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S edge of Skegness near Nature Reserve
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Willie Fernie, Guy Campbell
If you follow the signs to Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve, which extends along the picturesque Lincolnshire coast from the southern end of Skegness to the Wash, you'll come across a traditional bracing links. More than 150 miles of coastline stretch between Seaton Carew and Hunstanton – Seacroft is the very best seaside links you'll find in between.
Originally founded in 1895, Seacroft Golf Club started out in life as a nine-hole course and, in 1900, Willie Fernie extended it to 18 holes. Sir Guy Campbell made alterations in the 1920s, although nine of Fernie's original holes still remain intact. "It is one of those courses that runs, roughly speaking, straight out and home," wrote Bernard Darwin in The Golf Courses of the British Isles. "And the nine holes that we play with the wind in our face we think really beautiful, while with the wind behind us we are just a little disappointed... it must often happen that the wind is neither for us nor against us, but blows straight across the course. Then the golf must be really difficult, for the fairway is uniformly narrow and the rough wonderfully tenacious."
The course begins in pleasant suburbia and immediately the scene is set – accurate driving is the order of the day at Seacroft Golf Club. The outward nine occupies lower lying ground, a small dune ridge runs down the left and the road to Gibraltar Point and out-of-bounds lies threateningly to the right. The 8th hole, called "Sand Pit", epitomises the challenge. From the back tee you have to drive bravely over the edge of the road. To make matters worse, a cross bunker waits eagerly to catch your best drive. The 9th hole, a par five called "Gibraltar", will stick firmly in the memory on the way out.
Coming home, there is a feeling of elevated spaciousness, which lulls the unsuspecting into a false sense of security. Gone is the road to Gibraltar Point, instead there's acres of gorse. This is no place to open your shoulders. "Sea View", the par five 13th, "strikes equal terror into the soul," wrote Darwin. "Here the hole stands on a small plateau, and in front is a big bunker in the face of the hill...and the hole lives up to its name, for there is a view of a big stretch of sea."
Apart from straight hitting, you'll need to score well on each of the four excellent short holes. The 12th, called "Island", is a cracking par three (a par four for the ladies). It measures 210 yards and invariably plays directly into the teeth of the prevailing wind – a par here is one to savour.
Seacroft is certainly off the beaten track and Skegness isn't the holiday destination that it once was, but a visit to this amazing understated links will certainly lift your soul.
Very enjoyable, traditional, unassuming links golf in what seems to be standard conditions of burnt turf and howling wind. Exceptional value playing at 2 pm, Seacroft reminded us of Seaton Carew with touches of Westward Ho ! The in parts unfortunately desiccated ground definitely detracted from the aesthetic experience but the holes to and around the turn are brilliant, and all times the greens were tough to read but quick and true with never an oscillating ball or untrue roll. Would love to revisit after the course has benefited from some overdue benign weather.
Seacroft is a rugged true links, set back from the sea by a marsh, meaning no real sea views. When I played the fairways were extremely burnt out, but I don’t judge courses on their condition, and even if I did, this firmness made the course play extremely fun with crazy bounces.
Early on there were quite a few greens on plateaus, such as 2, 3 and 4, and throughout the course there are very well-placed fairway bunkers. There’s variety of narrowness and width from the tee, meaning sometimes iron is the play. Some of the bunkers are big, blow out style bunkers that wouldn’t look out of place at Royal St Georges or Barnbougle.
The par 4 7th is a great hole, with players having two options. If they play down the left side of the fairway then they have a clear view of the flag for their approach, but a tough angle into the green. Alternatively, players can drive up the right side of the fairway, meaning a blind approach, but a much better angle into the green.
There’s interesting contours throughout the set of greens, meaning knowing which side of the green to hit (or miss!) is key. The par 5 11th is another strong hole, with brilliant pot bunkers placed in the centreline of the fairway. I noticed several championship tees put way back, which could add even more bite to this links. For me this course has big vibes of being perhaps England’s version of Paraparaumu Beach.
Classic out and back course - played with the wind going out (lots of short irons and a reachable par 5), lots of long irons / fairway woods on the way back. Although Seacroft is universally categorised as a links course, much like Ashburnham in southern Wales, the sea is distant and the topography resembles both links and inland. Favourite hole is the par 4, 8th which hugs a road tight on the right with a spectacular large bunker / dune the aim point off the drive. Other excellent holes include the dog leg left to right par 4, 7th, the par 3, 10th which has a slightly raised and extraordinarily long green and the decent length par 4, finishing hole. Really enjoyed the course (the only negative was the poor condition of the fairways, which other reviewers have referenced).
"Be prepared for the wind," smirked one wag at our club as I explained that we were off to Skeggy the following day to make our debuts at Seacroft. This chap isn't renowned for understatement but this was Michael Fish proportions. The wind was so strong on our Sunday by the coast that as we putted out on one hole, all four of our golf trolleys were blown over. Twice Mrs W chased either hers or one belonging to our intrepid four down the fairway.
This was links golf at its most testing but, having survived a near-gale during the first nine we dipped our proverbial bread with it at our backs on the way home.
