I’m not sure there would be too many courses where I’d be curious enough to bear a 4am start and a five-hour drive. But Burnham & Berrow is one. As a self-confessed links nut, I’ve been drawn to those images of huge sand hills and the holes Harry Colt cut out of the dunes when he redesigned the course in the 1910s.
So when the opportunity presented, I jumped out of bed and raced down to the car. But what did I find?
What can we expect from Burnham & Berrow?
If you enjoy your golf best on sandy terrain, this is basically all of your dreams come true. The sand hills and dune complexes are enormous and the fairways – if you can hit them that is – are on the gloriously firm linksland that makes playing this kind of golf such an experience.
You’re going to get good and bad bounces. If you find the bunkers don’t expect to advance it too far, while the greens – which come in all weird shapes and sizes here (long, square, well-bunkered, hollowed) – will both delight and torment you.
Variety is the thing that really keeps you interested. Whether it’s the opening hole with a fairway that narrows into a sliver on the landing zone (I didn’t hit it), the no-go mounds that hug the right of the 4th or, even the pond that really shouldn’t be in play but just catches the eye on the 6th, there’s always something to think about.
That front half dozen holes are as good as anywhere in Britain, and the climax isn’t far behind, either.
What were your favourite holes?
That closing stretch, starting with two par 4s 100 yards apart in terms of distance, a brutal, but beautiful par 3, and a 447-yard closer that bends left from the middle of the fairway and demands a pinpoint iron to find the heart of the green, is outstanding.
But I’m a sucker for a sea view and a short hole. The scene across the Bristol Channel from the elevated tee of the 4th is worthy of any cliché, as is the feeling when you find the fairway from on high on this gentle left-to-right par 5 dogleg.
The par 3s are phenomenal and the pick is the 9th. The relatively new tee, which again puts you on a perch, allows you to survey what is a pretty heroic shot.
With six bunkers round the green, most sunk into the slopes, you need to pure one to find the centre of the putting surface.
Tell us about your best bit…
With the heavy, driving, rain and gusting winds proving such a formidable force throughout, birdies were clearly in short supply.
But I still managed to come off the 7th, the 449-yard par 4 stroke index 1, with a par on my card and that was no mean feat.
It was hardly conventional, either. I tugged my drive, could only chop out my second, and watched my third slide off the ridge to the left of the green.
The greens here, though, are so true you can pick a line and feel pretty confident about giving it a decent hit. My putt was a left to right breaker and it rolled right into the centre of the cup.
For an awful bunker player, stiffing it out of the deep trap that guards the front of the par 3 5th was also a notable high.
Will you do anything different next time?
Apart from bring some waterproof trousers? I’d like to drive the ball better. Given the way the prevailing wind blows, I’d also be a bit more aggressive on parts of the front nine.
I was happy rolling along in handicap on that outward stretch but, as I watched the driver stall at 180 in the teeth of the gales on the way back, it occurred that you have to start well and hang on here.
But there will definitely be a next time. Was Burnham-and-Berrow worth the wait? You bet it was.
Finally, where is Burnham & Berrow?
Just over 30 miles from Bristol, skirt Weston-super-Mare and you’ll find the course right in the heart of Burnham-on-Sea.
For more, visit their website.
Have you played Burnham & Berrow? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me.
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