Top Links:

Get A Golf Handicap

UK Golf Guide

Golfshake Top 100s

Find Golf Travel Deals

Golf Competitions


Community Forum


Tee Times | Search | Reviews


Gear | Tour | Industry Insider


Video Library | Tuition Sections


Join | Log In | Help | Useful Links


Aldeburgh Golf Club Review

By: Matt Holbrook | Wed 15 May 2024

Golf at Aldeburgh dates way back to 1884, and in fact, it's known to be England's second oldest heathland course. Another claim is that Aldeburgh is the thirteenth oldest course in the world that still sits on its original ground. 

The championship heathland layout is renowned for being the toughest course in Suffolk, with a combination of gorse and heather-lined fairways, challenging bunkering, and some of the slickest greens you'll experience. 

Currently a par 68 with no par 5s (although this will be changing as of 2025), Aldeburgh represents a unique challenge with 12 of its 14 par 4s measuring over 400 yards off the back tees with the course standing at over 6,600 yards from the blue tees. The course record here remained level par until 1984 when John Lloyd fired an impressive three-under 65 in the special medal to celebrate the club's centenary. 

The stunning Edwardian clubhouse was opened in 1911 and you can feel the history throughout, in particular the old wooden beams and lockers within the changing rooms. 

Aldeburgh has been the venue for many important events, including the English Ladies Championship in 2003, the Oxford v Cambridge University match in 2007 and 2021, the English South-East County Champions in 2009, and the English Senior Amateur Championship in 2012.

Most recently Aldeburgh also played host to The R&A's Jacques Leglise Trophy in 2019, which was won by The Continent of Europe team, and the 2018 England Golf County Finals in 2018.

Aldeburgh Golf Club

Pre-Round Thoughts

Upon arrival at Aldeburgh, you immediately sense the history and quality of the course and venue. The large tall flagpole that accompanies a lot of historical courses that are located close to the sea is visible from the road as you approach and sits just next to the putting green besides the 1st tee. 

In fact, it may go unnoticed as you enter the car park because so much is instantly visible. Putting green, 1st tee and 1st hole, the grand clubhouse and pro shop, 10th tee, the old artisan clubhouse and the chipping green. 

The pro shop is cute and petite, but is well stocked with everything needed, The professional, Keith Preston, is actually the club's longest serving head professional having taken up the position in 1986 

There is a practice ground available, as well as two practice nets hidden just to the right of the car park and all other warm-up facilities are maintained to the same quality as the course itself providing a great experience before play. 

Front 9 Overview

Given the general length of most holes at Aldeburgh, the opener may be considered somewhat 'gentle' at just a shade under 400 yards from the middle tees. 

As the fairway falls away from the tee box, the views across some of the course from this point are sublime and you will be forgiven for almost forgetting about the test in front, which comes in the form of fairway bunkers either side that absolutely need to be avoided in order to find the putting surface that falls from back to front. Leaving an uphill put on these testing greens will be an early advantage. 

The green on the cracking 3rd hole is hidden from sight at the summit of a hill, with the hole playing uphill slightly and moving from right to left. You have to aim at the marker post behind the green and getting the distance right is pivotal. 

The signature 4th hole is perhaps one that many people that are familiar with Aldeburgh will have seen or heard about. Ironically, the shortest hole on the course by some 30/40 yards, this stunning par 3 is one of the standout holes in the whole of East Anglia. 

The middle tee card will reads 117 yards - but this will vary largely depending on where the pin is placed on the day. 

Aldeburgh Golf Club

The green - almost shaped like a jelly bean - is protected by a sleepered 'U' shaped bunker running all the way around the front. The tiny portion of green back right can play host to a devilish pin (I do have personal experience) with a hidden bunker sitting just behind the green. Any shot to the middle of this green will be the safest place. An excellent short par 3 and one that will be remembered. 

Aldeburgh Golf Club

Another excellent but difficult par 4 greets you at the 6th. A long straight shot will be needed to get a sight of the green as the hole doglegs from right to left on approach. Whilst the green is a fairly big target, the bunkers down the right hand side will need to be avoided, but it's also a great viewpoint looking back down the hole from behind the green with some stunning scenes of the estuary in the distance. Pure delight on any given day. 

The 9th hole is a fitting finish to a fantastic front nine. From a raised tee box, the entire hole sits in full view in front of you and the clubhouse in the distance. 

