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Royal Cromer Golf Club Feature Review

By: Andrew Picken | Wed 02 Aug 2023

I have played in competitive events at Royal Cromer previously but not reviewed it before. Its Golfshake Rating is currently an impressive 4.82 with 98% of golfers recommending a visit. 

Awarded MUST PLAY status in 2023, it has performed consistently each year. Achieving a Highly Recommended status in 2018 and maintaining it every year since until 2021 when it achieved an Outstanding grade through its consistently high reviews.

This is a venue of unsurpassed historic relevance to the sport as a whole. They even have a history room in the clubhouse where precious treasures are kept and proudly displayed. When visiting please give yourself extra time to review this material as it is a valuable resource of museum standard. This is a special venue that knows it, but still does its level best to remain welcoming and friendly to the visiting golfer. 

Originally set over nine holes, it was none other than Old Tom Morris, who in 1891 advised the club on the changes that would be needed to pave the way for an 18-hole course. James Braid and J.H. Taylor also influenced the layout over the years and it also has an important role in the formation of the Curtis Cup.

Protected areas of scientific beauty surround the course and it is very aware of its special environmental responsibilities. It is one of my favourite clifftop coastal courses. Royal standards are not easily achieved and maintained so expect a highly polished, well-presented venue of the highest order.

Royal Cromer

Pre-Round Thoughts

The clubhouse and changing rooms are substantial and in keeping with a club of this era. Functional and a little rustic, but it does everything needed by a successful golf course for both visitors and members. The fayre offered in the clubhouse was superb, much of it homemade, and exactly what an established member’s club of this type would support. 

Royal Cromer has a number of literary connections as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame wrote the 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' while staying nearby. Oscar Wilde was among the regular golfing patrons. Lord Tennyson was too. There are only a select few Royal clubs in the world and that also sets this venue apart. The club was proud to attain its Royal status through the patronage of The Prince of Wales who became King Edward VII.

The Curtis Cup was conceived at this venue in 1905 when the Ladies British Amateur was played here. An impromptu international event between the USA players and Great Britain was organised. It was so enjoyable an event that the Curtis Sisters offered to supply a silver trophy to encourage an event for the future. It did not reach fruition until 1932 as official support and financing had then been arranged.

Front 9 Overview

Royal Cromer

The course opens with a gentle dogleg par 4 with the green sitting nestled behind a couple of bunkers and swales. The second hole is a tempter for the longer hitters but the green is again tightly protected by the green complex and crafty bunkering. Hole 3 is called Sycamores and at 315 yards is a definite tempter for the longer ball striker. A highly accurate drawn ball would be required to avoid said trees and the bunkers ringing the green. I particularly enjoyed the 6th and 8th holes known as “Cliffhanger” and “Target Hill” respectively. The 6th is the course's most difficult hole given the proximity of the cliff edge to the tee shot. The green falls back to front so this can also be visually deceptive. A real golfing gem this one. The 18th has some clever bunkering on the right-hand flank that supports the slopes of the fairway. This is a hole that will benefit from a strategic play rather than an attempt at brute strength. 

The 9th is called “Wembley” and is a beauty of a short hole. The elevated tee box nestling on the coastal edge of the course offers amazing views and sounds when preparing to tee off. The coastal path is nearby highlighting the environmental heritage of the site to the non-golfer who may be using this busy coastal footpath.

Royal Cromer

Back 9 Overview

The back nine opens with a difficult par 5 known as “Over the Hill” with the green sitting between the 6th and 11th tee boxes and its long and thin styling making it look even thinner and more awkward to hit.

"The Plateau", the 12th, is a beauty. Relatively short but still taxing. Accuracy for the second shot is required as anything short will fail to hold and roll back towards your feet.

The 13th is called "Windy Ridge" and is a classic short hole. It is a postage stamp of a green needing no bunkers or additional protection other than its shape and style. The green is larger than it appears from the tee. A par on this green is well achieved. 

Royal Cromer

You then face "Lighthouse" - the most iconic hole for the course. Gorse patrols the left fairway, the sea the right. A marker post provides an ideal line but this is still a visually intimidating tee shot. For the approach shot, avoid going long and don’t be distracted by the wonderful views and lighthouse itself as you reach this highpoint in both round and scenery.

The 15th is called "Valley" and is another knee knocker on the tee. Ideally a straight drive to take the ball over at least 100 yards of gorse is required. There is heavy gorse and bunkers to the right to capture any ball slightly off the desired line. The green is also protected by a necklace of bunkers.

Royal Cromer

Next up is "Hogs Back" - the 16th. The fairway is narrow and requires a blind shot over a hill crest. This is the highest point of the golf course and I imagine that the weather will be a major factor in the recording of a successful score at this point of a round.

The penultimate hole is another gem. Called "Kestrel View" and is a short par 3 ranging from 94 to 119 yards. A necklace of bunkers protects the green frontage. There are steep swales and run-offs if the green is missed that include gorse.  Accurate use of the wind on this hole is a definite requirement. It appears that the wind “helps” on most occasions so be ready for its support!

Finally, "Home View" is a fine finishing hole. A carry off the tee of at least 155 yards is needed to reach the fairway. Gorse and deep bracken envelope the fairway to its right edges. The final green has a double tier with penal rough ready and willing to gather up any shot played with too much vigour.


Royal Cromer

As I travelled the golf course, I noted that the wind direction was a major factor throughout the entire round. Every shot has to take it into account on its own merits at that time, as it was subject to change. The weather during my visit was benign. I can only imagine how it can change as the winds increase.

The greens were of an exceptional quality. True, smooth and consistent. They were a dream to putt upon on but they are still a challenge given the subtle breaks.

Royal Cromer is among some distinguished company being one of only 77 clubs worldwide to have been given royal status. 

One of the things I noted was that it did not appear to take itself too seriously with a genuine desire to encourage and support the visiting golfer. The clubhouse was welcoming and the golf history room for a golfing nerd like me was a heavenly asset.

At no time did it feel stuffy and they actively encourage visits from visiting golfers, especially societies.

This is a very special place and one that if I lived locally would be sought out with a membership enquiry. I love its history and the fact that it is grounded upon its origins and heritage. It also promotes that heritage in an easy, comfortable manner without it feeling like a museum. 

If you are in the vicinity, please take the opportunity to visit and enjoy the rare mix of history, style and simple raw fun of this wonderful golf course and its club. 

Our reviews indicate that this is a Must Play venue and I totally agree.

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