Whoever it was said that golf was a good walk spoiled never played a round on some of the lovely courses we have here in Norfolk.
There are lots of opportunities right on our doorstep, and as most are on the coast you get some of the most spectacular views as you play. The nearest club to Winterton is the Great Yarmouth and Caister Golf Club, which winds its way around the racecourse – making for some interesting obstacles. The course is the oldest in Norfolk, founded in 1882 by a Doctor Thomas Browne who decided that the land would be perfect for a course. He got permission and called a meeting that August to get the ball rolling. Nobody turned up. Undeterred, Dr Browne declared himself Hon. Secretary, Treasurer, Committee and Captain and the first match was played later that month.
Caister is also where the term ‘bogey’ comes from. In 1890, a member at Coventry Golf Club came up with the idea of playing a match under handicap against the number of shots a scratch golfer would take playing perfect golf – playing against the course rather than another player. When Dr Browne heard about this he introduced the idea to the members at Caister. Round about the same time as the competitions were gaining in popularity, a music hall song “Hush! Here comes the bogey man” was also popular. (Here’s a link to a recording of it made in the 1930s, if you’d like a listen... it’s a catchy little number).
During one of these competitions one of the players said to Dr Browne: “This player of yours is a regular bogey man”. Dr Browne liked the sound of this and the score of one over the ground score became known as the bogey score. When par was introduced, scores which were one over the par for the course were still known as a bogey and bogey competitions are still held at many courses. You can book tee times by calling 01493 728699.
Sheringham and Cromer are not too far away and both are also clifftop courses with wonderful views and some tricky holes, thanks to gorse bushes and cliff edges. The Royal Cromer Golf Club was founded in 1888 and enjoyed the patronage of the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII. The second oldest club in Norfolk, it admitted lady players right from the start and was extremely popular with the landed gentry from all over the country.
Nowadays the club welcomes all visitors any day of the week from 9.30am and you can book your tee times online. Sheringham’s course has been described as one of the best kept secrets in golf and is often included in lists of the best 100 courses in the country. Visitors can book tee times in advance on 01263 823488.
A bit nearer is Mundesley – another clifftop course – which dates back to 1901. During the second world war much of the course was taken back for agricultural use and was redesigned... it may be short (only nine holes and 18 tees) but it is fierce and a challenge for even the best golfers.
The other side of Great Yarmouth is Gorleston Golf Club – the most easterly course in the British Isles. Sitting on the cliffs towards Hopton, it is an undulating course where we used to go sledging in the snowy winters of our childhoods – probably much frowned upon but great fun! The base of the cliff is an ideal place to collect golf balls...Visitors are promised a warm welcome on the course and in the clubhouse. More details here.
If you’re not an experienced player but fancy having a go, Norfolk Premier Golf at Blofield, on the way to Norwich, offers the opportunity for experts and first-timers, a state-of-the-art driving range and a nine hole course – the 20-20 of golf, they tell us. There’s also Pirates Adventure Golf, which is hugely popular with golfers, and those who just like to swing a club in a more swashbuckling manner.
And as you’d expect, Great Yarmouth seafront has lots of crazy and adventure golf courses – pirate and jungle themes galore! – as well as a pitch and putt course at Bure Park, on Caister Road on the way in to town.
If you’re a golf fan you might not like to leave your other half on their own while you hit the course, so what about a course that also offers a spa? At Caldecott Hall in Fritton (a 15 mile drive away) there are two courses – one specifically for beginners and inexperienced players – and a luxurious spa. One of you can golf, the other can enjoy being pampered – or why not do both? After all, you are on holiday. You deserve some time at the 19th...