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  • Neil White


“Windy? This is just a gentle breeze,” smirked the chap behind the counter in the Hunstanton professional’s shop.

I think he was having a jape at our expense, given that we later encountered two locals who had given up on their Thursday morning round because they could no longer tolerate the gale.

And it needs no guessing which way around it was blowing when I recorded a front nine of 23 Stableford points, playing off a 13 handicap, and a measly nine on the second half.

Nevertheless, I am delighted to report that, even in November and with hollow tining on the greens having very recently taken place, Hunstanton was in terrific condition.

Hunstanton is a lovely little seaside town and we had taken a walk to its golf club the previous evening, snapping photos as the sunset.

The following day, after having received a warm welcome and watched England’s cricket team storm to a World Cup semi-final win in its splendidly comfortable clubhouse, we togged up and commenced battle with the elements.

The first hole looks more intimidating than it is. The truth is that the sandscape and tangly rough directly in eyeline should never come into play if the tee shot is hit even half well.

This was my first realisation of how strong the “gentle breeze” was because, with it full behind, my drive flew down the fairway, leaving a sand wedge into the green.

The opening holes are a gradual introduction to Hunstanton but its drama unfolds on the sixth – a short but dramatic par-four with deep fairway and greenside bunkers.

Its green is a narrow slither with steep roll-offs on either side. Twice, poor Mrs W putted just past the hole only to see her ball gather pace and roll ten yards off the green.

The seventh is a cracking Irish-style par-three, framed by substantial dunes and protected by a giant bunker.

Dogs fought as we awaited our second shot on the par-five eighth. I am not kidding. A public footpath with ditches either side, crosses the course and two mutt-walkers mutually glared as their hounds snapped at each other.

Clearly, I must have been in a rush to get out of the fracas because my drilled second shot was 20 yards short and a neat chip and putt completed a rather lovely birdie.

The 10th, with bunkers to right of the fairway and water to the left was a gentle introduction to the second nine because it was downwind.

However, the ‘fun’ began on the 11th – a 423-yard par-four with a long carry rough on either side of the fairway. This was straight into the gale and took four shots to reach.

The 13th is a heck of a hole – going straight up before a long approach into a green defended by small grassy dunes and rough. It is a hole which would need playing several times to understand correct club selection.

“Please don’t forget to oscillate the pole on the blind par-three 14th,” had been our instruction in the pro’s shop. Apparently, this shows golfers on the tee whether the green has been vacated.

What he hadn’t said was exactly how this oscillation works. Inevitably, in the howling wind, the only thing which was oscillated was me and my golf trolley.

The famous par-three 16th looks doable from the elevated tee looking down on the sunken target, surrounded by bunkers with The Wash in the distance.

However, I didn’t succeed, thinning my tee shot and then mucking up a chip and putts across the slopes and dips of a giant green.

The long curving 17th with its plateaued putting surface would have been tough enough but against a strengthening squall, I found it impossible, thankfully recovering my powers for the sublime 18th, a cracking home hole towards a raised green with bunkers on either side.

As the last putt sank, it was 15 minutes before the kitchen closed, so we wearily trudged into the clubhouse for a warm, some more cheery smiles and much-needed nourishment.

Despite the weather, Hunstanton gave us a special day and we would certainly want to return when the weather is a tad calmer.

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