Could Norfolk become Britain’s best - for golf tourism?
- Credit: Ian Burt
There is a fair way to go, but Norfolk is lining up a shot at being the number one spot - for golf holidays.
Quality courses, spectacular coastal scenery and value for money have led to a rise in the number of golfers taking to the county's fairways.
Two UK-based golf tour companies said they had set up packages for Norfolk in the past year due to demand, while several clubs chipped in by saying they had noticed an increase in visitor rounds in recent years.
James Bryan, commercial director of Golf Escapes, said the company was started in 2002 to take UK golfers to the Algarve in Portugal.
He said: 'But last year due to increased demand we set up a UK product and Norfolk has become a key area for us. The quality of courses are really good, hotels are affordable and the level of friendliness is great. Norfolk is also very accessible from Europe and the UK.'
He said with the value of the pound weakening, the county was seen as a 'value for money destination' by locals.
Graham Ruth, managing director of Exclusive Golf Breaks, said Norfolk was attracting more foreign golfers for the same reason.
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'We've had an increasing number of German, Swiss, Spanish and particuarly French golfers coming to Norfolk and it's a growing area as it's more affordable now for foreign tourists. We've seen a 30pc growth in the last year.'
Having worked at Hunstanton Golf Club for more than 17 years, club professional James Dodds has seen the growth firsthand. 'There are definitely a lot more visitors coming to play. There is a nice variety of courses in the area and we get a lot of Scandanavians coming over.'
Stephanie Middleton, assistant manager at King's Lynn Golf Club, said the north Norfolk coast was popular because of low rainfall and an array of places to eat and stay. She said the course was on the 'bucket list' of many golfers.
Pete Waters of Visit Norfolk said: 'We've been working with Golf Tourism England to encourage more visitors. Cycling and walking have seen considerable growth in the past few years but we think there could be a golf renaissance, particularly in the group travel market if marketed well to both the domestic and overseas markets.'
Five of our best golf courses
? Located on the beautiful north west Norfolk coast, Hunstanton is a superb championship links course. It is rated as one of England's top 100
? King's Lynn Golf Club in west Norfolk has been likened to Augusta. Rated in the top 100 golf courses in England, the tree-lined fairways have matured over the years and today it is regarded as one of the finest inland golf courses
? Royal Cromer Golf Club is essentially cliff-top in character with spectacular views and has a wealth of sandy hills, grassy valleys and abundant gorse and bracken
? Royal West Norfolk Golf Club (Brancaster) is an outstanding links course set on the north Norfolk coast. Ranked 44th in the UK by top100golfcourses.com
? Sheringham Golf Club has a distinguished history, having hosted major amateur events. The undulating fairways and fast, true greens will prove a test to all standards of golfer.