Plenty of bunkers to be avoided - both left and right here. In particular one that almost shapes like a love heart. Quite ironic really, because finding any of these may in fact leave you heartbroken and a certain 5 will be on the cards. 

Back 9 Overview

The back half really comes to life at the 11th. 437 yards from the middle tees, bunkers galore all the way down the fairway and playing into a green that sits slightly below the fairway, but is not visible due to another bunker running along the front of the surface. This green is akin to the inside of a bowl, meaning a downhill putt is most likely - of course, depending on the pin position on the day. 

The 12th and 13th are the two 'shorter' par 4s on the course. 

12, by far the shortest at 314 yards may require just a long iron off the tee to find the fairway - but another hole where a large looming bunker along the front is protecting the green. 

The 13th plays from a raised tee box down to the fairway and moves slightly from right to left as you play. The large bunkers on the left hand corner get you thinking from the tee. 

Depending on the wind, playing a 5 or 6 iron to the heart of the fairway and short of those bunkers may be the smartest choice - but it will leave you a tougher second shot into the green. 

The braver souls may decide to take on the corner with a driver, but as the hole moves to the left, anything leaking right (for us righties) may run out of fairway and into a spot of bother. 

A very well thought out hole. 

At 200 yards, the 15th plays host to the longest of the par 3s. Again, very well protected by a plethora of bunkers, finding the putting surface is vital to make a par here, especially given that a lot of shots up the left or right of the green may feed towards the middle. 

The 18th is a fantastic finishing hole, fitting of any championship course. Quite often playing into a wind, as in the majority of places at Aldeburgh, avoiding the number of bunkers up both sides of the fairway will leave a mid to long iron to a long but narrow green with more bunkers and large mounds leaving you hoping on luck with anything that isn't heading towards the centre of the green. 

Hole Highlights

Aldeburgh Golf Club

The biggest part of the test of Aldeburgh comes from the fact that the tee shots on most, if not all, of the holes can be very punishing if not fairway bound. In a lot of places, you really feel like hitting longer irons from the tee. Keeping the ball in play is absolutely vital if you want any kind of half decent score. The issue with this, is then leaving yourself a lot of mid to long iron approach shots into greens that, when the course is dry, can be very firm and fast rendering them difficult to hold.

If you think you are able to do this, then the next issue you may face - and I am speaking from experience here - is that hitting lots of long iron shots into greens can become quite demanding and is almost a test of your golf endurance as well as ability. 

The course can become very dry and fiery and I have witnessed the greens at Aldeburgh being so slick there is almost a glassy shine to them. It's tough from tee to green, start to finish. 

I played in an open competition last year at Aldeburgh and whilst I shot 14-over, the score was actually worth seven-over for handicap that round - just to give you an idea of how tough it is. It's worth mentioning that this hasn't put me off entering again this year!

Post-Round Thoughts

Aldeburgh Golf Club

As mentioned above, Aldeburgh is an extremely testing golf course, but one that can and should be experienced and enjoyed by golfers of all ages and abilities. While steeped in tradition, the club are also showing their forward thinking side by introducing a selection of tee boxes to play from, meaning there is an option for everyone. 

In fact, there are five different sets of tees rated for both men and women before you get back to the Whites and Blue - which are usually reserved for the larger competitions. 

Even though you play 14 par 4s, I never found that two holes are the same and it's not very often I play a course and think there isn't a weak hole. Which is what I find with Aldeburgh. 

It's worth noting that Aldeburgh is a two ball or foursomes golf course. Meaning rounds are expected to take no longer than three hours. Whilst I think there may be room to work some three or four balls onto the course to be more suitable to visiting groups, there is something I really like about this from a pace of play standpoint. 

The food and drink on offer is great and can be enjoyed in the comfort of the bar area, or indeed if the weather permits, sat out on the terrace overlooking parts of the course. 

After, if you felt you needed some more golf, you could always head over the road to the more relaxed nine-hole River Course, which is another feather in the Aldeburgh cap. A great little par 32 layout at under 2,000 yards. 

Overall Rating - 10

Course (Conditions) - 10

Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10

Course (Green Condition) - 10

Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 10

Club Facilities & Clubhouse - 9

Practice Facilities - 9

Friendliness/Hospitality - 9

Pace of Play - 10

Value For Money - 9

Related Content: review Must Play golfshake golfbreaks Golf Courses Courses

What do you think? post your thoughts and feedback on the Golfshake Forum: https://forum.golfshake.com/

Scroll to top