Royal West Norfolk - Norfolk - England

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club,
Brancaster,
Norfolk,
PE31 8AX,
England


  • +44 (0) 1485 210223

  • Golf Club Website

  • 7 miles E of Hunstanton

  • Contact in advance – restricted at weekends

  • Tim Stephens

  • Holcombe Ingleby and Horace Hutchinson

  • Simon Rayner

Founded in 1892, Royal West Norfolk Golf Club is a classic, nothing much has changed here for 100 years. Squeezed beautifully between Brancaster Bay and the salt marshes, Royal West Norfolk truly is a peaceful golf links, except when the wind blows and boy, is the wind bracing here!

Check the tide times before you plan your trip to Royal West Norfolk Golf Club. The course plays on a narrow strip of links-land which gets cut off at high tide, turning it into an island. If you are lucky enough to play the course during high tide, you are in for a real treat; the downside is that you will need plenty of golf balls.

Prior to your game, grab a quick drink in the oak-panelled Smoke Room inside the Victorian clubhouse and check the wind speed on the gauge next to the bar. If you want to eat after your round, make sure you order before you play, otherwise you will only be offered a choice of delicious cakes.

“In the days of the gutty it was most emphatically a driver’s course,” wrote Bernard Darwin in his book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, “since nobody could get over the ground without exceptional hitting. Even now, when the pampering Haskell has noticeably reduced its terrors, it is still a driver’s course, in the sense that it is one on which one derives the maximum of sensual pleasure from opening one’s shoulders for a wooden club shot.”

Out on the course, you feel delightfully isolated; often all you can hear are the seductive sounds of the wind, the seagulls, the clinking of stays and the flapping of boat sails. Essentially, the course is a traditional out and back links; huge sleeper-faced bunkers, fast greens and that beautiful links turf. A magical place to play golf. However, three-ball play is only allowed at the discretion of the Secretary and four-ball play is forbidden.

“Few things are more terrifying than the first hole at Brancaster on a cold, raw, windy morning,” wrote Darwin, “when our wrists are stiff and our beautiful steely-shafted driver feels like a poker. There is a bunker – really a very big, deep bunker – right in front of our noses.”

Beware the weather at Brancaster though; it can take you by surprise. We played here in late spring and ignored the black clouds to the west. After all, we were on the 15th and the sun was shining. By the time we reached the 17th it was raining and by the 18th, we faced a full-blown tempest. When, soaked to the skin, we arrived to knowing smiles in the clubhouse, the wind gauge was fluctuating between 50 and 55mph.

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Reviews for Royal West Norfolk

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Description: Check the tide times before you plan your trip to Royal West Norfolk Golf Club, the course plays on a narrow strip of links-land which gets cut off at high tide, turning it into an island. Rating: 5.3 out of 6 Reviews: 57
TaylorMade
Jim McCann

Set out at one of the most remarkable places a golfer could ever hope to encounter, Brancaster is an absolutely charming course to play – even when faced, as I was a couple of days ago, with a 30mph wind all the way home from the 10th to the 18th!

It really is a special place, which is evident as soon as you turn into the car park beside the weathered old clubhouse.

I liked the quirkiness of the four old-fashioned fairway crossings at the 2nd and 17th, the 4th and the 5th, but, even more than that, I loved the sleepered bunkering that appears throughout the layout because (unlike one or two more modern courses that have employed such a design feature in recent years) it complements the landscape perfectly. Royal West Norfolk Golf Course - Photo by reviewer

The very short 4th is a brilliant par three, played to a green seemingly jacked up by railway ties and this was my favourite hole on the course – until I came to the unique pair of holes at 8 and 9 that play across tidal marshes.

I’ve never before faced such naturally intimidating features (the tall rushes of Royal North Devon are probably the wildest I’d come across until then) and was glad I’d a strong wind at my back to help me make the long carries from the tee and to the green. Incredibly, I’ve since been told these holes are even MORE scary when the tide’s in, covering the marshes!

The back nine was tough going, playing against the aforementioned sea breeze, but that didn’t stop me admiring the ferocity of the challenge at the par three 15th, where the tee shot has a long forced carry over the tallest wall of wooden sleepers that I’ve ever seen in my life – it must be all of 30 feet high!

The downstairs Smoke Room in the clubhouse has to be the most informal club lounge I’ve ever relaxed in after a round – there’s even a dozen gents lockers located in one corner of the old room! Too bad that dogs which often accompany golfers out in the links have now been barred from sitting with their master as they enjoy a post match refreshment as that would just add to the laid back atmosphere of the place.

