Unlike Formula 1 or Boxing and aside from the occasional lightning strike, golf is not a sport where the competitors put their bodies or ultimately their lives on the line when competing.
Nevertheless all golfers would agree I am sure that it is a sport that induces anxiety and fear beyond rational levels. The design of some holes is so penal that even the most experienced of golfers can be seen to tremble. Here I pick numbers 10-6 of the most terrifying holes in Norfolk:
10= Swaffham/Kings Lynn 1st Hole
The first tee shot of the day creates a unique pressure. At St Andrews, for example, the 1st and 18th holes share a fairway that is perhaps the widest in world golf. This has not prevented some of the top golfers in the world succumbing to their nerves and hitting their opening shot out of bounds.
In Norfolk, the most intimidating opening holes at Swaffham and Kings Lynn share the same attributes and therefore cannot be seperated at number 10 on this list.
Both Swaffham (left) and Kings Lynn (right) create a claustrophobic atmosphere with narrow pines of trees playing havoc with the golfers psyche. The player is only too aware that a poor drive here could shatter their confidence (and score) before they have even got going. The advice – make sure you warm up properly before attempting to take on either of these most mean of opening holes.
9. Hunstanton 6th Hole
All golfers have shots that cause maximum terror. For some, it is a 3-foot downhill left to right putt. For others, a pitch over a bunker renders the co-ordination of their limbs impossible. Most slicers tense up in fear of any drive with trouble on the right hand side.
For me, one of the most fearsome shots is a 70 yard pitch to a narrow green. Give me a 7-iron from 160 yards and I am fine, but somehow the impending shame of a duff or a horrible pull into a bunker gives me kittens.
Nowhere in Norfolk is this fear most tested than the 6th at Hunstanton.
The drive on this short Par 4 is relatively straightforward but the uphill approach is anything but. With severe drop-offs on all sides, a firm fast green and most commonly a 20mph wind, your mind is prone to imagine all sorts of outcomes bar a successful one. If the green is missed, it is perfectly possible to miss again (and again) from much closer range, from side to side and back to front.
8. Sheringham 17th Hole
You can reasonably expect a few types of hazard on a golf course – sand, water, thick rough, heather and gorse are all common in England. Not many would expect to have to avoid an oncoming steam train just a few meters from their right hand side.
The North Norfolk Heritage Railway runs from the pretty market town of Holt (loved by the Royal Family, whose younger members often visit to shop when they are staying at Sandringham) to Sheringham with a regular steam service through the summer months and school holidays.
The drama of this hole does not end with the tee shot. Your approach can still leak onto the railway tracks and if you play away from this danger, there is a wall of gorse hard to the left of the green.
7. Royal Cromer Golf Club 6th Hole
Most people could justifiably expect water hazards to feature strongly on this list, given the penal nature of the penalty they provide. Our next hole on the list includes a rather large hazard of this kind – the North Sea.
With 100ft cliffs falling away to the beach and the sea all the way along the right hand side of the hole, this is a slicers nightmare. Combined with the desire to avoid the ramblers on the footpath that hugs the cliff edge, golfers can be forgiven for aiming well left here.
This Par 4 is a brute – played into the prevailing wind and with an uphill drive, for most players this is a 3-shotter.
6. Heacham Manor 7th Hole
A more conventional water hazard is the main feature of this stunning Par 3 at Heacham Manor, a relatively recent edition to golf in Norfolk.
The flatness of the landscaping means that from the tee, all the golfer can really see is the large expanse of water that stretches all the way to the green edge. Indeed the water is so close to the green, which slopes from back to front, that it is quite easy to embarrass yourself by putting into the hazard when the hole is cut towards the front of the putting surface.
Next Week – Positions 5-1 and the crowning of the most terrifying hole in Norfolk.