Bungay doesn’t quite have the beauty of Purdis Heath, the scale of Aldeburgh nor the intimacy of Woodbridge yet the compact site on Bungay Common is ideal for golf; the turf is good and the natural contours of the terrain are superb. Add in the James Braid influence and these two ingredients will inevitably produce an exciting round of golf.
The routing of the course is charming as the two nines intermingle wonderfully and it is the tumultuous area around the green sites at the second, ninth, 11th and 12th which holds everything together remarkably well. Three of the greens at these holes are perched on table top plateaus whilst the 11th is nestled in a dell at the end of a cascading fairway. The course sits in a horseshoe-shaped loop formed by the River Waveney and covers just 84 acres.
More good and very interesting green locations can be found throughout the round with the sunken putting surfaces at the 10th and 17th the most memorable, partly because of the heavy contouring. However, the penultimate hole, the sole par five on the property, is one of many excellent holes from start to finish and not just around the greens.
There are also some more subtle moments during the round which produce good golf. Running alongside each other, the third and 13th, are a couple of fine two-shotters and the sixth is an extremely good par four which, if you avoid the bunkers that pinch into the fairway, will require an accurate approach to a long and angled green.
The 14th and 15th – a short par four followed by a crafty par three – is also a particularly lovely area of the course. That said the entire layout, sprinkled with gorse as well as pine and birch trees, is a fabulous setting for golf.
Playing from the tight, dappled heathland fairways was a joy and whilst the greens weren’t overly quick (it was late October) they ran true and there were some delightful borrows to contend with. The natural sandy soil provides excellent drainage and ensures the course is playable all year round.
Not everything is perfect at Bungay and there are a few dud holes but overall this course is more than worth the journey into the heart of Suffolk to sample this heathland delight.
Copt Heath is a very fine parkland golf course that requires precision, plotting and a deft touch around the slick greens.
The Blue is a mix of American-style design and traditional English parkland. It's an unusual combination which makes the most of the terrain available. It was designed by Simon Gidman and opened in 1994.