Sheringham Golf Club is located high on the clifftops on an undulating thin sliver of land, which is wedged between the North Sea cliff edge and the North Norfolk Railway. Steam trains and vintage diesels occasionally rattle past the course, which is set within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The club was originally founded in 1891 and Tom Dunn laid down nine holes, returning in 1898 to extend the course to its present 18 holes.
“At Sheringham we shall be called upon to do only a moderate amount of climbing and some of the very stoutest hitting with the brassey that there has ever been required of us.” Wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles: “The theory of the good length hole has been carried almost to its ultimate limit.” The course measures 6,546 yards from the back tees, factor in the North Sea winds and you’ve got a serious test of golf. It’s almost unimaginable how difficult this course must have been in the days of the hickory shaft and the gutty ball.
The best holes are undoubtedly those that run close to the edge of the cliffs. The 6th “is a very attractive hole,” wrote Darwin, “with the most glorious tee-shot from a high hill, a fine view of the sea, and a fascinating approach shot at the end.” Around the turn, the gorse and the railway line becomes the most significant hazards, which wait with patience to catch anything struck offline.
The English Ladies Close Amateur Championship has been played at Sheringham on three occasions, most recently in 1991, when Karen Stupples narrowly lost to Nicola Buxton. But in the 1920 event, the mighty Cecil Leitch was expected to win, but Joyce Wethered had different ideas. “It was by the way,” wrote Darwin in Golf Between Two Wars, “near the seventeenth green that there first appeared the traditional railway train which puffed and snorted loudly as Miss Wethered putted out and of which she was so entirely unaware, that, on being congratulated on her imperturbability, she is alleged to have asked, ‘What train?’”
Play Sheringham alongside its near neighbour, Royal Cromer, and you’ll have played two of England's finest cliff-top courses.
The third leg of our trip brought us to Sheringham GC. What a delight this course is – a mix of cliff-top and links with some stunning views and holes. We can’t recommend this course enough.
We suspect it’s rated below Hunstanton due to a little golf snobbery – in that it is fairly generous off the tee for the most part, is not true links and is comparatively a tad shorter, but in our view this only adds to its playability. Surely an eminently playable course with stunning scenery is what the average golfer prefers ?! The course has numerous raised tees which always add to the experience and a super mix of holes, notably including 5th, 6th and 10th, all played from raised tees with coastal views-a-plenty. There’s also the local steam train bordering the other side of the course, all adding to the occasion. Similar to our experience at Hunstanton, due to the mini heatwave the course was very firm but the greens again were true and in terrific condition.
We’d highly recommend this course – if you’re thinking of visiting the area then it really should be on your itinerary. If you like your golf challengingly fair with scenery aplenty, then this is a must visit. We paid £60 to pre-book our tee times and were also permitted to play in our preferred 3-ball format, which is sometimes frowned upon at other renowned courses. All-in-all, a terrific venue for a round of golf – and be sure not to forget your camera/phone !
Without doubt my favourite course in the uk. I can't claim to have played too many top courses but this is the best I've played. A gentle start for three holes before you are rewarded with some magnificent holes and beautiful views. The greens are tricky but fair and always in good nick. Sheringham has some illustrious neighbours but more than holds it own. If you plan to come to Norfolk to play golf I urge anyone to put this at the top of the list
Firstly, I have to point out that Sheringham is not a links. I’m struggling to understand why a number of reviewers are insisting that it is. The turf doesn’t compress like links turf, the grasses are wrong, it doesn’t drain like links turf, there are no dunes and the course supports more of an aerial strategy than the ground game. A beautiful clifftop moorland course it may well be, but not a links.
What Sheringham most definitely is, is the epitome of holiday golf. I don’t mean this in a patronising, disrespectful way, but a form of praise. You have the delightful North Sea view along the top of the cliff and on many of the holes, in particular on the back 9, you can just swing away with your driver. I can imagine that it’s a wonderful spot on a beautiful Summer’s day; the sound of the waves on the sea, the sun on your back and beautiful views with the steam train chugging away alongside the length of the course. I also loved the ragged edge of the cliff that provides a feature view along much of the course.
The fact that you can swing away on the tee to your heart’s content is a minor criticism as I’d prefer more challenge and strategy required. Only a handful of holes have truly great design that make you think, otherwise just grab your driver and open your shoulders.
The highlights include the 5th which is a gorgeous hole along the cliff top and is one of those holes that doesn’t support the “bomb away with the driver” strategy. A tight drive between bunkers greets you as you land your ball on a fairway where the land leans away from the cliff edge for the length of the hole. You’re also faced with a severe drop to the left of the green and it takes a brave golfer to aim to the right to allow for the natural draw you’re likely to face because of the ball position above your feet. 6 and 7 also play along the sea front and are lovely holes, but maybe haven’t achieved their full potential because the public footpath along the cliff edge denies the course from locating a green tight to the cliff. Whilst those holes along the sea are probably the best run of holes, the 17th called “What Train?” was my personal pick from the whole course. The green is perched up above the fairway on a plateau, set into a hill with diagonally positioned cross bunkering. Gorse also lines the left hand side of the hole and there’s the railway to the right with a group of firs providing the backdrop to the hole. It's one of the best holes in Norfolk and the penultimate hole in a very enjoyable round of golf.
The setting is one of the most dramatic, animated and pretty that I have ever played. Don't be fooled by the picturesque landscape though because this course does have teeth and will bite if you don't show it respect.
It has been debated previously if Sheringham can be classed as a 'true' links golf course. Both Donald Steel and Tom Doak refer to it as more of a 'downland' course. It is indeed played over the glacial clifftops of this seaside town and if wandering through large sand dunes is a prerequisite of yours for links golf then you'll find none here. But for me Sheringham plays every inch a top links course... and then some.
