Staycation Golf – Try Dunston Hall Golf & Spa in the beautiful Norfolk Countryside
In these strange times where Covid 19 has put the brakes on travelling to the main parts of Europe to play Golf without having to quarantine for 14 days we are all left with trying to find alternatives closer to home.
Suffolk Village Info was asked to check-out what a short break to the Dunston Hall Golf & Spa Hotel just down the road from Norwich could offer.
We were invited with a small media group to play 36 holes at Dunston Hall on September 16th & 17th which included a light lunch prior to playing 18 holes on Wednesday followed by Dinner in the superb Brasserie restaurant, an overnight stay and another 18 holes after a full English breakfast on the next day.
Left to Right: Ian, Josh, Dan & Harriet
The invited media group included Ian Duncan Managing Director Suffolk Village Info, Josh Abbott PR and marketing executive for the golf marketing and PR Company The Azalea Group, Harriet Shephard, Editor of Women & Golf, the national online magazine for ladies golf and Dan Moxon Chief Reporter for Archant Community Media Limited the regional newspaper group.
Dunston Hall is part of the Almarose Group. Almarose Hotels & Resorts is the hotel management arm of Aprirose, which was formed following the acquisition of QHotels. They own 20 hotels, 7 of which are Golf resort Hotels such as Dunston Hall, Slaley Hall and Belton Woods.
We were warmly welcomed to the impressive 166 room Elizabethan Style mansion, a spectacular English country house, by Alan Foley, Director of Golf & Spa Sales for the Almarose group, David Graham, General Manager and Peter Briggs, Director of Golf.
Having played all the Norfolk and Suffolk courses over the last 35 years, embarrassingly, this was the very first time that I had played the Dunston Hall Golf Course and it was the same for my new media friends. This was going to be an exciting adventure but to ease ourselves into the challenge we decided to play from the yellow tees overall 516 yards different from the competition tees. For Harriet Shepherd the course from the Ladies tees measures 5194 yards.
At 6179 yards from the White Tees Dunston Hall is not a long course but what it loses in length is more than compensated by the individual challenges of each hole. With either tree lined fairways, doglegs or well positioned water features, every hole is different and presents its own danger.
Every hole is different and I believe that is the real appeal of the course.
The first hole is 335 yards with a sharp dogleg left at about 200 yards, water to the right, and a pond to the left; you play over the ditch to a green that has another pond to the right of the green. A quirky challenging start if you do not know the course.
There are 3 reasonable length par 5 holes and 4 par 3’s of which the two on the front 9 are over 200 yards from the white tees.
The closing 4 holes can really ruin or make your round, a real challenge for all standards of golfing abilities.
At 584 yards the 15th hole is a tough a tight driving hole downhill to start, with a lake at 210 yards stretching to 300 yards on the right from the tee and out of bounds on the left then back uphill to the green which nestles in amongst the trees protected by bunkers at the front.
The 16th holes is stroke index 1 a par 4 that is 425 yards long, another tight tree lined drive downhill to the green that is protected by a large lake. A good straight drive and you are left with a dilemma “do I go for glory or do I lay up”? If you are as wild off the tee as I am you might find an easier root down back down the 15th avoiding players coming up the 15th by shouting FORE as loud as you can but make sure you are well insured. I hit drive and a six iron which left me a short sand wedge to the green totally avoiding the lake, which I hit to four foot and came off with a 4. I couldn’t repeat it the next day though, I hit the trees and lost my ball.
The 17th a good par 5 with a wide fairway you can give the ball a solid whack with your driver and you will be in with a chance of a par. You then you come to the picturesque par 3 18thwith the magnificent back drop of the hotel and patio area. 184 yards over a large pond inhabited by majestic swans a really great finishing hole.
Following our round we sat down with Director of Golf Peter Briggs and had a smashing meal chosen from an extensive menu in the Brasserie restaurant and then retired to the bar before retiring to our good sized rooms with all the comforts you would expect from a 4 star hotel. Prior to our next round we returned to the Brasserie for a substantial breakfast a choice of hot or cold from a buffet area.
As first timers to the course we were experimenting all the way round on day one and all vowed to improve the next day and we all did.
Overall the course is really interesting, the greens, surrounds and fairways are very well kept considering how dry a summer we have had and the bunkers although working within the covid rules with no raking were very consistent. There is an excellent practice area, driving range and putting green as well as a Spa and Health Club
Our opinion that this venue is an excellent venue to visit, the 4 star Hotel is impressive and the staff and management ensure that is a particularly friendly place to enjoy a break with playing golf at the heart of the visit. It is ideal for all standards of golf
In terms of the dreaded Covid 19 it hardly raised its ugly head with the Hotel and course 99% full everybody was following the guidance of wearing masks in public areas as well as social distancing we had a great time and would not hesitate in returning very soon.
Try it, you will not be disappointed.
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