Welcome to the final part of my Top 10 Par 5 holes in Norfolk where I will be counting down the top 5 most thrilling 3 shot holes in the County.
If you missed Part 1 covering positions 10-6, you can find it here.
Without further ado, let us get straight into the list:
5. Great Yarmouth & Caister Golf Club – 13th Hole – 541 yards
As the oldest Club in Norfolk, Yarmouth and Caister offers traditional, undiluted links golf. Many golfers are put off by the lack of aesthetic beauty of the surrounds (housing, caravan sites, roads and racetrack), or by the rough nature of the natural terrain but by any standards, the stretch of holes between the 4th and the 16th present an excellent run of links golf that is a match for many of the more prestigious courses in the British Isles.
The highlight of this stretch is the Par 4 – Par 3 – Par 5 run between the 11th and the 13th. The 11th and 12th have featured in my Norfolks Finest 18 and Top 10 Par 3 holes respectively. For this particular list, the 13th gets its moment in the spotlight.
The tee shot is very inviting in that the fairway appears generously wide. Most golfers therefore will not think twice about taking a Driver. Thick patches of gorse line the fairway on both sides however, so the penalty for a wayward shot can often be a lost ball.
The very longest hitters must beware an undulating patch of land with gorse that cuts the fairway into an island at around 300 yards from the tee. For most golfers however, this is a hazard to carry with their blind second shots towards the green.
The green itself is long and narrow with a subtle tier in the middle. There is another large ‘pit’ of rough and bracken hard to the left of the green to punish a wayward approach. Overall an excellent and fair long hole that rewards great shots but is not without teeth.
4. Kings Lynn Golf Club – 10th Hole – 499 yards
Kings Lynn (possibly with Hunstanton) arguably possesses the strongest set of Par 5’s in the County. They are also the most aesthetically appealing.
The individual highlight amongst this bunch is the 10th hole. In direct contrast to our previous entry, the tee shot here creates a sense of claustrophobia, with the narrow fairway set between imposing pine trees.
The design of this hole creates great options for the golfer. For the brave, a long drive can catch the downslope and shape around the left to right dog-leg to offer the chance to reach the green with your second shot. For the more cautious, there is a clear 3 shot option.
There is no doubt that this hole offers great beauty – but it is also expertly designed and great fun to play.
3. Thetford Golf Club – 17th Hole – 505 yards
Edging into 3rd place by the narrowest of margins and offering a very similar challenge to the 10th at Kings Lynn is the 17th Hole at Thetford Golf Club.
This is a spectacular, sweeping downhill left to right dog-leg of a Par 5 that challenges the senses, tightens the mind and offers ecstasy or disaster in a single swing.
With firm turf and the downhill slope this hole offers a real chance for players to reach the green in two. In order to take up this tempting invitation, the golfer has to shape their tee shot left to right against the camber of the fairway in order to avoid running through the dog-leg.
A large tree guarding the short right side of the green means that the approach must be from the left hand side of the fairway. Any tee shot or lay-up drifting down the right side will make life very difficult and often require a recovery pitch.
I believe that a great Par 5 should offer the chance for an heroic eagle to be achieved and this hole certainly does that – but in order to do so may well require your two best shots of the day.
2. Hunstanton Golf Club – 9th Hole – 517 yards
At number two in the list, we move back into links turf with the strong and straight 9th hole at Hunstanton.
There is nothing particularly subtle or hidden about this hole – it is just a great links challenge.
The tee shot is played from a slightly elevated tee with a 170 yard carry required to the fairway. The hole is flanked all the way up the left hand side with a sand dune whilst the right side drops away significantly towards the lower lying 10th fairway.
A number of bunkers guard the approach to the putting surface. The green itself is tricky, with a false front and significant drop-off to the right hand side protecting the viciously sloping surface.
The role of the wind should not be underestimated as part of the challenge and joy of links golf. I cannot recall many better feelings in golf than the one I experienced here after punching a 3 Wood from 240 yards through the left to right 20mph breeze to the upper level of the green for an eagle putt (I missed!). Indeed I believe that a crucial element of this holes design is missing on a windless day. Of course, situated right on the coast, this situation is as rare as snow in this Eastern side of the country.
1. Royal West Norfolk Golf Club – 8th Hole – 494 yards
It should come as no surprise that the truly world class 8th Hole at ‘Brancater’ on the North Norfolk Coast attains the title of the best Par 5 in Norfolk.
As you stand on this tee, you are forgiven for thinking that the hole is indeed impossible, with nothing but marshland to view. A thin slither of fairway does actually exist as an island of high ground surrounded by trouble.
If by luck or skill the tee-shot does find the fairway, then another thrilling carry over the marsh is required to find the land where the green sits.
It could be argued that this hole does not offer the design feature of choice that others in the top 10 include. It is either hero or zero here. Whilst that may in some ways be true, the main element of choice here is the amount of carry to take on from the tee. With the fairway angling from left to right away from the golfer, the futher right the aimline, the greater the carry required. The reward of course, is a shorter approach to the green.
Brancaster offers old-school charm at every turn, but the 8th hole is the highlight. A worthy tip to a resplendent iceberg of golf in Norfolk.