Hunstanton Golf Club Feature Review

By: Golfshake Editor | Mon 30 Sep 2019 | Comments


Review by Kevin Heggie, September 2019


Hunstanton is located just north of the main town in Norfolk and opened in 1891 as a 9-hole course, before it was updated in 1907 by James Braid to turn into a classic out and back design. Within the clubhouse you can see this layout, and while tweaks have been made with regards to bunkering, and more recently the 18th hole, it remains close to this design. Whilst it hasn’t been reviewed in volume by the Golfshake Community, reading the comments available certainly whetted our appetite as a ‘must play’ course, and we had the added bonus of a change in the weather forecast when we played - when we left the house at 7am we expected rain all day, and on arrival we had beautiful blue skies and a gentle breeze (by links standards).

Prior to teeing off, there’s a good range of practice facilities available to fine tune your game in terms of chipping, iron and putting, and a well-stocked pro shop to pick up any essentials for the round.

Front 9 Highlights

The round starts relatively gently, with a short par 4 easing you into the experience (whilst providing you with the view (above) of the bunkering you will expect throughout the round) followed by a relatively sedate par 5. Next up are a couple of longish par 4s with a short but tricky par 3 breaking them up, before you get to the highlight of the front 9, starting with the short par 4 6th. At a mere 300 yards, on paper it appears a great opportunity to score, but from the tee it’s a different prospect. Bunkers galore are dotted from 150 all the way up to the long green, which is plateaued on high with big drop offs front, left and right. I fell at the first hurdle, with my tee shot finding at deep bunker where i could only advance the ball 30 yards, whilst my playing partner missed right. Bogeys followed, along with discussions as to how we’d play it differently if we got the chance. 

Up next is one of two outstanding short par 3s at Hunstanton. Staring at you from the tee box is a cavernous bunker (highlighted by Golfshake as one of the most fearsome bunkers in the UK), with the hole being framed by undulating dunes left and right. Long and right is also problematic, so choosing the right club is essential if you hope to hit the relatively small green and walk off without too much damage to your card.

Following an enjoyable dog-leg right par 5, you then turn back towards the clubhouse to play another, aiming you tee shot at the lighthouse on the horizon, to play a beautifully designed hole, flanked again by a large dune running along the left hand side of the hole and protected with bunkers and a tiered green.

Back 9 Highlights

The 10th takes you out to about the further part of the course, and is the only hole on the course with noticeable water in play, from there you head back towards the clubhouse in a zigzag pattern for the next few, enjoyable holes - not long, but still tricky due to blind tee shots and the need to effectively judge the elevation changes from fairway to green. After a long, blind par 3 (and oscillation of the flagpole for the group behind which was a novel experience) you get into the highly enjoyable finishing stretch.

The 15th is a short par 5, but the design and prevailing winds will present most golfers with a great challenge.  The bunkering around the small landing zone 200-220 yards from the tee will catch out wayward tee shots (including mine) which then will make par a challenge but navigate those and you’ll have a good chance at birdie.

The next hole is the other great par 3 on the course. Not long, and slightly downhill, its main claim to fame is that in 1974 Bob Taylor from Leicestershire hit holes in one on three consecutive days! Unfortunately, that wasn’t the outcome for us, and my playing partner ended up in one of the seven bunkers surrounding the green whilst I tugged my tee shot left, making par difficult for both of us on an undulating, multi-tiered green.

The 17th is a strong par 4s, measuring at 430 from the yellows but playing longer due to the wind direction. Despite hitting a relatively decent drive, I was left with around 200 yards into a wafer-thin green, protected by ugly rough on the left, and a massive drop off on the right. As a mid-handicapper, it’s the type of hole that even given 10 chances to get home in regulation, I think my success rate would be (unfortunately) extremely low.

The 18th again plays longer that the yardage due to the wind and is well protected by good bunkering and a raised green, with added pressure from the watching galleries on the patio outside the clubhouse.

Verdict

Hunstanton ticks almost every box in my eyes from a links perspective - each hole requires thought as to whether you should plot or bomb your path to the green, and the condition of the course was great - greens ran smooth and at a decent pace, fairways were well maintained, and bunkers plentiful and penalising. This adds up to a really fun course to play - high handicappers will be able to score well, but good players would still find it a challenge.

In terms of value for money, green fees are largely on par with other links courses of this standard around the UK, so fairly priced. Pace of play is brisk as it’s predominately a two-ball course, although four-balls are allowed Sunday afternoons and Tuesdays, and we were pleasantly surprised how flexible the pro shop could be in accommodating us at relatively short notice for a Sunday morning.

Inside the clubhouse you’ll find modern, clean changing rooms which we used to freshen up, before heading to the bar area which has a good range of options with regards to food and drink at reasonable prices, and a nice terrace to sit out on to tot up your scores, enjoy the views out over the wash, and watch other groups come down the 18th. Despite being a relatively traditional club, they’ve invested in creating great an online shop window via their website, and also have a presence on Twitter and Instagram.

Overall, I’ll be recommending Hunstanton to anyone looking for a great links experience and would also suggest tagging on an overnight stay to allow you to play other courses in the area. We stayed at the Glenberis B&B in Hunstanton, where the owner, Paul, is also a member at Hunstanton. From here, you can then consider other links courses in the area - Heacham Manor, Royal West Norfolk, and slightly further afield Sherringham and Royal Cromer.

Overall Rating - 8

Course (Conditions) - 8

Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 8

Course (Green Condition) - 9

Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8

Club facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 8

Practice Facilities - 8

Friendliness/Hospitality - 9

Pace of Play - 9

Value for Money - 8


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