far behind, and what they each have in common is basic yet optimised use of natural features to provide strategic options, from both the tee and the fairway. My favourite stretch was unsurprisingly 3-9. The back 9 can’t maintain the quality, despite containing some diverse and fun holes.
On the day we played several fairways were effectively out of commission due to maintenance work. We were not advised of this work beforehand and there was no green fee reduction for the lesser experience. It is quite a trek to get to North Norfolk and we’d actually flown into nearby Norwich specifically to play here. However, this isn’t the course’s fault, so no hard feelings. And I accidentally took a Royal West Norfolk coffee cup home with me, so we’ll call it quits. I guess the simple lesson is, when traveling for a special round, be sure to ask about any scheduled maintenance.
It’s difficult - or at least unorthodox - to review this course without making a mention of near neighbour Hunstanton. Most reviews tend to describe Brancaster as the “quirky” option and Hunstanton as the more standard “championship” course. There is some truth in this but I feel it tends to lend a lazy characterisation that is unfair to both. Brancaster has several orthodox holes and Hunstanton has a few odd ones. The sum of this stereotyping perhaps tends to favour Brancaster amongst the cognoscenti. I feel there’s very little in it and I can’t decide which I prefer. Here the highlights come earlier in the round, whereas at Hunstanton they are more evenly distributed and the 16-18 finish is more memorable.
Royal West Norfolk perhaps just shades it for me. Definitely. Hunstanton perhaps just shades it for me. Maybe. Be sure to play both
Date: October 27, 2019