Set amid Suffolk’s costal heathland, Thorpeness offers a tough challenge to all levels of players. The great James Braid laid out Thorpeness in 1922 on low-lying heathland, a stone’s throw from the Suffolk coast in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Eight holes were added to Braid’s initial 10 a year later. This coastal heathland winds through heather, gorse, pine and silver birch… yet with the smell of sea salt in the air.
Despite being close to the sea, Thorpeness is definitely a heathland. That means it benefits hugely from firm, quick-drying soil and that gives Thorpeness very good turf that is always a delight to strike off.
Even in winter it remains firm and outside of the elite, Open-hosting venues you won’t find many better playing surfaces in Britain. Lots of bent grass make for fast, pure greens in summer.
Standout holes on the front nine include the 3rd, which winds around a boating mere. Henry Longhurst rated this one of his favourite holes in golf. On Thorpeness’s back nine, the 12th and 18th are both terrific; the former because it has the famous ‘house in the clouds’ and a windmill as a backdrop.
You’ve got chances to attack at the 1st, 9th, 11th, 14th, and 17th but there are several tough holes, notably the 4th, 5th, 13th, 15th and 18th. Thorpeness’ difficulty is much greater than its yardage suggests.
In terms of difficulty, ambience and design many would argue Thorpeness is the best in Suffolk. Its strength is the classic Braid design and that it has genuinely memorable holes.