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THE TIDE IS HIGH!


Royal West Norfolk Golf Club has a postal address of King’s Lynn but is, as the crow flies, closer to Skegness on the other side of the Wash. It is a unique course in many ways, not least that the tide has a huge effect on getting to and from the golf course.


Our editor wades in to meet Head Greenkeeper, Gavin Playford R


oyal West Norfolk Golf Club was founded in 1892. Little has changed in the last one hundred years both out on the course and in the clubhouse. It was laid out by Horace Hutchinson and Holcombe Ingleby, both notables of their time. Horace was later to become both Mayor and Member of Parliament for King’s Lynn whilst Holcombe was a keen sportsman and journalist who became the first golf editor for Country Life.


The course has a traditional links layout and measures 6457 yards, par71. There are two clubs who use the course - The Royal West Norfolk and the Brancaster Village (Artisans). The reason for this is that the land on which the course was laid out belonged to the Lord of the Manor and common rights existed over it, allowing locals grazing rights. When Royal West Norfolk was first founded it was agreed that there would be a separate club for people living in the village and the neighbouring village of Brancaster Staithe. Brancaster Village is affiliated to the Artisan Golfers Association, which itself is affiliated to the EGU. It is now the only Artisan club left in Norfolk.


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The village club has forty-seven members and they have full use of the course, with priority on Sunday’s until 9.00am, but cannot use the clubhouse facilities.


Both clubs have a good relationship and there are two annual matches between the mens and ladies sections of each club.


If that’s not confusing enough, the


Royal West Norfolk is usually referred to, and is better known, as Brancaster Golf Club for no other reason than it is just easier to say or write Brancaster! Being close to the sea is usually a


prerequisite of a links course but, in the case of Brancaster, the sea gets a little too close!


The tide causes a fairly unique


problem when the approach road gets covered by the incoming water. This occurs about every two weeks and lasts from between five to seven days. The road is flooded one hour before and between one to three hours after high water depending on the size of the tide. All staff and visitors live by the local tide tables, where any tide above 8.2 metres measured in Hull’s Albert Dock will cover the road. North winds can also


hold the tide in longer. Visitors and staff can only reach the golf club by foot via the beach bank whilst the road is flooded. This is about a twenty minute walk from the village where cars are left. It can be a real problem when


arranging deliveries as companies don’t normally give a time, although most of their regular suppliers always check before coming to make sure that they can get to the club okay!


During the late 80s early 90s the course was periodically getting flooded from the marsh on the south side even though there was a floodbank. The tide could get over the floodbank but not back and this ended up killing large areas of grass on the 7th fairway. Reseeding was carried out and, just as it was recovering, the tide came over again! So, the club gained permission from English Nature, the National Trust, the Parish Council and Common Right Holders to raise the flood banks. This was done and has restricted flooding from the marsh, but Head Greenkeeper, Gavin Playford, says who knows where it will break through next?


Whilst the tide is a golfing quirk of


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