Sheringham Golf Club, 29th May 2017
It is showing off to have a railway as you leave the road to drive up to the course. Admittedly it was a half term Bank Holiday Monday but there seemed to be an awful lot of railway children and trains keeping us from our tee time.
But what an enchanting introduction with two great opening holes; one running up Skelding Hill and the next swooshing back down to the edge of town before a climb to the third tee. This is perched on the cliff top edge with a lido and promenade behind you. And as you catch your breath rising up parallel to the cliff path over two holes you bridge the saddle of Skelding and the reason you came here.
From the fifth you see most of the course below you. True much of it is open with the most links like land in the further reaches . But it is the tee shot at 5. A drive is required across a valley to a fairway laid sideways on with bunkers on the optimum line and the sea ready to embrace anything grandiose. A wondrous view even on the dull day we were there. Difficult but not impossible; one of us followed the conventional route the others scarcely touched the green keepers domain before reaching the green. But actually the second shot from the fairway after a decent drive was possibly more alarming with the cliffs on one side and a grassy ravine on the other. Otherwise makeable putts were missed to record bogeys. A fair result.
There followed a great many holes easily recalled which in a week of 108 variations is a credit to them. Despite a drop of the soft stuff and a ruffling breeze on a dull day the course was in excellent condition with greens you could put your money on. We appreciated that it’s teeth were politely not bared. Those we met were most welcoming and it is clearly a much loved club.
This blog is throwing up all sorts of questions: What is a links course? What external elements are desirable? Is a church, a railway, or a lifeboat station a marker. Today I hope to start to answer the question: What is a Gunner and what is a HillBilly?
A non alcoholic thirst quencher is the first requirement after a round of golf. Ginger beer, soda, lime cordial and Angostura Bitters is my kind of Gunner but you can go with ginger beer and a ginger ale or add lemonade instead of soda if you have a sweet tooth. A HillBilly, in my view, is much the same but with grapefruit instead of ginger.
At Brancaster the Gunner is made with ginger at Royal St George’s the HillBilly is made with grapefruit. At Rye they have pre-mixed decanters of lime cordial and Angostura bitters for their Gunners. At Sheringham they call my Gunners a Rock Soda and a HillBilly a Gunner. Very confusing. A chap needs to know where he stands. Especially if you don't like grapefruit. Who is right? I have an appointment with the Steward at Brancaster in June and will seek his guidance. It was my only beef with Sheringham, once I had decided it was a links.
It was the best golfing course of these three. The whole weekend was organised by two golfing sons and an understanding daughter as a birthday present. And the real pleasure was spending the weekend with them. We stayed in a fabulous B&B, The Old Rectory in Campsea Ash. We ate a superb dinner at The Lighthouse in Aldeburgh which afforded us the chance to walk along the seafront and appreciate everything that the area had to offer. The only shame was not having more time to do so not that I want both my readers to feel guilty about the sacrifices I make for them.