There can’t be too many courses where you study a chart before you play a round.
But a failure not to put in the necessary groundwork before visiting Royal West Norfolk could end up leaving you in deep water.
For the King’s Lynn-based course, known to most as Brancaster, has a really interesting quirk – it is at the mercy of the tides.
The club celebrates 125 years in 2017 and the classic links was the work of Holcombe Ingelby. Many of his original holes are still in play. It’s a beautiful setting, with the North Sea in full view on one side and the saltmarsh on the other.
It is played on a narrow strip of links-land and, when the tide is high, the course turns into an island.
This has some very interesting effects. You walk across the beach to get from the clubhouse to the course so, when the water comes calling, the former cannot be reached by car.
Both the 8th and the 9th holes, a 494-yard par 5 and a 404-yard par 4, are also affected by the tides and, while it will almost certainly be a great feeling to play the course in those conditions, you get the feeling a single sleeve of balls might not be quite enough.
The great golf writer, Bernard Darwin, described Brancaster as being “wonderfully peaceful” and with a “distinct charm and character of its own”.
Today that calm remains and it starts from the moment you make a call to arrange a trip to the course.
Three’s a crowd
The club has strict limits on visitor numbers – although they are very welcome.
This is said to moderate levels to “ensure the playing experience is enjoyable for members and visitors alike”.
Unusually, only twoballs are allowed out on the course and those who get a tee time are encouraged to follow the members’ standard of playing foursomes.
Slow play may be a problem across the game generally, but not at Royal West Norfolk. Most rounds take three hours.