By introducing a revised green fee structure this season, secretary Ian Symington hopes to steer more visitors into playing foursomes golf on the course and I have to think that particular golfing format seems most appropriate for Royal West Norfolk.

Jim McCann

April 04, 2011
6 / 6
Royal West Norfolk
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Ivan
Have to say very disappionted. We played on the Friday of the Open when they had a wind delay and it was blowing 30mph in Norwich many flag sticks at 8 O'clock. The wind made thing very difficult but with burnt fairways it was difficult to navigate and fairly easy to play as there is little trouble of the T. A few holes were virtually impossible with the wind - but have to say way too high in the rankings, much prefered Sheringham and Hunstanton both played on the same trip.
July 26, 2010
3 / 6
Royal West Norfolk
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Patrick McGarey
I played on a sunny and windless morning in April 2010, and doubt these conditions are replicated too often! As a result, the course probably played a bit easier for me than is the norm. Overall a wonderful, old-style, quirky links layout, with positively Olympic bunkering on several holes. Holes #8 and #9 have been widely and rightfully praised for their unique tidal flat character. Many other holes are memorable as well. After teeing off as a single, I wound up letting a group of four playing alternate shot golf pass through me just to be able to play at my "slower" pace (roughly three hours for 18 holes, so not dawdling badly) and drink in the traditional surroundings. The clubhouse is a trove of golf history and the members proudly showed me some memorobilia such as the century old Suggestion Book. A must-play course for any trip to this area.
May 12, 2010
6 / 6
Royal West Norfolk
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tom rodwell
Just recently went on a norfolk golf tour, planned to play Royal West Norfolk and Hunstanton. I have no idea why this course is ranked so highly. A large array of bland par 3's followed by short par 5's . Need a consistant straight drive on this course to master it. I play off 15 and shot an 83, overall good golf course.
April 13, 2010
4 / 6
Royal West Norfolk
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ron
May 16, 2010
I have no idea why this course is so highly regarded. Like Royal Dublin it is more or less 9 out in one direction and 9 back in the opposite direction. There the similarity ends. The Irish course is far better designed constructed and maintained. The club house in Dublin is far superior and all in all the Dublin course is a far better test of golf. I have absolytely no desire to return to Brancaster for golf.
Hugh
November 03, 2010
Give me Brancaster over Dollymount any day of the week. RWN is far superior to RD... not even comparable.
Cameron Roy
Having 2 really young children has put a curb on my golfing opportunities so when my wife told me to take a golfing holiday I jumped at the opportunity and planned a trip to Norfolk and Lincolnshire. Royal West Norfolk was first on my list of three courses (Hunstanton and Woodhall Spa being the other two - reviews to follow). Having a few weeks to plan meant that I booked a tee time, spent hours reading reviews about the course and building up my expectations. The drive to the course is special. As you wind through the reeds on the causeway, you can see the club house on top of the dunes in the distance and you start to get a feel for the isolation of the place. Being a lone golfer was an issue because of the two ball rule which RWN operate. When making my booking I did ask if they could pair me up someone else but it seems that no member would dare play alone and as such I made my way out by myself. The walk to the first tee is also unique. Crossing the sandy walkway to Brancaster beach, up the wooden pathway and through the wrought iron gates quickens your pulse in expectation. I was immediately met by a foursome coming off the 18th green with 3 dogs in tow. It seems that having a dog is almost mandatory for members. Dogs are allowed to run off the leash and each tee has a water bowl for their refreshment. I think this policy is refreshing and more clubs should think about adopting this. The course itself was slightly disappointing due to a lack of elevation changes that I would expect from a links course. The bunkering, though, is spectacularly beautiful and I was caught out a few times by bunkers which I could not see from where I was playing from. The huge bunker on the par 3 15th is especially fabulous. The routing of the course is good and you play to all points of the compass. The flatness of holed 7 to 11 make judging distances difficult and I found myself under clubbing quite a bit. I did play on a very benign day and the course was without its usual defense mechanism. The greens are small which means that you have to be very accurate with your approach shots. This is a solid links course but I do think that Hunstanton is a better course despite what the rankings might say. I did enjoy my day out despte playing alone and would recommend a round here to anyone who enjoys their golf.
November 09, 2009
4 / 6
Royal West Norfolk
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John Mawer
How true the reference to ‘golf factories’. I have just enjoyed a wonderful 36 holes 2-ball with 3 friends at RWN. Both rounds under 3 hours, magnificent fish & chips for lunch and I remembered to bring some biscuits to leave for the members dogs. As I was playing, I sympathised with my poor brother suffering a corporate day at Celtic Manor with his boss. I wonder if foursomes has ever been played around that place?
October 13, 2009
6 / 6
Royal West Norfolk
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Patrick Slamin
March 20, 2018

Seeing as it was built for the Ryder Cup somehow I imagine it has.