Seacroft is a challenger for the best value among England's top 100 courses. We benefited from a £30 twilight rate, teeing off at 3pm when there were still seven hours of light remaining. It has some very interesting holes, with the 8th, known as the Sandpit, requiring the most thought with a tee shot which draws over a public road before a blind chip over a huge bunker, or should I say dune. Many of the holes are blind which would have been fine but problems with fairway maintenance during the hot spell meant that the direction of travel wasn't easy to read. To be fair, we were warned n the professional's shop that the fairways were not at their best because of lack of course irrigation and it being open to the elements, This was as significant an understatement as the weather prediction. Frankly, it was difficult to distinguish fairway and rough on many holes. Fortunately, our round was neither spoiled by this nor the weather.
Seacroft may be challenging but does give golfers a chance - with splendidly true and receptive greens. We very much enjoyed our afternoon but I would like to play it again when the fairways are back to peak condition.
Seacroft is a fantastic out and back links course that really gets the most of the land. It has a few nothing holes, but these are cancelled out by some really great links holes. Holes 3, 7, 8, 10, 13, 15 and 16 are all brilliant holes, 7 and 8 being particularly unique with shots into blind greens.
If you're near Seacroft, you must visit, and you must also have the Mars Bar cheesecake in the clubhouse!
Seacroft, best described as a thorn between two roses! The two roses being infact Skegness!
I'd imagine it's the only top 100 golf course without a car park but this traditional golf club is a very interesting place. Placed on a very narrow strip of land walking straight through the gates under the arch into the club, it's easy to judge and think it's just a regular local club.
The club was friendly and we pretty much had the course to ourselves on a weekday in March. It's a very traditional links course with the 'car park' of sorts only at the other end of the course. (1.75 miles away)
Even in March, I thought the greens were in great condition, not incredibly fast but as you would expect them. The greens are really a great part of the course. Some good blind tee shots which aren't as scary as they look. Not many stand out holes to report of but some good par 5's which are definitely scoreable.
Overall on balance, I think it deserves a spot in the top 100, there are a few courses ranked lower I think deserve a spot above (like Sheringham) but I can see why it's included.
What a gem Seacroft is. One would not naturally think top quality golf at Skegbess but this is a delight. At the sourhern end of the town youll probably have the course to yourself as we did on a 3pm tee time.
Its an out and back of pure fun traditional links with blind shots, humps and borrows and some memorable fun holes.
You dont get to really see the sea, its some way off but this a top quality course and i would recommend you make the effirt. You can combine with North Shore which whilst not at this level is also a links/parkland course and can help make a weekend of it in Skegness
When we got back to the clubhouse there was noone else there but they had stayed open just for us. A real friendly club.
Absolutely loved this classic links course off the beaten track. Would 100% suggest people make the trip when staying in Woodhall to play the courses there
There is a great selection of holes here to test the every part of your game.
The course when we played it had clearly been struggling from a tough/dry summer in 2018 as the fairways were extremely patchy, however the greens and tees were fantastic
This place is a bargain. Well worth making the effort
Played Seacroft for the first time on a cold February day after a spell of very poor weather had closed the Nottinghamshire courses (Hollinwell and Sherwood Forest) that had been on my list. I thought a links might have stood up to the conditions rather better, and was proved right. In fact, I was astonished at how good the greens were, still hard and fast despite being battered for weeks.
Overall, was it worth the drive? I'd say yes, certainly. As other reviewers have mentioned, it's classic links golf in the traditional mould, with very tight fairways and plenty of blind or semi-blind shots. I wouldn't say it is anywhere near as good as Silloth, as is implied in the main article here, but it's no gimme and a lot of fun to play. The 7th 8th and 9th make a run of three highly entertaining holes, and the 7th in particular, played into the wind, wouldn't look out of place on courses of much greater renown.
Seacroft is a golf course for those who like their links golf pure and undiluted. It's a classic out-and-back course with just the right mix of rugged duneland and quirky, humpty-dumpty terrain. It creates a blend of unique links golf that is both testing and immensely enjoyable.
I'd been aware of Seacroft for some time but never ventured to the seaside town of Skegness to play it until 2014. After my first round I was left wondering why I had left it so long in my golfing career to sample this time-honoured links course and immediately promised myself I'd be back sooner rather than later to experience its charm and challenge once again. I have now returned several times and each time it impresses me more.
I had that same feeling once before after playing Silloth on Solway for the first time and I can't help draw comparisons between the two. Not necessarily in the style of the course, as they are both quite different, but in the sense that until fairly recently Silloth was relatively unknown to the mass golfing world. Now it is widely acclaimed as one of the finest links courses on the planet and as a result golfers flock to the remote part of Cumbria from afar. It was even awarded the English Amateur Championship in 2012 adding further to its status.
Seacroft has similar accessibility issues to Silloth and although not quite as far off the beaten track it's not the easiest, or rather the quickest place, to get to from major towns and cities across the UK. Nor does it have allies in other strong links courses nearby where players may stay and play a few courses in the area. That certainly shouldn't act as a deterrent for you to venture to the Lincolnshire coast though. It alone is well worthy of the trip.
I feel that by playing Seacroft I have been let in to a little secret. But it's a secret I'm not willing to keep. I'm confident that this is a ticking time bomb of a course and once the cat is out of the bag it will lead to it becoming a much more well-known and sought after destination. This won't occur overnight, and will require the main-stream national golf media to laud due praise on it, but I'm certain it will happen and I for one will be recommending people pay a visit.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.