Heacham Manor Stay Play Review

By: Robert Treanor | Mon 26 Oct 2020 | Comments


Heacham Manor on the Norfolk Coast has quietly established itself as a golfing haven since its inception ten years ago. The family owned venue has continued to make significant investments to the golf course, accommodation and an incredible new clubhouse facility which looks set to rocket the club to national acclaim. Golfshake dispatched Ambassador Rob Treanor to get an early look at the new setup and what it offers for visiting golfers.

The impressive entrance which opens into the Heacham Manor estate is the start of a pretty path, leading past a duck pond to the historic manor house. Now converted into a country house style hotel, additional facilities including an award-winning restaurant, a spa and an excellent 18-hole championship golf course.

Golf

This is a venue which takes golf very seriously. It is no surprise to learn that the passionate family owners of the resort take a keen interest in developing the course architecture alongside well-respected external advisors and architects. The links style course is situated within a stone’s throw of the North Sea and is punctuated by two lakes and a series of brooks and creeks which add challenge to the round.

The course is enjoyable, varied and fun to play. As expected at a links layout, all the usual suspects are present. Gorse rough, fescue greens and open vistas which often result in windy conditions as an additional hazard to do battle with. The tee boxes are cleverly positioned, requiring golfers to use angles and shot shaping to manoeuvre around hazards and find the best position. The mounding which adds texture to the fairways on what is predominantly a flat expanse of land, creates visual and shot making interest.

The stunning par three 5th hole is characterised by a small creek which meanders from the tee box to the green. Reminiscent of the burns which populate the great Scottish links courses, the creek will only trouble poor tee shots on this gorgeous 161 yard short hole.

Another memorable moment awaits on the 7th which is an equally picturesque par three. The intimidating tee shot is played over an expansive lake to a wide green. Whilst it is not a long approach to carry the water, the hole packs a punch for the amount of excitement and anticipation it delivers, as players wait in suspense to find out if they have struck the ball well enough to carry the hazard.

Further course upgrades are about to begin with a bunker renovation programme which will actually see the number of hazards on the course reduce by about a third. The aim is to increase playability and enjoyment of the course by making sure hazards are sited in the right areas of the course to suit the modern game. Existing bunkers will be reshaped, adjusted and generally enhanced to improve visual appeal and challenge.

The 18th finishes the round off in style with a risk reward challenge from the tee box. A creek splits the fairway a third of the way to the green and with a tail wind, it is possible to carry the water which will significantly shorten the hole. After clearing the creek, the fairway turns left and tightens on the approach to the green. Mounding frames the right hand side of the hole with the creek for company all the way down the left hand side. A hole which can really make or break a round, it will transform into a true stadium finish with the new clubhouse and first floor terrace bar. More on that later…

Accommodation

The Manor House has 13 boutique rooms which are furnished in a traditional style. These spacious, classically elegant spaces hold appeal to upmarket or perhaps non-golfing guests. A further 32 contemporary cottage rooms are situated adjacent to the historic hotel building. These flexible spaces can be interconnected which make them ideal for groups of travelling golfers, or families who can share the adjoining living space.

During our visit, COVID adaptations were in place meaning rooms were “fogged” before being sealed ready for guest arrival to ensure decontamination. Masks were worn throughout common areas in the hotel and meals were pre-booked and served seated. Coupled with the excellent explanatory video on the Heacham Manor website, the venue felt very safe and well adapted to the situation.

Food & Drink

The Mulberry restaurant takes it’s name from the American Mulberry tree which sits in the hotel grounds and is rumoured to have be planted by Pocahontas. Whatever the history, the contemporary AA rosette kitchen today serves sophisticated and elegant meals befitting of the country house setting. The conservatory windows to the rear of the restaurant command beautiful views over the course and beyond which offer a spectacular view of the evening sunset.   

As is typical at establishments where food is taken seriously, there was an array of local ingredients visible on the menu as well as a significant vegetarian offering. The three course dinner was absolutely outstanding. Fine dining without the fuss, excellent ingredients were cooked to perfection and served with the backdrop of a beautiful Norfolk sunset. The restaurant is busy with both hotel and external guests so be sure to book ahead for lunch and dinner.

Facilities

The hotel has a small boutique spa which has a collection of treatment rooms, sauna, steam room, amazon rain shower and a hot tub. Due to the COVID restrictions in place during our visit this area was temporarily closed.

The venue also has access to tennis courts, a swimming pool, nine hole golf course and fishing lakes via its neighbouring sister resort. In high season there is regular entertainment which is ideal for families and children to enjoy. These facilities are open to hotel guests to use and are a short walk from the hotel on the route to the beach.

Other Activities

The location in Norfolk sees Heacham saddle with some well-known and revered golf courses including Hunstanton, Kings Lynn and Sheringham. Heacham Manor is unique in this group as the only venue to have accommodation, which is ideal as a base camp to explore other venues. The club offers tours to play a mixture of these clubs as part of a single trip which are very good value.

Away from golf, Norfolk is a treasure trove for outdoor activities. Plentiful beaches, historic buildings, country walks and cosy pubs have made this a popular tourist destination for centuries. With a reputation as the driest and sunniest part of the country, it is a great location for a break in any season.

Club Future Developments

The significant new clubhouse facility being built adjacent to the 18th green is due to open in winter 2020. As well as creating a spectacular, grandstand finish to the round, the construction work extends to include function rooms, seven new bedrooms, locker rooms, pro shop and an informal sports bar with screens for live events which will be balanced with a smart tapas and cocktails bar. Walled gardens to the rear will provide private space for events and a large putting green to the front complete the outside space. The real showpiece is the breathtaking first floor terrace which will be available for both food and drink. This expansive area commands unbroken views over the golf course, extending as far as the dramatic Norfolk Coastline in the distance.

When it is finished, this facility will amplify the experience at Heacham Manor even further. The grandstand setting will create a truly memorable finish to any round, with the final handful (hopefully) of shots played in front of well-wishers from the glorious terrace gallery. Alongside the enhancements which are planned for the course, this impressive set of new facilities will propel the club to National acclaim.

Summary

We came expecting to find a tranquil and picturesque seaside course with a historic country house hotel. What we found was a venue on the verge of elevating its status to higher echelons of the game in the UK and with aspirations to hold major events.

Don’t be surprised if the significant but well-planned investment yields professional level events sooner rather than later. Don’t be surprised to find us returning to enjoy the fine food and great golf sooner rather than later…


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