This week concludes my look at the most remarkably ridiculous golf hole designs in Norfolk. With over 30 courses and a mix of links, clifftop, heath and parkland tracks to choose from the options were varied, but here is my top 5:
5. Kings Lynn Golf Club – 7th Hole – 366 yards Par 4
Kings Lynn Golf Club is almost 100 years old, but only moved to its current site in 1975. Peter Allis & Clive Clark designed the ‘new’ layout and a fine track has been created. For me, however, a chance was missed to elevate this fine piece of land into a track to truly rival the best of the famed Surrey heathland beauties.
The 7th hole seems to encapsulate my frustrations perfectly.
As you stand on the tee, you are choked by the pine trees. They are everywhere – including the middle of the fairway and cutting in on the corner of the dogleg on the left.
Having played the course several times, I am still not sure of the best strategy. I guess some kind of high fade with a fairway wood is the shot, but there does not seem to be an option to lay back with an iron, or really a sensible shot with a Driver.
Like much of this lovely course, it just leaves me frustrated.
4. Eaton Golf Club – 18th Hole – 468 yards Par 4
Eaton Golf Club is a very well-appointed course near the center of the County city of Norwich.
It is an extremely pleasant, undulating layout with a faintly ridiculous closing hole.
The long Par 4 doglegs sharply at around 200 yards (the above plan underestimates the angle of the dog-leg). You therefore have the option to play straight from the tee with an iron, but this takes away the chance to reach the green in two.
The issue for me is the proximity and height of the trees to the left of the tee. Unless you are Jason Day, it is virtually impossible to gain height quickly enough on a Driver or 3 Wood to clear their height. A more lofted Club will not make the carry over the dog-leg to the narrow fairway.
I guess that the best option is to play the hole as a 3-shotter and hope for a single putt. But why take-away the chance for the heroic final tee shot?
3. Mundesley Golf Club – 6th Hole – 262 yards Par 4
The North Norfolk 9 hole layout at Mundesley makes its second entry into the top 10 with the remarkable 6th hole.
From the tee, you look out across the lovely view of Norfolk, focusing upon fairway bunkers at around 150 yards before the earth just seems to disappear beyond them.
Playing the course for the first time this summer, I drew a 3wood from my bag as I approached the tee. Cue panicked expressions from my playing partner (who had played the course several times) and quickly the club was replaced with a 5-iron.
Now this club will carry about 175-180 yards for me on average. But the steep drop-off all the way to the narrow green over the bunkers meant that, upon reaching the horizon, my ball was settled in the middle of the green.
It seems a bit weird to hit mid-irons to Par 4’s. Should it be a Par 3? Not too sure this would improve the hole. File this one under strange but fun.
2. Hunstanton Golf Club – 14th Hole – 219 yards Par 3
Hunstanton is rightly regarded as one of the giants of English Links golf and rightly so – it is chocced full of pure links holes.
In my view, however, it also contains one of the most frustratingly designed holes on any top-level course.
Played into the prevailing wind and therefore often requiring a fairway wood, the hole is completely blind from the tee.
The approach needs to land short of the green to allow for the downhill slope. Bunkers await left and right over the brow of the hill to prevent any slightly offline shot from getting a lucky bounce.
Links golf always treads a thin line regarding how much luck plays a part in a successful outcome, but this hole seems to step just the wrong side of that line. And any hole that requires you to vigorously shake the large marker pole behind the putting surface to indicate that the green is clear is just there for comedy value, right?
1. Richmond Park Golf Club – 18th Hole – 400 yards Par 4
With a design eerily similar to its counterpart at Eaton (see number 4), but with even more ridiculous design elements, the 18th at Richmond Park justifiably attains the dubious crown of the most extraordinary golf hole design in Norfolk.
The feeling that this may not be an average hole design begins as you approach the tee, where a large sign reads ‘Any shot struck more than 200 yards will be out of bounds’. This is in reference to the location of some lucrative wooden lodges built by the Club and sited at the corner of the dog-leg. Just to make sure that their prized possessions are protected, a small pond has been created at the perfect driving distance just round the corner. It is, of course, not visible from the tee.
To create the perfect storm, the trees to the left of the tee have grown to make it impossible to cut the dog-leg (unless you can hit a huge banana hook). The 190 yard tee shot that is the only real option will therefore leave a 210 yard uphill approach to a crazy 2-tiered green with OB hard to the right to protect the pro-shop.
I understand that non-golf related income streams are vital for the modern golf club, but in order to keep the hole fair than the green should be 50 yards closer to allow a 4-iron – 7 iron type of approach.
And so our list is complete. The top 10 creates a couple of recurring patterns:
- The 18th hole makes up 40% of the list. Does the designer try too hard to create a ‘wow’ finish or (more likely) are they just trying to fit a hole in to finish at the clubhouse?
- Trees that once would have been fair hazards but have now grown out of context with the design feature heavily. Are Clubs scared to top, or remove trees where necesary due to the possible negative reaction of members?
All interesting questions. What holes would make your list?