Dunston Hall Feature Review
Post by Golfshake Ambassador Andrew Picknan
Dunston Hall, set in 150 acres of spectacular woodland four miles from Norwich city centre, is a beautiful Elizabethan style country home that is part of the prestigious Q Hotels group.
The golf course has recently benefitted from an extensive refurbishment programme by the owners. It is a parkland layout with a par of 71, measuring a more than playable 6,275 yards from the white tees.
Prior to playing, I would definitely recommend the use of a course planner or at least a viewing of the excellent 3D flyover of the course that is available via the website.
Before we started our round, my group found that the Bunkers Bar was the perfect spot for a light pre-round meal overlooking the final greens. We visited all the bars during our stay and each had an excellent atmosphere. (This was purely in the interest of research and accuracy of review!). With hindsight we should have made more time to use the well appointed and equipped driving range rather than having another delicious Bacon cob before our tee time.
The facility has an golf academy that benefits from an excellent floodlit driving range and practice putting green, all set in the beautiful and peaceful surroundings that help to make the venue special..
The opening hole is a tight one given that it is a 90-degree dogleg. The green is very well protected on all sides and is not a straightforward introduction to the course. The structure of the putting surface is reflective of those that will come throughout the round.
A clear feature of Dunston Hall's golf course is the size of its greens - most of them are pretty small, so you need to think long and hard about your approach shots. All of them are in excellent condition despite this being a very popular resort venue.
This is certainly not a “bombers” course. To play it well will require some accurate and strategic play. Not a personal strong point of mine, it has to be said, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the experience of playing. To emphasise the importance of not making mistakes, eleven of the 18 holes have water hazards, placing a premium on accuracy.
Director of golf, Tom Turner is a knowledgeable and accomplished golfer in his own right, and with his guidance the course is being improved and made more enjoyable for visiting players.
I was impressed by the programme to reduce the length of rough around the extensive trees on the course. I agree with Tom that these themselves pose enough of a hazard without making the finding of golf balls an onerous or near impossible task due to height of the rough. This also helps considerably with pace of play. He has additionally engaged in a process of ditch clearing making the hazards better defined, which will only benefit the course going forward.
The fourth and fifth holes stood out to me. The work done to improve drainage in this area of the course is now seeing real dividends. The latter is only 323 yards, but care must be taken not to drive long and left, as the green is well protected by a deep, sleeper bunker.
The eighth is another birdie chance at 270 yards if you can clear the fairway bunkers, but there is out of bounds just 10 yards beyond the green. OOB patrols the right side of this hole for its length adding more intimidation from the tee box.
From a personal stand point, I much preferred the back nine. The holes seemed better defined and all hazards were easily seen whenever playing a shot. This wasn’t the case with some of the holes in the first nine. There are also some clever visual deceptions from the tee boxes using tight, tree lined avenues to funnel the golfers view of the hole.
None of the par three holes on are easy and all pose interesting challenges. The ninth at 212 yards off the back tees and OOB the full length of the hole is a test. There aren't any bunkers but some great swales and hollows offer substantial hazards to wayward shots. These were the main highlights of my round at Dunston Hall.
Accommodation and Food
The manor house was originally constructed in 1859, but it has now been refurbished to create an award-winning four-star hotel.
Driving towards the venue, approach to the hotel is through an impressive sweeping tree-lined driveway, leading to the original Hall with its magnificent chimneys.
It benefits from 169 spacious twin and double bedrooms, including deluxe rooms and sumptuous four poster suites. That aforementioned refurbishment has led to many of the rooms being upgraded.
Baosting extensive leisure facilities including indoor swimming pool, sauna, whirlpool and gym, beauty treatments are also available in the Lilac Room Spa.
In terms of food, there is a great choice of stylish restaurants offering a range of dining experiences. The award-winning La Fontaine Restaurant has a mouth-watering menu of both British and modern European cuisine. I thoroughly recommend the food offered and the breakfast was superb.
In the hotel there are 11 separate function rooms offering unique spaces for meetings, events and celebrations. On inspecting these rooms I immediately concluded that they would be ideal for the visiting golf society group to have a private environment to eat and drink after a game.
Dunston Hall has previously featured as part of a Golfshake story highlighting it as one of the top ten courses in Norfolk to play.
I really enjoyed my visit and would welcome the chance to play it again with the benefit of a better knowledge of the layout.
The food and accommodation were superb and this facility is likely to develop further as the investment in the infrastructure is finished. We met some friendly, knowledgeable and attentive staff who added to the excellent overall experience.
A two-night Dinner, Bed and Breakfast breaks at Dunston Hall – with two rounds of golf – starts from just £159pp. I think that represents excellent value given the quality of the overall package. This is an ideal location and base for both golf and other leisure pursuits in a renowned tourist destination.
We also travelled a short distance to enjoy the superb “members” facility at Eaton Golf Club. This J H Taylor designed venue was presented beautifully and was a real pleasure. On our arrival the club house was buzzing, not a surprise given the quality of food and service provided by the long term stewards.
It was in a fantastic condition and is a superb layout in all respects. If you are in the area ensure you make the enquiry and try and book a tee time. I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed. It is an absolute gem.
Coming to Visit?
Abellio Greater Anglia have advance fares from £9 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Abellio also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.
Flights into Norwich are served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.