Just outside the pretty seaside town of the same name on the Suffolk coast, Aldeburgh Golf Club lies half an hour from Ipswich and dates back to 1880. Only nearby Felixstowe Ferry in this part of the world is older. This is what you would call traditional golf. Aldeburgh allows no fourballs, positively encourages foursomes, has no par 5s and possesses fast-running fairways lined by sleepered bunkers and banks of gorse.
Aldeburgh enjoys a rich history. Its heathland layout was shaped by no fewer than three Open champions: first Willie Fernie (winner of the Claret Jug in 1883), then Willie Park Jnr (1887 and 1889) and finally JH Taylor (1894, 1895, 1900, 1909 and 1913).
The famous duo of Harry Colt and Hugh Alison, in the 1920s, also had an input, creating Aldeburgh’s famously demanding closing stretch. The course is heathland in nature and almost unrelentingly testing with a collection of demanding par 4s its calling card.
As a club, Aldeburgh is the kind of place where they do things their own way. You can only play in twoballs so our suggestion is to adopt the ‘when in Rome’ maxim. Foursomes is brilliant fun, especially round a testing heathland course like this one.
The testing long 4s are quite something, with perhaps the pick of the bunch the 11th with its positively links-like fairway rippling into the distance. Until you reach your ball, you can never be quite sure where your shot has finished, especially in the dusty summer months.
Unless your long iron play is of the highest quality, you must embrace dropping the odd shot at Aldeburgh because it will happen. And once they are gone they really do take some earning back. There are no par 5s, no driveable par 4s and only one of the short holes is an obvious chance of a two.
It’s certainly not impossible so score well here, just bear in mind that the par is a mere 68. That means you can bogey more holes than you par and still break 80.
With the front nine rarely out of sight of Aldeburgh’s attractive clubhouse, and intermittent views of the River Alde and even the North Sea on a clear day, this is the most pleasant of places to play and surely the finest course in Suffolk.
In this part of the world, it’s holiday golf to be sure, but it’s also much more than that.