At the end of a single track lane, passing through a Bull field, near Askam-in-Furness in the South-West corner of the Cumbrian Lake District you will find a rustic 10-hole links which specialises in charm and character.
The first and 10th holes play on the inland side of the property and although they traverse heavier soil the same large dune ridge must be negotiated at each. At the first it is used to great effect as a hogsback fairway whilst at the ‘last’ you must play blind over it to a sloping green on the other side - at just 286-yards this could be with your drive or second shot.
I say that the 10th is the ‘last’ hole, however, the routing does require some further explanation as the scorecard shows a par 72, 6,148-yard layout.
You play all ten holes which initially takes you away from the clubhouse before doubling back on yourself to play the second and from here you begin your journey out onto some lovely linksland before switching back at the far end and returning to the clubhouse culminating with the 10th.
You then play the first again - which is obviously now the 11th - but on the second go round you miss out the sixth & seventh holes and skip straight to the eighth (which is by now the 16th) and play the final three holes (8, 9 & 10 again). In summary you play every hole twice (albeit from different teeing areas) except the sixth and seventh.
The puzzle doesn’t quite end there though because on the scorecard the seventh hole is noted as “7a and 7b”. This has no bearing on the playing sequence rather this hole has two teeing areas and can play 262 or 206 yards!
In some ways missing out the sixth and seventh on the second loop is quite a shame because these two holes create the most talking points. The sixth is a par-three played up a near-vertical face to a circular green set on top of a limestone outcrop that projects out in to the Duddon Estuary whilst at the seventh (if played from 7a tee) you drive from the top of the gigantic rock - over a house! - to a fairway adjacent to the shore of the estuary before playing to a green on the other side of a dry stone wall.
In fact a good place to inhale some fresh oxygen would be from the ‘top tee’ of 7a where you will undoubtedly want to savour a moment to drink in the spectacular views over Duddon Sands to the Lakeland Fells and Cumbrian Mountains.
The long and short of it all is that Dunnerholme, founded back in 1905, has more uniqueness in a handful of its holes than many courses do in their entire round.
As for the other holes not mentioned, these are more pedestrian in nature but are played over lovely linksy ground, lined by dabs of gorse, swathes of heather and were just a joy to play on a crisp autumnal morning when the blue sky set alight the Cumbria hills which act as a stunning backdrop to the outward holes.
Missing from the “True Links” book, which supposedly details all the genuine links courses in the world, I believe Dunnerholme should be included. Eight of the ten holes play over linksland and even the two that don’t look as though they do, even though the ground is undeniably softer. It may well be that the authors of the book skipped the west coast of Cumbria because Dunnerholme would make a fine couplet with Furness (another links omitted from the book) and/or possibly tied in with a visit to nine-hole Silecroft which is borderline links.
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.