Set on handsome yellow sandstone cliffs squeezed between the North Sea and the North Norfolk Railway, it is understandable that Sheringham Golf Club should be popular with tourists. For steam train enthusiasts, the North Norfolk Railway is pure joy. After being rebuilt, the line was opened to the public in 1975 using steam and diesel engines. The NNR was recently reconnected to the main line station at Sheringham via a restored level crossing. Covering about 5 miles, the line runs from Sheringham to Holt, both towns being tourist attractions. The NNR Station is well worth a visit as it is a museum of sorts. When next in the area I fully intend to board the NNR!
Tom Dunn laid out the course during two visits in the 1890s, but additional land acquired in 1904 set the stage for a redesign by person(s) unknown to me. This is a great shame for whoever designed Sheringham made a fine job of it. In its early days Sheringham was known for being beastly long, but topping out at 6546 clearly demonstrates this is no longer the case. There was much scuttlebutt among one playing partner that the greens were likely flattened at some point in the evolution of Sheringham, but knowing Dunn was the original architect makes me doubt this is the case. Be that is it may, the current greens do not hold much interest. It must also be noted, like Berkampsted in far off Hertfordshire, the par 3s are inexplicably and inexcusably dull. Balanced against these shortcomings is a fine and diverse set of two-shotters highlighted by the magnificent 5th.
The start to Sheringham is both very good and an intriguing mix of holes. Without including a par 3, the collection of holes includes two drivable par 4s, a bit of a breather par 4, a mercilesss par 4 and reachable par 5. With bunkers lining the right side of the fairway, cutting the corner of the short dogleg left is a tough ask for opening gambit of the day. Of course, the green opens up from the middle to right half of the fairway. The photo is from a spot which just covers the short left bunker.
A reachable par 5, #2 does have a few tricks up its sleeve with very dangerous OOB down the right, brought more into play by the hard sloping left to right fairway, and hidden pits down the middle.
#3 plays along the cliffside of the property and also features hidden bunkers which are very reachable with a driver. The 4th is a very clever short two-shotter. At 315 yards along firm ground many will be tempted to have a go despite a pair of bunkers positioned in a manner which cannot be ignored. What can't be seen is the severe drop off right toward gorse green high. Options abound on this little cracker.
One cannot rightly say the heroic 5th is unfair, but perhaps it is unreasonable. I say this because once a very good drive is negotiated, the fairway doesn't offer a straight path to the green which is partially tucked behind a large ridge. To make matters worse, the double dogleg fairway leans left! The bottom line is the best angle into the green is 20 yards or so left of the middle of the fairway...in the rough. Be that as it may, I am one to believe that every course needs controversy and a few holes on which only the best of shots will be rewarded...this is certainly the case here.
We finally encounter a par 3 at the 6th, but for my money this long drop shot hole is, much like the entire set of short holes, lacking inspiration. In truth, the weak point of the course is the stretch from 6-8, so let us make a beeline for 9. There is a sucker play blind over the right bunker. It isn't that the carry is onerous, but sand protects the right flank of the green. Hit a drive down the middle and one can bounce a fairly short iron into the sunken green. Shackelford is deep into gamesmanship by fiddling with his spanners.
A longish par 4, the 10th threads a mess of bunkers before the uphill approach.
The best short hole follows, but the 11th wouldn't make a lasting impression for most.
Sheringham does a good job of turning play around on such a thin property. 3-7 are along the cliffs with 15-18 along the railway line. All the other holes move back and forth down the middle of the hilly property. All good holes, 12-14 cover the final run away from the house. The longest of the three holes, 12 is an attractive drive turning a bit right then heading slightly uphill.
The 13th is quite short, but gorse protecting the optimum line down the right adds prick to the hole. The 14th is visually confusing with bunkers slashing into the fairway from the left and an obscured fairway line down the right. The fairway is narrow, but there is no scenario where the safer right side has an easier approach.
Any hole location on the right of the green is well guarded by front right bunkers.
The 15th makes the turn for home with a mid-length par 3. It is the last three holes which hold promise. After driving over an old quarry a cluster of bunkers awaits the long ball. The green aids a running pitch, but it is difficult to ascertain the correct weight.
OOB in the guise of the railway line threatens down the right, but there is plenty of space to ease a drive down the left. As on 16, a pack of bunkers will threaten flat bellies banging away.
The uphill approach.
The home hole takes us blindly over a ridge and hard beside OOB right. The previous two holes canted left, 18 slopes toward the trouble. There is a great bunker well beyond the crest of the rise, but it is the runaway green which may give pause.
The house as seen from the second fairway.
Sheringham has a certain undeniable charm even if there are a handful of tedious holes. My game confirms Sheringham's smart reputation for offering firm and fast conditions. Without question the highlight has to be the 5th, undoubtably one of the outstanding holes in England. The setting is pretty as a postcard and the strong group of supporting holes is impressive even if some are punctuated by a rather placid set of greens. For sure, if one is invited for a game or finds himself in North Norfolk, Sheringham makes a fine campanion for Hunstanton and Brancaster. 2015