It is laid out on exposed land between the cliff edge and the North Norfolk Railway line. The crash and bash of the North Sea waves pounding the rocks below is ever-present during your round and passing trains (often a steam train evoking memories from a bygone age) is a regular occurrence on the inland side. The turf is good and there are lots of natural undulations in the ground. There are also large areas of gorse that frame many of the holes, none more impressive than a huge bank of bright yellow behind the 11th and 17th greens.
I originally enjoyed the course on a gloomy, murky day when the encroaching sea-haar reduced visibility to less than 100 yards. As a result I didn't get to see some of the early holes in all their glory but even without perfect vision I was still able to ascertain they were solid holes. The mist cleared towards the end of the front-nine revealing the full and beautiful expanse of the course. On subsequent rounds the course has always been displayed in all its stunning beauty.
Sheringham is a course that will be enjoyed by all abilities (I hate that phrase but it is so true here). There are only a few forced carries and the course offers plenty of width. The greens are good and have gradual undulations providing a good test but they are not too fierce to be frightening.
The early stretch of clifftop holes are renowned (and rightly so) and the closing holes along the railway line are also often praised (again rightly so) but one shouldn't underestimate the middle part of the course either as it is here where some really good holes can be found.
Playing Sheringham on my first ever visit in such murky conditions was quite an eerie yet at the same time brilliant experience. Subsequent rounds have simply reaffirmed my appreciation of the layout.
The course has a perfect mix of holes, is usually conditioned to the highest standard and in my mind is unequivocally 100% true links.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
I'm an admirer of Sheringham but it’s not a links course in my book. It may play like one, but to my eyes it doesn’t look like one.
We left it out of our collection of the 240 "Real Links" courses of Britain & Ireland because we considered it to be a clifftop downland course that’s laid out on chalk not sand. Tom Doak and Donald Steel are not the only commentators to agree with its downland classification. Bernard Darwin reckons: “It is pretty sure to be blowing one way or the other, for the course is a downland course on the top of a cliff.” Peter Alliss concurs: “Sheringham is a downland course set on the cliffs and with a lot of gorse.”
Certainly categorising links courses is complicated but we attempted to explain here the Geology and Geography.
Sheringham really is a great course and well worth a visit. I have played it a couple of times, most recently in May and is always presented in excellent condition. Lovely fairways and really good greens. The cliff top holes are majestic and walking from the 4th green to the 5th tee is always very exciting. Turning for home and seeing the steam train puffing away, sets you up for a real test of your nerve with the Driver over the closing three holes - especially if the wind is blowing off the sea! Great clubhouse, superb food and very welcoming staff make for a great days golf.
The 5th hole and view from the tee is nothing short of spectacular. This par four is 456 yards in length and is index 1. Fortunately, it is downhill but there are bunkers on both sides for the drive and then the fairway narrows and the green appears to have nothing to prevent anything other than a prefect long second shot from tumbling down steep banks on the left side and at the back.
The 17th is the furthest from the sea cliffs and has a railway line and out of bounds all along the right. A steam train still uses the line. The green is in a lovely setting on the side of a hill with a little woodland behind and above it. Eighteen is an excellent finishing hole of 420 yards. The approach to the green is downhill but there are several large and deep bunkers for any shot misdirected.
As clifftop links courses go, Sheringham is pretty good. The greens are excellent and the fairways firm and fast. It is quite hilly in parts, but on the day I was there most of the golfers were middle-aged or older and it did not seem to worry them.
This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every English course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
Whilst noted that this reviewer has a breadth of experience that few can match, 3 balls for Sheringham feels a bit harsh.
Sometimes I think the difference between ball ratings here can be more logarithmic (think Richter Scale) than linear, which allows for a little flexibility in valuing the courses
I’d put Sheringham between a 4 and a 5 ball (which still allows for a genuine 6 ball course to be significantly better)!
The day we visited the course, there were no course planners available, (not sure if this is usually the case) so our method of play was delightfully old school, relying on perception and feel, along with that most modern of innovations: 150 yard markers. This is not a moan, but recognition of how joyful golf can be when simplified to its basics.
I noticed that Sheringham is considered a links course by some due to its inclusion in the coffee table book “True Links” and you can argue the case either way. I consider Sheringham most similar to Crail (Craighead) in Fife or the Glen in East Lothian, though without the drama of its par 3 13th.
The views here are stunning: whether out to sea with shipping and wind turbines, inland to the passing steam train and rolling countryside or all around the course with bright, golden bunkers and gorse framing many fairways and green complexes. If you make away day golf trips for the scenery, Sheringham will not disappoint. If golfing challenge attracts you then this course with some breeze should offer a good test.
There are many undulations throughout: holes 5 and 6 both have severe drops from tee to green, with few flat holes, but the walk is never too tiring. Good use is made of the terrain with natural looking green sites such as 1, 4 and 17 built around the same hill. For the first-time visitor, the design is not too intimidating with only three real blind shots – the drive on the 18th and the second shots on the 7th and 16th. Opening the shoulders is not a problem either, as the layout offers many routes to the greens. The greens were true if a little pedestrian in pace during April, although this may be to prevent balls oscillating on the exposed putting surfaces as at Isle of Purbeck.
The minor complaints/observations I would have about the course would be the rather basic 3rd hole, which relies on length uphill for its defence, and the conditioning of the second hole in the latter half of April 2012. There was little definition between rough and fairway, so missing the fairway was no real penalty. However, this was out of keeping with the rest of the course. All in all, an enjoyable day of golf.