Hunstanton: East Anglian magic

However you pronounce it, this Norfolk course is exquisite

Tony Rushmer
Mon, 30 Apr 2012

Some pronounce it Hunston; others refer to its literal spelling as Hunstanton.

Indeed, an enduring debate about the town’s derivation - its proximity to the River Hun or home to honey-coloured, cliff-face rocks - as well as the golf club’s name, has raged for more than a century.

But whatever the pronunciation, this North Norfolk links is one to be respected, admired and - above all - enjoyed. And that it has staged so many prestigious amateur tournaments in the last 100 years speaks volumes.

What the history books don’t convey, however, is that a round at Hunstanton is truly a life-affirming experience. The golf test is high-class – not least the challenging finish – but the discerning golfer will also recognise the craft that has gone into presenting the course and its generally excellent condition.

The thrill of being at this magnificent seaside location is heightened by a clutch of other factors. For starters, your round will be played out to the sound of soaring sky larks. 

The golf…

At 6,368 yards off the yellow tees – or a seriously-testing 6,911 yards off the championship tees - it’s a course that any handicap player who requires a stroke or less per hole will have sufficient game to cope.

The prevailing south-westerly means that much of the front nine is played down-wind and it is here that you are likely to make your score.

As long as you’ve had a couple of looseners in the practice net and a warm-up putt or two, the 324-yard first hole should offer up a safe par – as long as you overcome the gaping chasm of a bunker that stares at you off the tee. The par-5 second is also a good early opportunity.

But it is really from the sixth hole that the fun starts. Around 300 yards off the yellows, it is played uphill to a pinnacle green. Words struggle to convey the scary nature of the wedge approach. If you are short, the ball will come careering back at you - think the 9th at Augusta National - while a ‘wide’ either side to this narrow green will bound away.

There is plenty to like about the par-3s at Hunstanton, including the seventh. The sleepers in the deep sand-trap play on your mind as you ponder club selection and it’s another hole where you need to hold the green as it is flanked by steep fall-offs.

As befits a links course, there are one or two quirky holes. Take the 14th, for example, a 200-yard-plus par-3 that requires a blind tee-shot over a summit. It’s rather amusing – as is the traffic-light system which players need to activate to inform the group behind when it is safe to follow on.

The concluding three holes ensure a suitably memorable end to what is a truly stimulating round. The cleverly bunkered par-3 16th with the sea as a scenic backdrop was aced three days in succession in 1974 by Leicestershire golfer Bob Taylor in the Eastern Counties Foursomes Championship. What odds a repeat in the future, anyone?

The hardest hole on the course is surely the par-4 17th. Measuring 430 yards off the yellow tees, this is an almost impossible par-4 for most players – especially if played into the teeth of the customary sou’-westerly. You need to blast a draw into the left-side of the fairway where the raised spine of dunes that splits much of the two nines will throw your ball back down towards some light rough.

That’s when a career-shot with a fairway wood is called for just to take you to the vicinity of an elevated green with a steep fall-off on the right. It’s a fabulous hole and even a five feels like success for most mere mortals.

Article continues. Click here for Tony’s verdict.



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