Ipswich (Purdis Heath)

Ipswich (Purdis Heath)

Purdis Heath surprises at every turn. For a start, you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find a classic James Braid heathland course as you navigate your way round the eastern outskirts of Ipswich after coming off the A14. Some golf courses get you right in the mood before you have even turned the engine off and Purdis Heath, or Ipswich Golf Club to use its Sunday name, certainly falls into the category. Turn down the driveway and it’s like entering a new world.

You can smell the pines that line many of the fairways at this attractive heathland where changes of elevation add welcome variety and inspire some sensational green complexes.

At 6,431 yards and playing to a par of 71, Purdis Heath is not going to defeat you by length alone. And when you bear in mind that the fairways are almost invariably firm and fast then you can appreciate that this is a course of angles and precision.

Certainly there are some obvious birdie chances, in the shape of a couple of drivable par-4s and some attractive par-3s. With bouncy turf, lots of elevation changes and tricky greens, this is a varied and fun test.

There are also a few blind tee shots, not to mention the blind approach to the green at the par-4 4th. There may be those who are non-plussed by design elements like this. Personally, I treasure such holes, especially when you are playing them for the first time and have the thrill of discovery.

If you don't get it right first time through not knowing, then what better reason to plan a return visit – or another round that evening?

This is not to say that Purdis Heath is an especially quirky course because it isn't. It is, though, rich in character and distinctive.

Walking up the fairways of the tree-lined last two holes with the setting sun creates a picture-perfect finish that lives long in the memory.

There is a theory that the Suffolk courses were under-rated historically and there may be some truth in that. These days, though, the secret is well and truly out of the bag.

Visit Purdis Heath while also calling in at the likes of Aldeburgh, Woodbridge and Thorpeness and you are guaranteed a fine golfing trip indeed.