Packed with character and more than a little bit different, Brancaster’s rugged links is a wonderful golfing experience from start to finish

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 – 60

Previous Rankings
2019/20 – 54
2017/18 – 47
2015/16 – 47
2013/14 – 45
2011/12 – 44
2009/10 – 44

Summer Green Fees

Round: £70wd foursomes, £100wd singles

Visitor Times: Weekdays and twoballs only. No visitors at weekends or during August

Medal Tee: Par 71 – 6,457 Yards

Website: www.rwngc.org

Changes since previous ranking

No significant changes advised.

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club Course Review

Regularly cut off by the tide, Royal West Norfolk or Brancaster on the north-west Norfolk coast is unique in more ways than one.

This rugged links is the perfect antidote to modern corporate golf – if you like your links golf old-school and ‘au naturel’, Brancaster will be right up your street.

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club

Holes like the 9th can be a different proposition when the tide is in (Photo: Getty Images)

Related: Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland

Laid out in 1892 by Holcombe Ingleby, a prominent and popular politician, relatively little has changed in the intervening 119 years.

Of course, the ‘naturalness’ of this spit of marshland twixt field and sea is part of its charm and appeal, with the par-5 8th and par-4 9th playing very differently at high tide when there’s water to cross on both.

A little bit different

Stepping out of the quirky old clubhouse, you cross a section of beach to reach the 1st tee. Out on the links, in the shelter of the low dunes, there’s a great feeling of tranquillity and this is a course where pure golfing escapism is possible.

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club

Brancaster is a ruggedly natural links (Photo: Getty Images)

Brancaster is an out-and-back links delivering an excellent test of seaside golf, with the prevailing wind helping on the way out and hurting on the run for home.

You’ll encounter great variety and some uniquely memorable holes among the sleepered bunkers, elevated greens, salt marshes and sand dunes.

The 3rd and 4th, with their sleepered bunkers and banks, stand out early on, while the blind drive on the 5th will leave you coming over the crest full of anticipation or trepidation depending on where you’ve hit it.

You’ll find the two toughest par 3s – the 6th and 15th – play a similar distance in broadly the same direction, so club one right and you’ll probably get the other one right too.

It could be anything from an 8-iron to a 3-wood, mind you, and both greens will be pretty elusive into the wind.

It’s probably fair to say that Royal West Norfolk provides a golfing experience like no other.

Royal West Norfolk Golf Club

Looking across the 18th green to the old-school clubhouse (Photo: Getty Images)

At just 6,457 yards, it’s only of modest length, but with the wind perpetually whipping in off the sea and the golfer always open to every element, you’ll need to have your wits about you to score well.

It’s also one of few courses, if not the only one, to offer a reduced rate for foursomes golf. How much demand there is for that, who knows! But it’s there if you want it.

Assessor Feedback

Royal West Norfolk really should be on every player’s bucket list. It feels like everything from the clubhouse to the course has been left untouched for a century and, in my opinion, it’s all the better for it as it provides a unique and authentic experience that is hard to find these days.

Having only played it once I did so with gay abandon. My next visit will be filled with far more apprehension. I think risk and reward was invented at Brancaster.

GM Verdict

Packed with character and more than a little bit different, Brancaster’s rugged links is a wonderful golfing experience from start to finish.