Welcome to the final part of my focus upon the very best short Par 4’s in Norfolk – some of the most fun and architecturally interesting holes in the County.
Let’s jump straight into the top 5:
5. Sheringham Golf Club – 4th Hole 281 – 329 yards
Set at the very top of a spectacular piece of land on the North Norfolk coast, the 4th hole at Sheringham can often replace your smile with a grimace.
From the tee, the fairway angles slightly from left to right through a valley between dunes of gorse and bracken. Although the target is wide, anything drifting to the right is dead and although there is generous room to the left of the fairway, this will leave a blind approach.
It is the second shot that really quickens the tempo. A small, infinity style green slopes off on all sides, most viciously to the right. The views along the Norfolk coastline towards Weybourne from the putting surface are stunning and together with the ever-present wind from this high point on the cliffs, will combine to take your breath away.
4. Great Yarmouth & Caister Golf Club – 6th Hole 215 – 299 yards
This is great little hole starting at the furthest point from the clubhouse.
From the tee, the fairway is unseen, although the top of the pin gives an indication of line. The Drive must initially carry an area of gorse to reach the fairway, which rolls and sways like a choppy sea, falling away gentle to both sides into patches of gorse and rough sandy waste areas. A wild drive to the right will end up on the neighbouring horse racing track (which is in play!), providing a lush, deep lie.
The prevailing wind will bring this green into play for a lot of players from the tee. The green complex is fantastic and a great advert to how holes do not have to be long to be difficult. Wide but only a few paces deep, the surface has steep 15 foot high slopes falling away to front and rear.
The approach shot options are plentiful but all equally frightening. A half-wedge shot from the tight links turf has to be judged perfectly for strike, distance and spin in order to avoid the fall-offs. A running approach is possible but again devilishly difficult. Great design and even better fun.
3. Kings Lynn Golf Club – 2nd Hole 281 – 324 yards
The second at Kings Lynn showcases everything that is good about this demanding but beautiful West Norfolk layout.
For the opening shot, the choice for most golfers is the Club to reach the corner of the dog-leg some 200 yards from the tee. Beware that the wind can play tricks – below the level of the trees it can feel still but above it is anything but. At times during a round at Kings Lynn on a breezy day, trying to pick the wind direction can be like stepping off the waltzers onto firm ground at the fair – dizzying.
If you have managed to thread your tee-shot to provide a clear view of the green, it is just a short-iron to a surface angled from front right to back left. There is a steep fall-off to the left into an intimidating bunker. A back left pin is a sucker and should be treated with caution.
The putting surface is absolutely treacherous – sloping sharply from right to left. An approach shot leaving a directly downhill putt can be almost impossible to stop. This penal design is harsh, but given the length of the hole, the golfer must plan to leave an uphill putt, with the high side of the green almost a hazard in itself.
2. Royal West Norfolk Golf Club – 13th Hole 295 – 316 yards
There are holes on the links at ‘Brancaster’ that garner more attention than the short 13th, but this is a seemingly benign ‘filler’ that contains a sharp sting to unsuspecting golfers.
Although this hole is more than a century old – it contains many of the design elements that are making a comeback in modern design – width, angles, tough but small bunkers and a quirky, demanding putting challenge.
The vista from the tee towards the green, with dunes and the shoreline on the horizon is vast and flat. It would be very difficult to lose a ball here, but the key is angles – any approach from the rough either left or right will leave an extremely difficult pitch shot, where to even hit the putting surface is a great result.
The hole dog-legs slightly to the right at almost green length and the easiest approach is from the fairway at the angle of the dog-leg. From here, the length of the green is available, and the contours of the surface will guide your ball towards the hole.
Like the rest of the course, the bunkering here is both beautiful and harsh – wooden sleepers lining the face offer a health & safety executives nightmare and the embarrassment of your golf ball flying back past you quicker than it took off.
The green surface offers puzzles that even Stephen Hawking would struggle with – multiple slopes and contours that play tricks with your mind and can lead skilled players to seek counselling.
1. Hunstanton Golf Club – 6th Hole 276 – 355 yards
Taking the title for the best short Par 4 in Norfolk is the sixth at Hunstanton. This hole starts a stretch of links golf to match many of the Open venues and is a mini – monster that tests both nerve and skill.
The fairway is wide but the tee shot must be judged to avoid several deep bunkers flanking both sides. The best angle for approach will depend on wind direction and pin position, but in general a drive skirting as close to the bunkers as possible down the right hand side will leave the most desirable line.
There is no getting away from the fact that the second shot is scary. Playing off links turf to a pimple of a green that looks tiny and slopes off on all sides, usually with a significant breeze is a challenge that is too much for many.
The experience of missing the green and often tacking from one side to the other before picking up your ball in defeat does not help your mindset the next time you face the approach shot.
The putting surface itself does not offer much respite. This is a wickedly windswept high-point of the course and the green often resembles a recently polished marble floor – shiny and running around 14 on the stimp.
Like all of the holes in this top 10 – the chance for birdies and double-bogies is there for all levels of golfer. Options abound, angles are important and hazards are penal but playable. And how can you not have fun?