The 18 holes move gradually closer and closer to the sea and as the terrain improves so does the quality of the holes. That’s not to say they are poor to start off with because Hopeman is a splendid golf course and one I’m sure their members must be extremely proud of. The condition of the greens was the best that we played on a trip that consisted of nine courses, one of which was an Open Championship links plus several other notable venues.
The Club was founded in 1909 as a nine-hole course before being extended to 18 in 1985. Par is 68 with a yardage of 5,624 from the white markers. The course is playable for all but still asks good golfing questions of the more accomplished player. Hopeman features in our best golf courses under 6,000 yards.
The majority of holes are flanked on both sides by gorse and straight driving is essential if you are to score well around this charming yet demanding layout. There’s a nice mix of holes, however, the course retains a largely consistent feel to it. The only holes that are slightly out of kilter to the rest are the long fourth and the adjacent sixth. Both of these are played over less interesting ground where trees come into play but these are quickly forgotten as you enjoy the delights of the excellent back-nine.
Glimpses of the sea can be seen at the 10th and 11th – a couple of modest two-shotters awash with bright yellow gorse on our visit in May – before you are stopped dead in your tracks with the spectacular signature hole at Hopeman. The 150-yard 12th is a difficult one to describe but essentially you play from the top of the cliffs down to a green set 100 feet below in a secluded cove. The vista from here is simply stunning with the Moray Firth wrapping around you - a real jaw-dropper of a hole. The only bad thing about “The Prieshach” is that you must walk straight back up the steep hill after you have putted out to get to the 13th tee!
This is, however, the start of a glorious run of holes because the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th are all superb as they gradually descend closer to the sea with the most movement in the land that we see during the round. The 14th sweeps down the hill quite magnificently and is visually stunning whilst the short 15th adds a little bit of fun with a quirky green setting before arguably the best hole on the course. At the 16th you drive slightly uphill to a fairway that sweeps to the right and pinches in at driving distance. If you hit driver in an attempt to get closer to the green you must increase your accuracy the further you hit.
The testing 17th and interesting 18th are a fitting finale to a course that goes about its business in an unassuming manner. It doesn’t pretend, nor is it, to be one of the championship links in this area. Rather it offers good golf in a stunningly beautiful location where bottle nosed dolphins are regularly seen in the waters below. Add to this the excellent value and Hopeman is just a lovely place to enjoy a round of golf.
It's a long time since I've walked off a golf course and been as impressed and surprised, compared to what I was expecting, than at Newbiggin.
A family holiday brought me to Whitby Golf Club. After stuffing myself with fish & chips, losing most of my money on the penny slots and catching umpteen crabs in the harbour it was time for a round of golf!
Planning a round of golf in late October can be a dicey affair, especially in my home county of Yorkshire where the vast majority of courses are built on heavy soil or clay, so it was very refreshing to discover when venturing down south how well East Berkshire played at this time of year.