Royal West Norfolk Golf Club Course Review

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

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 (opens in new tab)

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. It also heads the Golf Monthly list of the best golf courses in Norfolk.

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)
(Image credit: 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)
(Image credit: 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)
(Image credit: 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.

 

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf


Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response