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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.
Clyde Johnson (Cunnin' Golf Design) drew up a course masterplan for the club in the summer of 2018, mentioning in his report that “the previous thoughts of Alister MacKenzie, Tom Williamson and Ken Cotton have not gone unnoticed”. The club has since embarked on a course improvement program which involves widening fairways, expanding greens and upgrading bunkers.