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Established in 1901, Mundesley is one of North Norfolk’s true golfing gems. Designed with the help of one of the sport’s legends, 6-times Open winner Harry Vardon (1870-1937), it was built on the rolling hillside of the River Mun valley. Today its nine holes, with 18 tees, offer a satisfying challenge to players of all abilities.
In 1903 Vardon had the misfortune to contract tuberculosis, and it was to Mundesley’s sanatorium that he went for treatment. While recuperating in 1904, still at the sanatorium, he ventured along the lane which bisects the course to enjoy a round of golf. Here he experienced his only career hole-in-one, on what is now the sixth, a feat which no doubt contributed to the success of his convalescence.
Harry Vardon’s association with Mundesley Golf Club spanned many years, from consultation in 1900 on the original course design to exhibition matches marking important milestones in the Club’s development. In 1902, he played against the club professional, Richard Kelly, winning 8 up, while in 1924 he and J H Taylor, from what had become known as “the great triumvirate”, were engaged to play an exhibition match, Vardon receiving a fee of £10.10s.
Although the basic contours remain the same, Harry Vardon would probably be hard pressed to recognise many of the holes on today’s course. Both World Wars required some of the layout to be surrendered to farming, entailing much redesign when the conflicts ended, while the changing demands of the game have been met in recent years by a forward-looking management resulting in further alterations. Today’s course, which is free of water hazards, follows a compact path through the hillside with some superb views over the countryside down to Mundesley’s windmill and beyond, while sea views are also encountered on the higher holes. At 5,377 yards (4,917 metres), Mundesley may be relatively short by 21st century standards but it is nevertheless quite a challenge, even to those who play it regularly.
Like many seaside courses, the wind can play a big part in making or breaking a score and those who know Norfolk’s coast can attest that the wind sometimes blows quite hard! Add in a quota of sand traps, liberally but equitably spread around the impeccably maintained fairways and greens, and the result is a course which can test even the best players.
In 1975 the old wooden club house at Mundesley was replaced with a new brick-built structure that today houses changing rooms, a licensed bar and restaurant surrounded by the club’s honours boards and trophies, and a well-stocked pro shop. At the rear of the building is a large terrace, ideal for enjoying a post-game drink and snack in the sunshine while admiring other players’ shots on the two adjacent tees.
The charming coastal village of Mundesley offers a variety of shops, hotels and other places to stay, making it an ideal centre for holidays throughout the year. For golfers, Mundesley Golf Club offers a quietly welcoming challenge with a fascinating history, set in a delightful location.