TGC situated next to Thetford Forest is a forest/woodland course. The website states heathland, and whilst there are aspects of heathland with bracken and heather, notably the par 3 16th hole, the bulk of the course is played through tall, thick stands of pine trees which flank and define each hole.
The course is very well routed through the pines. With the sun shining casting shadows across the fairways, it's a photographers dream. Visually on the eye each hole was a delight, yet at the end of the round, most of them blurred into each other, mainly because a lot of the hole templates felt similar - sweeping right to left (2,7,10,12,14,15) or left to right holes (6,8,13,17,18), framed by pines. This isn't a negative, as each hole was a delight, but for me, standout courses at the higher end of the rankings leave you years later remembering individual holes and Thetford didn't really do that even after finishing my round.
The 1st hole that grabbed my attention was the 3rd, a medium length par 3 'across the road' and the view off the 4th tee was superb - looking over heather through a narrow avenue of trees.
The par 3's were all strong. I'm not a fan of par 3's starts, especially after rushing onto the tee to beat a society heading out! I have a 'go to'1st tee driver swing, but have usually loosened up enough after a few holes before hitting my 1st par 3! It is however a good looking hole, playing down through a narrow opening in the trees to a green protected by bunkers to the front. After 2 par 3's in the 1st 3 holes, the next isn't until the 11th, the longest of the 4 on the course, and the last one at hole 16 - perhaps the pick of the 4. At 152 yards, the carry is all heather, then a large bunker that acts as a moat to the front and sides of the green, which is set in a bowl so you cannot see the putting surface off the tee.
The course felt a little disconnected early on with you having to cross the very busy A47 to play holes 3-5 and then initially when back on the clubhouse side of the road, hole 6 is still close to the road and the passing traffic and accompanying noise. However as you start to move inland into the forest, you are left in perfect isolation, peace and quiet, a course at one with nature.
My pick of the stretch 7 - 13 was the 8th and 10th. The 8th plays downhill sweeping right to left and gently bends left to right. A good drive past the fairway bunkers leaves a mid iron into a green protected by bunkers front right and left. And then the 10th, as you start the back nine is a vast par 5, mature pine tree lined hole. By vast I mean wide open fairway, and this is a trend throughout the course. The fairways are generous, and even the rough at this time of year not penal. One would need to stray quite a lot off line to end up in the trees.
The 14th and 15th are good holes, the 1st playing downhill and the 2nd, playing slightly back uphill.
The back 9 is longer but helped by 3 par 5's, the 10th as mentioned above being the pick. The 13th and 17th are not long - the par 4 18th, at 475 yards long, is only 25 yards shorter than the par 5 17th, leaving a tough finishing hole. It sweeps downhill which helps your drive distance but then you hit up to the green located outside the clubhouse.
At 6680 yards off the yellows and 6851 yards off the whites, it's not a short course but the springy turf does help shorten each hole slightly. The fairways were patchy but this is traditional sandy turf and with no fairway sprinklers, it is reliant on rain to water the course. The greens however were in excellent condition and ran true, although not overly quick.
Overall this is a course worth playing if you are in the area, add it into the mix of Links courses you may play; the welcome was friendly, the green fee good and the Club Sandwich for dinner superb. Add a dozen found Taylormade golf balls for £10 to help the Captains charity and a very enjoyable afternoon out was add.
Date: August 06, 2021