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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.
I’d never planned on visiting Skegness. When it's described to me as a smaller yet worse version of Blackpool, it’s not going to end up high on my bucket list. Skegness was also recently voted as the worst seaside town in the UK. But all of this knowledge was presented to me before I realised where Seacroft Golf Club was. And being the links aficionado that I am, a day trip to glamorous Skeggy it had to be.
Seacroft isn’t a refined links meaning the course is a little scruffier than most. I dare say that the budget on course maintenance is fairly limited. But Seacroft is still a good course that trundles over some rolling duneland with a central spine being the main feature. The club are also spending money on some bunker upgrades, generally a mixture of revetted and naturalised bunkers. Albeit it’s the local greenkeeping team making most of the practical changes on site as opposed to a dedicated shaper, and that does show itself a little in one or two of their finished products.
The course routing is a very traditional out-and-back layout with only one hole on each nine bucking the directional trend. There’s also a road that runs parallel to the majority of the front nine which to the most part, should only punish the most errant of shots. That’s until the 8th, which is unlike any hole I’ve played and this is where the road comes right into view. The 8th has the narrowest of fairways that banks towards the out of bounds, and don’t think that bailing out to the left is an easy option as the most tremendous of blow-out bunkers sits yawning within the dune down that side. Otherwise, I found some of the front nine holes a little awkwardly shaped. Whilst the tucked green-site at 7 makes for an interesting approach shot, the 9th green, hidden by a tall dune and followed thereafter by a hundred yards of flat land is a little lacklustre. These holes are preceded by several elevated greens through the opening few holes, with the 2nd and short 4th both having interesting green formations.
After the lovely par three 10th that comes decorated with some devilish run-offs on each side of the green is a real strong test of long back-to-back holes at 11 and 12. It’s after this point where Seacroft displays the best of itself as some clever yet quirky holes come into play, such as the particularly funky par five 13th that got the better of me as you hit blind over a dune for the second shot before doglegging right. A couple of valley fairways close out the round and there’s a tremendously shaped green at 16. The round culminates with a bizarre tee shot on 18 where our tee for the day was tucked against the boundary-line meaning a strong fade around the copse of trees was required providing a slightly awkward finish.
Overall, Seacroft presented something of a mixed bag for me, but notwithstanding that, there’s plenty of opportunity to be creative like you’d expect of any good links and it’s extremely good value for money. I’d strongly suggest tying Seacroft in with a trip to nearby Woodhall Spa if you’re going to make the effort to travel to Lincolnshire for either course. And don't forget that you can always conclude your day by sampling the fried food delights of Skeggy as you pass back through that extraordinary place on your journey home.
TP Dean, your reviews continue to inspire (on this occasion giving us another reason to visit Skegness; Seacroft was already penciled in for our Incovidenienced Woodhall Spa trip, but we didn’t realize it was also a mini-Blackpool)!
What did you think of the “wet grass” as mentioned in Phil’s review below - 100% true links or something slightly different?
BB, if my words have made you keen to visit Skegness, then buckle up tight my friend.
As for the wet grass, I wouldn’t say it was something that was massively detrimental to the land, but it is noticeable in certain areas of the course where the course does indeed get wet. There is a high water table across parts of the course which is what Phil may be referencing. But it still played pretty linksy when I was there. Hope you can get out there in the not too distant future.
Great photos Tom! Nice review as well. I agree it's tough to recommend a long weekend with nights out on the town in Skegness. Had the pleasure of staying the night there years ago with a group and heading out to dinner and drinks. Never forget that and it might go down as one of the worst places I've ever stayed. I did enjoy the course so like you could easily recommend it, love the hole you photographed with road that begs you to take on the OB for the best angle into that green. That's a classic quirky hole and for me the highlight of the round there but it might even make it worth the trip. We combined it with Brancaster and Woodhall Spa, wish I would of hit Hunstanton as well. Not sure if that logistically really makes sense as a mix, but such are my trips.
This is a seaside course but doesn’t play as a links. There is a sign on the 11th that explains the property has a rare “wet grass” which means it plays more like a parkland. As such, playing in the perennial wind you cannot run low shots into greens, especially as this grass feels coarse and sticky. The fairways were in terrible condition too, creating some genuinely bad bounces and lies.
The greens though, were decent. You have lots of links-looking shots with dunes, blind shots and elevated greens. On the front side played into the prevailing wind, number 8 was the highlight (pictured) where you have to hug the road and OOB for the best approach angle.
The 10th is the pick of the par 3s, being short but trouble-laden. There is relief in turning and going downwind, but it doesn’t play much easier. 16 is a short par 4, with a crazy hollow in one side of the green that can be both evil and fun.
So I was left quite underwhelmed, mainly because of the grass type and conditioning. You just can’t play run-up shots. It has some dramatic holes but I wouldn’t put it in England’s top 100, and maybe not a top 150.
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