Gorleston Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook
Set just a few miles south of the popular seaside resort of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, Gorleston Golf Club boasts the uniqueness of being the golf club set most easterly in the UK.
The course itself has sat atop of the cliffs overlooking the North Sea since 1913, however, the club does date back to 1906 with an original 9-hole course just to the north of the current location.
The club, now owned by the members, had the foresight to purchase some additional land back in the mid 70s to future proof the course against potential erosion along the cliff edge, with the current 13th and 14th holes on some of that land, while the rest is currently used as a practice area.
Whilst traditional in every sense, Gorleston is a forward-thinking club that is looking to the future trying to encourage younger members and visitors to come and sample some cliff-top golf and are constantly looking at ways to improve the course - most recently with a series of bunker renovations to bring them to a higher standard.
Upon arrival, I popped into the pro shop which was well stocked with all essentials plus some nice logoed accessories. Duncan, who is only the club’s 15th head professional, was out for the day, but his assistant Oli was most helpful and gave a brief rundown of the course.
We did also have time to grab some lunch before playing, and the bar & restaurant are both extremely pleasant with some historical images and artifacts dotted around. The bar menu available was just right with a nice selection of lighter options for pre play.
Sitting looking over the 1st tee was great whilst sitting inside, then your thoughts are brought to all those who are about to witness your effort.
Front 9 Overview
As you head out towards the North Sea to begin, I think the 1st hole somewhat sets the tone for the front 9 with bunkers to avoid as the hole moves around to the left and the small green for a target, you really don’t need to hit driver off the 1st, but depending on the size of the crowd watching from the terrace behind, the bigger the clubface the better.
With the tee on the 3rd hole sitting to the right of the fairway, picking a line on this 420 yarder is vital off the tee. With gorse running up some of the right-hand side, the bunker on the left is perfectly positioned to catch what would appear to be a good line.
The second shot will be of some distance into another small green that slopes from back to front so leaving an uphill putt would be ideal.
After the long par 3, you turn back towards the clubhouse and the stretch of holes running along the cliff edge. Luckily on the day these were playing downwind, but this could be a brutal stretch if playing into the wind.
The 6th has quite a dramatic second shot, you will need to leave yourself short of the fairway bunker, but the fairway then drops down and back up again to a green well protected by bunkers front and both left and right of the green.
You then turn back on yourself briefly to play the signature hole - a par 3 measuring 166 yards from the back tees. The green sits just 18 feet from the cliff edge and is the most easterly hole in the British Isles. Quite the backdrop too!
To finish the front, the 286-yard par 4 9th will appear driveable for the longer hitters, but you will need to avoid the fairway bunkers and anything lost out to the right will get close to the out of bounds.
Back 9 Overview
The back starts with a similar feel to the front, a shorter par 4 with a smaller green to find but after negotiating that the par 3 11th will demand a precise tee shot to a long narrow green with a false front adding extra punishment to anything coming up slightly short.
The 13th and 14th have a slightly different feel set off on the extra land that was purchased. Two dogleg par 4s playing 419 and 400 yards respectively. They both require a good tee shot as both holes are treelined, which offers a different protection to the rest of the course.
The first of two pars 5s awaits at the 15th. Plot your way down the hole and avoiding the bunkers littered down the fairway could set up a good birdie chance.
The 17th is a fun hole (my personal favourite along with the 7th). 309 yards off the white tee, this par 4 fairway runs out about 250 yards. The smart play is a long iron off the tee because as the fairway ends there is a big dip before the green where three nasty looking bunkers, that sit well below the green, will stop anything chasing up to the putting surface. Longer hitters may still fancy a pop (I did find the bunkers) but the risk and reward nature means if you back your bunker play, you can still give yourself a good birdie chance.
You finish on the only other par 5, which is another strong hole.
The fairway drops away from the tee and you could end up hitting a fairly long tee shot, but this may also be your downfall as if you don’t get all the way down the slope, your second shot will be with a longer club on a downhill lie and carrying the bunkers onto the green will be difficult. Maybe club choice off the tee, but it’s the last hole and it’s a fun par 5 so my recommendation would be to pull out your driver and give it a rip!
I really enjoyed the course at Gorleston. There are lots of bunkers (a lot of the surrounds have been worked on recently to improve them, not only playability but aesthetically too) and gorse to avoid, but most of it is fair and it's fairly simple to work out where not to hit from the tees.
I love the fact there is such a good selection of holes, Par 3s at 166 yards and 220 yards. Par 4s from 267 yards to 450 yards and the two par 5s no more than 530 yards (all from white tees), which gives big hitters a chance to show off their power but shorter hitters the chance to get close to a few holes too.
Naturally the main defence will be the wind but again, I think for anyone playing you will have a stretch into and downwind making it a firm but fair test. I don’t think it’s a 'hard' golf course but could play so. For me, this means that it’s such a good option for a mix of abilities and unless you are really wayward off the tee down the cliff stretch, you’ll be able to keep your ball in play. I could imagine it would also play a lot harder if the rough was allowed to grow a bit too.
Based so close to the sea, you would expect Gorleston will be playable all year round with dry tees and fairways and great putting surfaces so anyone looking for some better conditions during the winter months then it’s well worth a trip.
To summarise. The welcome was great. The course is very well kept and the layout is fun, offers variety and is challenging but fair.
The atmosphere around the whole place was great too, you get a sense that there is a happy membership, and you can see why. The course will continue to improve under the supervision of course manager Danny Perring, who has already made significant enhancements to the layout during his five-year tenure.
The food is great, the hospitality options are great with that traditional feel and it’s just an all-round nice place to be.
It is ranked as Highly Recommended on Golfshake by previous visitors and I can clearly see why and definitely plan to return again during the summer months when staying local on holiday.
Overall Rating - 8
Course (Conditions) - 8
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 9
Course (Green Condition) - 8
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 7
Club Facilities & Clubhouse - 7
Practice Facilities - 7
Friendliness/Hospitality - 10
Pace of Play - 9
Value For Money - 10
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|Gorleston Golf Club
from 34 reviews