Kevan Voce
I've played 12 of the Bristish Open venues but this is without doubt the best play to play golf in the British Isles. Everything oozes class. The drive to the clubhouse, the dog bowls outside, everything that golf should be. We played in June and the weather was perfect, you can't beat the top end of the course with the views over Brancaster Staithe. We had intended to play a second afternoon rounds as thetide was not coming in until 5pm. However, after a nice bottle of claret we decided to "draw to stumps". Best hole = 3rd. Highlight of day: the number of jolly members playing foursomes with their dogs. Low point - the old manually-written handicap board has gone!
October 13, 2009
6 / 6
Royal West Norfolk
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Tom
September 09, 2010
As a member at Brancaster, I must say you've it the nail on the head with "everything that golf should be". It is not the biggest test of your game (except when the wind starts blowing over 30mph) but it has so much relaxed class that you'll wonder why other clubs are so stuffy, when it's clearly possible to have a fabulous club without it! Hunstanton is a tougher test of your golf, no doubt, but would I switch my membership - not on your nelly!!
stephen voce
As a test of golf there are better.As a golf club its probably the best i`ve ever been to.The total antithesis to all those golf "factories" that have helped ruin the sport. This like Royal County Down is a "must play" and i can`t think of anywhere i`d rather be a member of. Natural genius.
October 10, 2009
6 / 6
Royal West Norfolk
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Craig Morrison
Brancaster, Royal West Norfolk as it’s officially known, is perhaps the most charming place to play the great game anywhere in the world. It has something of Elie and Crail about it, those Scottish east coast layouts which are partly holiday courses and partly tests good golfers might also enjoy. But such comparisons are perhaps pointless; Brancaster is unique. It’s arguably not as serious a course as nearby Hunstanton. But most people, myself included, would rate this one more highly. The eighth and ninth are two of the greatest holes I can think of. Standing on the tenth tee, the furthest point on the course, those two fabulous holes just completed, listening to the creaking of masts in the harbour from boats on a rising early autumn tide: not much is better. I’ve been lucky enough to play the course during a supremely high swell. The great eighth becomes a series of islands to play between. Natural water hazards appear on the ninth too. The fairways narrow and the course takes on a new character. It’s a smart set which plays its golf here. The morning of a high tide sees any number of Majors and their families drinking champagne at 7am from the back of their estate cars while all around them fills with sea water and the road to the course becomes unpassable for a few hours leaving them with their own private sea island playground. It’s none the worse for this. Visitors are welcome and drinking a bitter shandy and eating a pint of prawns on the balcony afterwards those Majors will no doubt be altogether cordial. ANGLOSCOT
August 19, 2009
5 / 6
Royal West Norfolk
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jon dougherty
Where do you start with RWNG. In 20 yrs of playing golf I have not found a more remarkable setting for a course -squeezed inbetween the sea and tidal marshes. In many ways you feel transported back to the middle of the last century-the old clubhouse with a slight acrid smell and a main room that you feel hasn't changed since time began. The welcome was friendlly and for £75 we felt good value.The course was quiet and for 36 holes we never had to wait to play any shot. The front nine was played with the prevailing wind and although much longer on the scorecard was considerably easier.Indeed you might feel you will have one of those magical rounds after you reach the 9th green ( I know I did on both occassions) but the back nine just picked up my scorecard and tore it to shreds us . Holes 3-11 are fantastic but there really isn't a weak hole on the course although I accept maybe 18 is a bit of an anti-climax after what has gone before.Holes 8-9 around the marshes are just something totally alien to anything I have played before. I know other reviewers have called it quirky which I suppose it is with sleepers and its location but I found it much fairer than I expected and good shots were rewarded and bad just thrown off the greens into the cabbage. Overall a wonderful location for a day's golf (make sure you order your lunch before you start your round).
July 23, 2009
5 / 6
Royal West Norfolk
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