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Eaton Golf Club Review

By: Derek Clements | Tue 14 May 2024

I played much of my early golf in and around Glasgow, one of the biggest and busiest cities in Britain. And I loved the fact that on so many of the courses in Scotland’s biggest city you were surrounded by countryside. 

And that’s the thing with this sport of ours. All over the country there are city golf courses that give you the feeling that you could actually be in the middle of nowhere.

I now live in Norwich, which is Norfolk’s county city. And it is a haven for golf lovers. Whisper it, but I am about to tell you about what can only described as the city’s hidden gem. Yes, I know it is a cliche but there is no other way to describe this magnificent golf course.

Introducing Eaton Golf Club

Eaton Golf Club

To get to Eaton Golf Club you have to drive through a housing estate. I have to tell you that I found myself wondering if I had taken a wrong turning but trust your sat nav and there it is.

This is a vibrant golf club and was extremely busy on the glorious spring day that we were lucky enough to play it. In saying that, we managed to negotiate 18 holes in under four hours.

The club has more than 700 members and this year alone has attracted 70+ new members. And it is easy to understand why.

I always worry about the welcome I am going to receive at a course I have not played before but my fears were quickly put to rest here. General manager Neil Lythgoe is a joy. He clearly loves his job and his golf club and it is not difficult to see why. 

For me, the welcome you get at a course you are visiting for the first time tells you everything you need to know. I have played world-class golf courses where I felt about as welcome as a nun at a hen party. The bar staff in the characterful clubhouse and the club professional also greeted us with a smile. The clubhouse is extremely well appointed, with a bar and dining area and plenty of tables on the outdoor patio.

And the women's captain, recognising that we were not members, went out of her way to introduce herself and welcome us to her course. Very impressive.

I was also very impressed with the club’s website, which makes it clear that if you join you will be introduced to a "buddy" who will be able to help introduce you to other members and arrange games - something that is always a challenge when you move to a new golf club. Even more encouraging is that Eaton welcomes people who do not have a handicap and reaches out to golfers of all abilities.

Eaton Golf Club

The Course

Founded in 1910 and designed by four-time Open champion J.H. Taylor, Eaton is a par 70 measuring 6,194 yards. 

The green fee is £70, or £35 with a county card.

It is a true parkland course, with every hole framed by trees. And it is a proper challenge. There is not a single hole on which you can relax and open up your shoulders - accuracy from the tee is essential if you are to have any chance of scoring well - and the five par threes are as difficult as any I have ever played.

The Front Nine

It opens with a par five measuring 481 yards. Find the fairway and this is a pretty straightforward hole but stay away from the green side bunkers left and right. Do not go long! The second is a beast of a par three. It only measures 161 yards but the green is guarded by a vast bunker. Come up short and you could be in there all day - a golfer in front of us proved the point by taking three shots to escape the sand. I also have to report that the bunkers (and there are plenty of them) are all filled with "proper" sand. 

Eaton Golf Club

The third is a par four measuring 458 yards with a fairway that slopes from left to right. The approach is played to a green that also slopes from left to right.

The fifth is a beast of a par five measuring 535 yards. It is a gentle dogleg from left to right played to a narrow fairway with out of bounds running the entire length of the hole. The seventh is another testing par three measuring 190 yards and is played across a valley to a two-tier green. Do not come up short - if you do you will face a blind recovery shot. The front nine closes with another par three, this one measuring 195 yards, with trees short right.

The Back Nine

The back nine is rather more forgiving but you still cannot relax. The 10th is a par four measuring 360 yards. The fairway is generous but the green is protected by a brutal sleepered bunker on the right. The 11th is another par three, this one measuring 182 yards and played downhill to a green that takes some holding and is once again well protected by sand. The 12th is a delightful par four of 350 yards that calls for a drive to the left before an uphill approach to a heavily sloping green. The 13th is arguably the best par three on the course, measuring 160 yards and played to a green surrounded by well-placed bunkers. 

Eaton Golf Club

My favourite hole was the 16th, a downhill par five that stretches to 511 yards. The drive is semi-blind but find the fairway and you have a chance of hitting the green in two - as long as you can avoid the four green side bunkers. The 17th only measures 302 yards but the green sits at the top of a hill and calls for pinpoint accuracy with the approach. The 18th is a delightful closing hole, a par four measuring 468 yards that once again demands accuracy from the tee. The perfect shot from the tee is a draw followed by an approach to a large green. Par is a great score on this hole.

In Summary

Eaton Golf Club

Preferred lies were in place when we played but this was entirely unnecessary - the fairways were in superb condition and the ball sat up beautifully. The greens were firm, fast and true - among the best putting surfaces I have ever seen. As parkland courses go, this one is an absolute delight and I would not hesitate in recommending it.

Images were taken by Richard Hope, and for more information on this club, please go to www.eatongc.co.uk.

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