Thorpeness Feature Review
Feature review by Golfshake ambassador Matt Holbrook who visited in Dec 2017
Set on the coast in the Far East of Suffolk Thorpeness Golf Club & Hotel boasts an impressive James Braid designed (1923) championship golf course along side it’s hotel and dining facilities.
With a large friendly membership as well as stay and play visitors this stunning heathland course was expertly sculptured around the existing heather and gorse to offer a stern but enjoyable test to golfers of all abilities.
The hotel has an excellent array of rooms available to cater for those looking to book golf breaks as well as 2 separate dining areas - Braid’s Bar and Ogilivie’s which has a superb view of the 3rd tee.
Pre Round Thoughts
We received an extremely warm welcome in the pro shop, which was well stocked with a mixture of branded and personalised golf accessories which I’m sure would go down very well with visitors.
That welcome was also matched in the hotel reception as we had popped in to make sure a table was available for some post round food. The staff were all very helpful and was even offered round to Braid’s bar too have a look.
As we had a quick putt on the practice green our attention was turned towards the 3rd tee opposite and the scene was set for a perfect round of golf - more about that soon!
Of all the 4 par 3’s the 7th really stood out - maybe partly due to the view of it as you come down the 6th fairway - but at a manageable 150 yards (178 from the white) accuracy is key and club selection even more so. The large lake sat between the tee and green makes for a daunting shot over into a well guarded long but narrow green, Bail out right and you are faced with a challenging chip back up the the green but over deep bunker that lay as protection.
I felt that the par 4’s were where the course really picks up its length. Even from the yellows 5 of the 12 are 400 yards or more but the combination of these and 3 holes all coming in under 320 there are some scoring opportunities available.
The 3rd is probably right up there with one of the best holes in Suffolk. The tee shot next to the window of Ogilvie’s might just be the biggest crowds you tee off in front of all year!
The fairway plays below the tee box and moves right to left but on a incline which is where the perfect shot will come to rest. Try and resist the temptation to go straight over the large bunker on the left of the sloping fairway as a 4 from there is highly unlikely. As you get to the top of the incline the view to the green - again below the fairway - is a delight with several pot bunkers to avoid should any approach shot come up short, Whilst it’s easy on the eye a 5 here is probably a good score,
The 6th requires more accuracy off the tee, again to a green that is well below to top of the fairway. The view of the 7th on the way down to the green is stunning and you will need to negotiate the severely sloped green of the 6th first,
The biggest test on the back 9 comes at 15 where the hole dog legs right to left at nearly 90 degrees. Position from the tee is critical to avoid going too long into some bunkers but making sure you are far enough up to even be able to see the green,
A tight approach - probably from in excess of 200 yards awaits into a undulating green guarded by 2 long bunkers either side.
You do get some respite on 17th - the shortest of the par 4’s - Big hitters will easily get to the green, however with the green being blind from the tee up the hill the 5 bunkers may well stop you from getting that elusive eagle putt!
A quick mention of the last with the old water tower in the background appears to float in the air as it has been converted into a small hotel.
Both par 5’s - The 9th and 14th are really enjoyable holes. Both play shorter than 485 yards so can really be attacked and turned into genuine scoring opportunities.
The fairway on the 9th is fairly blind off the tee but you are drawn into the temptation of going straight over the fairway bunker of the left to make the hole even shorter and if that is the option a birdie beckons,
The 14th requires 2 long straight shots until the green is visible as it dog legs to the left, big hitters may be able to cut the corner to get on in 2 but it will be blind but is risk and reward!
The condition of the course is excellent. The day previous to our visit (29th of December) had rained all day and the fact the only puddles we saw were on some of the footpaths is a testament to the work the green keepers put in. Whilst it is heathland which will soak up a lot of the rainfall the tees, fairway, greens were all in perfect condition for the time of year. The greens ran very well and true. During the summer months I’d expect the heather and gorse to grow up and out which may offer a tougher test as fairways will naturally feel more narrow but visitors with a higher handicap shouldn’t be put off by this.
We all ate in Braid’s bar following our round and it was so refreshing to visit a golf venue that doesn’t charge through the roof for a bar menu. The food was excellent and was enjoyed in a relaxed environment served by friendly knowledgeable staff.
Golf Club & Hotel Thorpeness is a top quality venue offering so much more than just a golf course. Quite often we can go and play a nice course. But this is an experience. From start to finish.
The combination of long, short, dog legs, blind shots and attackable holes really does set up for a round of golf that has everything a golf course can offer but club choice and decision making is so vital if you are looking to put a score together, if score is not so important and you want to open up and have as much fun as possible then you will also take so much away from a round here.
If you are looking for an affordable golf break in either summer or winter with a top quality course just a mile from the sea look no further than Thorpeness. I give you my word you won’t be disappointed, Can’t wait to go back again soon.
Highly rated 10 out of 10. For more information check out the Golfshake club page or visit: www.thorpeness.co.uk
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