If 2020 has taught us anything, looking closer to home rather than at those blocked travel routes is now a must for that much needed golf-break to deal with the urges of getting away with the pals for the guaranteed fun times with the golfing gang.
Just ten miles from the centre of the city of Norwich is the 36-hole golf facility at Barnham Broom – I have returned recently to get the full picture on and off of the golf courses.
The resort ticks a lot of boxes that are essential to what we are all looking for; classy accommodation, 36 holes of golf including many warm-up options, varied dining choices, health & fitness at the highest level and the indulgence of the spa!
You can cram a lot into a two-day, one-night break at Barnham without feeling too rushed as everything is close to hand – restaurants, rooms, gym, pool, tennis & squash courts and the courses are all just around the corner.
My visit started in the extensive Sports Bar and in fact on the sun-terrace during the elongated 2020 summer for the classic golfer’s lunch of ham, egg and chips (other menu options are available) – wot a start! I think within thirty minutes of arriving, that beautiful settled in feeling kicked in.
After a brief warm up, it was time to take on the Valley course – I played here in April 2019 and after that round had no problem in recommending that the course should appear in the Norfolk county rankings on the Top 100 Golf Courses website; my player review words from then are still very valid now. The course is good but has the potential to be very good with some extra love and the obvious financial injection that is needed to see plans come to fruition. The word from the resort is that the funds are there, so these next few years should be very exciting indeed. The standout holes on the front nine are the par-4 3rd, the par-3 4th and the par-4 9th – all brilliantly strategic and have to be played well – these holes give nothing away!
The Valley’s back nine twists and turns with a couple of short par 4’s at the 12th and 16th, exciting par-3’s at the 15th and 17th and basically so much variety across the nine holes. My biggest observation is that the current 18th hole, is in the good but not quite in the very good category as a finishing hole. My suggestion would be to make the current 10th and 11th holes the closing two holes – this would really enhance the ending in my opinion as the 11th (potentially the 18th) is what can be classed as a ‘big’ hole with an approach shot that will test even very best golfers - a round on the Valley is invigorating and definitely golf with a smile on your face.
Without being too predictable and obvious, a couple of cold libations back on the sun terrace is a wonderful way to round off the golf day but in saying that I am sure many/some golfers would at this point be hitting the gym and the range and good luck to them!
After the earlier casual dining in the Sports Bar, the evening meal options step-up in a big way in the The Brasserie – fine dining in a relaxed and stylish atmosphere where you can sample superb local Norfolk produce. Booking essential here as this has become one of the county’s premier restaurants and I can see why.
The day ended with a night cap in the Valley Bar and thoughts now moved to a good night’s sleep and tomorrow’s game on the Hill course.
The breakfast options at Barnham Broom are plentiful and the big decisions are to either go for the smoothy, fruit and juice options (obviously after a two-hour session in the gym and pool) or to sample the cooked choices, which are hugely impressive – I have a feeling you may know which route I took!
The Hill course should not be missed and although I prefer the configuration of the Valley, it's certainly the Hill that has the better green sites and better sand hazards at the greens. The courses starts well and the first five holes are very strong; the 5th being the stand-out. This is a par-5 and the River Yare plays a big part as it is in play for potentially three shots especially at the green with the river wrapping around from the left side.
In places, the Hill course is similar to the Valley with a number of holes on similar ground in the valley. The main identity of The Hill comes with the holes that are on higher ground and there is even a heathland feel to the ground, encouraging those rewarding punch shots from the tight turf.
As a golf venue, Barnham Broom is a winner both on and off of the courses and is understandably popular with members and visiting groups alike. The very strong news coming from within is that in the coming years plans are in place to develop further to make the resort into one of England’s premier golf venues, with the focus being on raising standards to what can only be called ‘country club life’ – there are some exciting times ahead, I think.
Barnham Broom may not be an obvious choice and flies a little under the radar but I would have no problem in endorsing this as a strong golf-break venue right now and the future looks seriously bright. Only a couple of hours from London and also the Midlands, this is well within reach and can also be used as an ideal location as a base to seek out the big hitting coastal courses in Norfolk too.
Golf Today have teamed up with Barnham Broom – book the resort via this link and receive a half bottle of wine with main courses in The Brasserie.
Independent Golf Consultant