In this final part of my review of the best par 3 holes in Norfolk under 150 yards, we will identify the top 5 in the category.
If you missed part 1 counting down positions 10 to 6, you can find it here.
So far in the ranking we have found a number of template drop holes. The top 5 positions however, contain much greater variety and architectural creativity. Lets delve in.
5. Mundesley Golf Club – 7th Hole – 100 yards
We start our top five on the North Norfolk coast with a perfect example of how a hole can be better playing 100 yards than 170.
As a 9-hole course, Mundesley employs multiple tee positions to add variety to a second loop of nine. When playing this hole as the 16th, the tee position is pushed 70 yards further back. Is it more challenging? Yes. Is it a better hole? No way.
To analyse why, we need to consider the green complex.
Playing uphill from the tee, the tiny green sits like a pimple on the horizon with dangerous drop-offs on each side. Its entrance is narrowed further by overhanging tree branches on the left. The golfer naturally will favour this side given the cavernous bunker along the left of the putting surface.
A great bit of fun with a wedge in hand but the target is little small for a long-iron.
4. Feltwell Golf Club – 11th Hole – 109 yards
Uniquely, this hole could have featured twice in the top 10.
Employing a similar strategy to its counterpart at Mundesley, Feltwell gives variety to the golfer by changing tee positions for each loop of nine. The 2nd/11th hole employs some outstanding design to create two very different challenges.
From the 2nd tee, the hole plays around 140 yards. From this angle, the green slopes with the player from front left to back right, offering a fairly generous target, albeit with strong bunkering and mounding for a loose shot.
Whilst the 2nd could quite easily have been included in this ranking, it is the 11th that stands out. Moving the tee way to the right of its front nine position creates a completely different feel. Golfers are now hitting to the green at a very narrow angle and directly over the fearsome bunker that previously sat away to the right of the approach.
A brilliant bit of design, the margin for error here is tiny, especially with the prevailing winds whipping across the neighbouring fenland.
3. Royal Cromer Golf Club – 17th Hole – 119 yards
Created and brought into play in 1979, the short 17th at RCGC is one of the newest holes on the layout, but it has developed beautifully to become an outstanding short short hole.
Arriving from the 16th green, golfers are met with a panoramic view of the course from the back of the 17th tee, with the North Sea in full glory.
Turning to the task in hand, the gap between tee and green is swathed by a different type of sea – gorse. The green sits in anticipation with a seeming infinity drop-off beyond back towards Cromer town.
A quick glance through the Hole-in-One book in the 19th hole shows that the 17th is a favourite from ace club members. Miss the putting surface, however, and the story is very different.
Gorse and bunkers lie in wait for the underhit or pushed tee shot, but it is to the left where the golfers nightmare can really come true. The green runs off in this direction and so any shot with a hint of draw can disappear off this side into the Devils Pits – a series of 20 foot deep depressions from which escape with a par is almost an impossibility.
With any score between a 1 and a 6 a realistic result, this hole epitomises the very best attributes of a short Par 3.
2. Kings Lynn Golf Club – 5th Hole – 133 yards
KLGC is a heathland gem on the outskirts of the West Norfolk market town. Whilst the claustrophobic pine trees on the series of dog-leg Par 4’s are not to everybodies taste, there is little argument that the layout contains an outstanding set of short holes.
The first and shortest of the set is the 5th. Set in a pretty corner of the course the architects here (Peter Allis and Clive Clarke) have employed the common strategy on short par 3’s of filling the area between tee and green with hazards to fry the golfers thinking.
In this case it is lovely broken heathland and an enormous bunker to front the green. With wonderful mature trees and natural undulating run-offs surrounding the putting surface, the aesthetic appeal here adds to the perfect design to create a wonderful Par 3.
1. Royal West Norfolk GC – 4th Hole – 129 yards
With one of the most charming and magical golf experiences to be found anywhere in the UK, it is no surprise that the number 1 hole on the list is taken from the jewel in the crown of Norfolk golf on the North Coast at Brancaster.
From the tee, the golfer is facing back directly towards the North Sea, with the dunes forming the backdrop to the wide putting surface. This is the first time that the routing has taken this direction to this point and so the player cannot be sure of the wind influence – which can often be into the face of the hole.
The uncertainty in the mind is multiplied many times over by the sight of the railway sleepers forming a castle like barrier along the front of the green. Never was there such a confidence shattering sight as a ball rebounding from these hazards back towards where you have just played from. Never mind the health and safety officers shaking head, these quirky hazards are from a bygone age and awesome.
If you can clear the fortifications at the front of the green, then there is unfortunately little respite on the putting surface. Baked hard on this elevated and exposed part of the course, this is a true links green – fast and undulating.
A stunning challenge but most of all amazing fun, this hole deserves its lofty ranking and in a wider sense poses the question as to why more courses do not add shorter teeing options for championship play?