Burnham & Berrow

Words by: James Wilson
Photography by:Jack Ducey

The forecast looked bleak.

The 3 hour drive from London was morphing from a ride toward adventure, to a death march into the rain. My enthusiasm wavered.

We arrived on the Thursday evening to a concerningly puddle laden car park and rushed into the clubhouse for shelter.

A warm welcome awaited. Dark wood panelling, well stocked trophy cabinets and a television with Tiger Woods playing Riviera Country Club (pre withdrawal), my glumness abated.

We ordered some food and settled into a comfy chair. Tiger hit shanks in the Los Angeles sunshine as the rain pattered off the north facing clubhouse windows.

We spent the evening in the comfortable rooms of the Dormy House, just a stones throw from the front door of the clubhouse and awoke the next morning to an overcast but dry forecast. My enthusiasm surfaced again.

From the first tee the wind whipped over the dunes ahead of us, I reached to my bag for another layer of clothing.

The opening three holes are inspiring in layout and beastly in difficulty. The perfect proposition for a sadistic ex pro still eager to find out if he can play.

A very brief bit of respite in the par 5 4th takes you onto a 200 yard par 3 surrounded by bunkers directly into a fearsome breeze. I placed my hand on the head of my 3 iron and exhaled.

Eventually the sun broke through the clouds and my limbs began to feel nimble. We stormed round to the newly designed 9th hole where the sea crashes onto the beach behind as the wind carries you downhill to the raised green.

The 10th starts back toward the clubhouse on the inland side of the course, a quirky blind tee shot that reveals the next 2 holes from its peak. A stoic St Mary’s church lies in the distance.

As we headed south the wind aided us from the right, perfect for a well tuned draw. Challenging holes sweep through the egg box moguls revealing pins through the gaps. Despite some puddles on the low lying areas the greens remained untouched by the previous nights affliction.

Eventually we escaped the breeze and headed back into the haven of the clubhouse. An exceptional lunch chosen from a range of British classics fuelled our journey back to the city.

Since hanging up my full time playing obligations, I try to avoid playing in adverse conditions (the cuffs of my cream trousers might get dirty).

On this occasion I braved it, and was quickly vindicated for my decision. The sun squeezed through the clouds and the wind gradually faded.

But had the heavens opened and the apocalypse itself begun, my experience at Burnham and Berrow would not have been jeopardised. The course is amazing, so much so that it is home to Open Qualifying later in the year. But the rolling dunes only tell part of the story. From the second we arrived, the hospitality was unparalleled. Members were talkative (but not in the annoying way), staff were helpful (and talented golfers themselves), management who reside on site to check in on guests and members were attentive and welcoming.

The value of Burnham and Berrow isn’t just in the course, there’s far more to it than that.

There’s a sense of unpretentious pride so rare amongst the Top 100 golfing venues in the country. A sense of community around the world class golf course on their doorstep, and an enthusiasm for inviting people in to experience it. The feeling submerges the place, from the clubhouse lounge, to the Dormy House, to that god forsaken water hazard to the right of the 7th.