Thetford Golf Club was founded in 1912 and Charles H. Mayo designed the original 6,000-yard course. James Braid made later changes to the layout and further updates were subsequently implemented by Philip Mackenzie Ross.
“Thetford is situated in the Brecklands, an area of sandy soil, and was once far more heathland in type and more abounding with rabbits than it is today.” Wrote Peter Alliss in The Good Golf Guide. It has large areas of heather, gorse and broom but belts of trees – birch oak and pine – now separate one hole from another and have become strategic features governing the right line for the tee shot on many holes.”
According to the club history: “The course was constructed on an open sandy heath known as Thetford Warren, which as the name suggests, was land used to breed rabbits for their fur and meat. After the First World War the Forestry Commission planted extensive pine trees on the surrounding land now know as Thetford Forest. At the time it was the largest man made forest in the country. From being a heathland course it has gradually become a forest course.”
The construction of a new Thetford bypass resulted in significant changes to the course. Five original holes were lost and five new longer holes were fashioned by Cameron Sinclair and Donald Steel. Today’s layout stretches to more than 6,800 yards from the tips.
“You begin with the challenge of quite a long par three,” continues Peter Alliss, “over a valley to a terraced green. Heather is a feature here, and at many later holes. The 5th is a particularly good par four, with a tee shot played over a wide valley with tree, bunkers and an old chalk pit very much in play. The undulating green is just over the brow of a hill, and falls away to the left.”
Thetford is not as well known as some other East Anglia courses located on the North Sea coast, but it should not be missed if planning a golfing trip to this quiet corner of rural England.