In this week’s blog we look at the 5 toughest 2 shot holes in Norfolk. Not only are these holes long and extremely demanding for even elite level players, they contain classic and fair design features that enable them to stand above the competition.
5. Royal West Norfolk Golf Club – 14th Hole – 430 yards
RWNGC or ‘Brancaster’ as it is known to locals, contains a wealth of golden age course architecture and it is one of the best examples in the world of a course that has had relatively few alterations since its creation 130 years ago.
Full of delicious quirks throughout the layout, it is perhaps the stretch between the 3rd and 9th holes that is the most memorable. For the toughest and arguably best piece of architecture on the course however, you must wait until the 14th.
Playing into the prevailing wind, the hog’s back fairway is generous enough, but the length of the hole and the accuracy required for the approach shot will make a 4 unlikely for anybody missing the fairway.
The magic and main challenge of this design is in the green complex and surrounds. Sunken into a Punch Bowl, in the links tradition it is possible for a running shot to use the contours to find the putting surface.
Get on the wrong side of the ridges however, and the pitch shot becomes extremely high tariff. With sleepered bunkers and slopes, blind angles and crazy undulations, this is classic links golf and its most fun and challenging.
4. Thetford Golf Club – 18th Hole – 472 yards
Thetford Gold Club, set amongst Breckland heath and pines, contains a set of demanding Par 4’s to rival any in Norfolk. It saves its most difficult until the very end of the round.
A daunting 472 yards and uphill, the margins for error here are very tight, particularly in the summer months when the fairways can get hard-baked.
From the tee, the bunker at the corner of the dog-leg on the right acts as a kind of magnet to those attempting the shortest route. A draw off of this trap can work, but it is easy to run out of room on the left of the short grass and find yourself in gnarly heather.
The approach shot increases the tariff even further as the hole drifts uphill and left to right towards the clubhouse. The best angle is from the left of the fairway, where a raking draw can use the contours of the land to good effect. From the right side, a fade will be required, but with OOB tight to the left of the green, this is a risky option.
Most golfers will be quite happy with a 5 here, with a par certainly picking up shots on the field.
3. Sheringham Golf Club – 5th Hole – 458 yards
Standing on the 5th tee at Sheringham and looking West along the Norfolk Coast, the view takes your breath away. But focus must be maintained because what faces you is one of the best and toughest holes in the County.
From the elevated tee, the Drive must carry a valley to reach the fairway and gain a view of the green. With the cliffs and North Sea cutting in on the right and large bunkers on the left, the target is narrow but thrilling. Left of the bunkers is a bail-out, but this will leave a blind shot from a sloping lie in the rough for a long approach.
The green takes a spectacular infinity look, with significant fall offs to left and behind the surface. A bank on the right will help your ball avoid the beach below, but will also kill the approach short of the target.
This is a roller-coaster of a golf hole that can leave you shaken but with a wonderful sense of achievement if you can come through unscathed.
2. Royal Cromer Golf Club – 6th Hole – 454 yards
With the back tee re-introduced and the introduction of a second left hand fairway bunker in 2019, the 6th at RCGC justifies its reputation as one of the most difficult holes in Norfolk.
Played into the prevailing South-Westerly, the golfer attempting to reach the green in regulation must take on the right side of the fairway – and the cliff edge – to gain the benefit of the contours and avoid the left hand bunkers. Most of Norfolk is available to the left as a bail out, but this will leave a blind second out of range of the green.
The putting surface is long but narrow with a steep drop-off to the left. A bank on the right side can help your ball towards the pin, but anything caught on this bank will leave a tricky pitch shot.
A spectacular hole with views along the coast to Cromer Pier, it contains a range of options to play for a bogey, but for those striving for a Par, an epic adventure awaits.
1. Hunstanton Golf Club – 17th Hole – 465 yards
Hunstanton is a traditional links layout at the Western end of the Norfolk Coast and is as tough as a month old steak.
Sitting head and shoulders above its rivals as the most difficult of a particularly tricky bunch is the 17th hole.
By this point in the round, you have been buffeted by the coastal breeze for 4 hours, ground into almost submission by the layout and then you survey the scene of this evil masterpiece and you cannot help but take a wry grin and privately admit defeat against a superior opponent.
The Drive must be shaped with the left to right contours, taking particular care to avoid the deep rough and bunkers at the right hand corner of the dog-leg. It is quite a generous target, just do not miss it!
The approach shot is anything but generous. The eye of the needle must be threaded to ride the contours and hit the green in regulation.
A pulled approach will leave a blind pitch from the rough to a green sloping away from you. From here it is virtually impossible even to hit the putting surface. From the steep drop off on the right of the green you are faced with a very tight lie, up a ‘wall’ to the pin and facing the real prospect of watching the marginally under-hit chip rolling back to your feet.
The famously quick and true surfaces just add that final element of challenge to a brutal but brilliant examination.