Royal West Norfolk

Royal West Norfolk

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

Like Royal North Devon, Prestwick and the Old Course at St Andrews, Royal West Norfolk is simultaneously both a links course and a museum piece.

Its simple design should be studied by any budding architect and those with even a passing interest in the game’s past. Separated from the mainland at high tide, the course occupies a narrow strip of land between Brancaster Bay and salt marshes.

From the homely and deceptively sturdy old clubhouse, you must walk across a strip of beach to find the 1st tee, where the signage confirms that this is a twoballs course, with threes only at the secretary’s express permission and fours unheard of.

Much of the play here is foursomes, and the members consider that three hours is ample for 18 holes. They are of course correct. The links was designed by one Holcombe Ingleby, a former mayor of Kings Lynn, and opened in 1892.

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A Brief History of Royal West Norfolk Golf Club

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club opened in 1892, making it one of the earliest golf clubs in England, with its course designed by Holcombe Ingleby. The club's original course layout was unique in that it featured nine holes out and nine holes back, running along the coastal marshes and sand dunes.

In 1895, the club received the "Royal" designation from the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII. Since then, it has been known as the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club.

Over the years, the golf course has undergone various changes and improvements, with architects like James Braid and Herbert Fowler contributing to its design.

The Royal West Norfolk Golf Club has hosted various regional and national championships, attracting golfers from all over the UK. While it may not be as well-known as some of the other top British golf courses, it is highly regarded for its natural beauty and challenging links play.

Today, the course is an 18-hole links course that stretches along the scenic coastline of Norfolk and rightly places in the top UK golf courses.

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club Review | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

Like the Old Course at St Andrews, there is often lots of room from the tee, so much so that it can be disorientating. But again like the Old Course, careful positioning is the key to having the best angle into the greens, many of which are protected by Brancaster’s trademark sleepered bunkers.
If the front nine is longer on the scorecard, the reality is that the back nine is where the men are distinguished from the boys. The furthest point from the clubhouse is the 9th green, after which you turn into the prevailing wind and things get decidedly more testing.
Brown and fast in the summer, this is old-fashioned golf, with little in the way of rough but reeds and marshland awaiting anything wild. Separated from the mainland at high tide, the course occupies a narrow strip of land between Brancaster Bay and salt marshes.

Some of the holes are straightforward enough; others are devilishly difficult. Take the 3rd, probably the best hole on the course, if not among the prettiest.
Out of bounds is up the right but anyone playing left for safety will find themselves effectively snookered, with the firm, elevated green sitting beyond the deepest bunker on the course. Then there is the 8th, on the scorecard an utterly innocuous par 5 of less than 500 yards. It is also downwind.
The problem is, the tee, fairway and green are effectively on three different islands, with marshland between each stage. The fairway is set across the line of play, so you have to judge a line of attack, making sure you carry to the fairway but don’t run off the other side. The stronger the wind, the more ticklish a job this is.

Get your angles right and you could be coming in with a short iron, miscalculate and a lost ball is the most likely outcome. Then comes the 9th, probably the prettiest hole, and certainly the one with most unusual green site, across more marshland and divorced from the rest of the course with views of the harbour of Brancaster Staithe.
Turning for home, the 11th plays way longer than its yardage while the green at the 12th appears to be on a plateau that on closer inspection reveals itself be a raised hollow, if that is not a contradiction in terms.
Equally outrageous is the 14th, the hardest hole on the inward nine where the long second shot must clear an inconvenient hill before rolling down to the bowl-shaped green.
Over a drink in the wonderfully atmospheric clubhouse – the views from upstairs are sensational – and presuming there is no imminent danger of the tide coming in to maroon you from the mainland, you may wish to have a second look at that scorecard, and its matter-of-fact statement that the inward half is a mere 3,048 yards.
Then, in an ideal world, head back out for a second round in the hope that forewarned really is forearmed.

How much does it cost to play Royal West Norfolk?

There are no listed green fees on the Royal West Norfolk website, however they have information on how to book a session to play. Upon arranging a booking, you will be given a price. They also specify some terms for those wishing to book a tee-time:
  • You must hold a current WHS handicap
  • They will not take reservations at weekends or during the month of August
  • Three and Fourball play is not permitted
  • Playing singles is possible, but at a premium

Where is Royal West Norfolk located?

The Royal West Norfolk Golf Club is located on the north coast of Norfolk, near the village of Brancaster. The golf course is known for its coastal links setting and stunning views of the North Sea.

The club is located close to Brancaster Beach, a beautiful sandy beach along the North Norfolk coast. It's a great place for a stroll, picnics, and water activities and if you're a golf enthusiast, you might also consider playing at Hunstanton, which is not too far from Brancaster.

Norwich Airport is the nearest for international visitors to the region, based about an hour away to the south east from Royal West Norfolk. London Luton, London Stansted, London Heathrow and East Midlands Airports are all within three hours from the course.

Visit Royal West Norfolk's website here.
Go back to the NCG Top 100s Homepage.