It's a classic out-and-back course with just the right mix of rugged duneland and quirky, humpty-dumpty terrain. It creates a blend of unique links golf that is both testing and immensely enjoyable.
I'd been aware of Seacroft for some time but never ventured to the seaside town of Skegness to play it until 2014. After my first round I was left wondering why I had left it so long in my golfing career to sample this time-honoured links course and immediately promised myself I'd be back sooner rather than later to experience its charm and challenge once again. I have now returned several times and each time it impresses me more.
I had that same feeling once before after playing Silloth on Solway for the first time and I can't help draw comparisons between the two. Not necessarily in the style of the course, as they are both quite different, but in the sense that until fairly recently Silloth was relatively unknown to the mass golfing world. Now it is widely acclaimed as one of the finest links courses on the planet and as a result golfers flock to the remote part of Cumbria from afar. It was even awarded the English Amateur Championship in 2012 adding further to its status.
Seacroft has similar accessibility issues to Silloth and although not quite as far off the beaten track it's not the easiest, or rather the quickest place, to get to from major towns and cities across the UK. Nor does it have allies in other strong links courses nearby where players may stay and play a few courses in the area. That certainly shouldn't act as a deterrent for you to venture to the Lincolnshire coast though. It alone is well worthy of the trip.
I feel that by playing Seacroft I have been let in to a little secret. But it's a secret I'm not willing to keep. I'm confident that this is a ticking time bomb of a course and once the cat is out of the bag it will lead to it becoming a much more well-known and sought after destination. This won't occur overnight, and will require the main-stream national golf media to laud due praise on it, but I'm certain it will happen and I for one will be recommending people pay a visit.
The club is located on the periphery of the town with the opening and closing holes bordered by residential properties. The first nine holes work their way away from suburbia to the farthest point of the course. On my original visit I had the entire course to myself and it is out here where you truly feel far removed from your everyday existence. The 11th tee provides a hauntingly lonely place to gather your thoughts and enjoy a beautiful moment of bewitching solitude.
Many comments I heard prior to my visit were that this was not a place for somebody who hits the ball left-to-right due to out of bounds running down the right on several of the holes, both the front and back nine. I would argue that and say, whilst no doubt the slicer will struggle, this is the perfect course for somebody who can control their fade. For you must be down the right-hand-side on many of the holes to give you not only the best line of approach but also a more visible one.
This is certainly the case at the opening two holes, the second possessing a wonderful long, narrow and sloping green not dissimilar to the same numbered hole at Burnham & Berrow. The third is blind to a tumbling fairway where your tee-shot must skirt a large bunker positioned in the absolute perfect place.
The short fourth is played to a green sitting proudly on top of a large mound where it appears that only the straightest shot will find the putting surface. Meanwhile the next is a strong hole along the edge of the course with a huge mound acting as a backdrop to the hole. Turning 180 degrees and the sixth is an excellent short-medium length par four with an array of bunkers providing the main defence. It also allows you opportunity to survey the land which has been at your back for the opening five holes and sneak a glance at the closing stretch. The seventh switches direction again and resumes the outward journey. It is a gentle dogleg to the right with an approach shot to a green partially hidden away in a bowl. This time the left side is favourable as it is at the ninth.
The eighth meanwhile is a hole that will live long in the memory and is an ideal example of a good strategic golf hole. Not only does it play down the side of a charming country lane but this road must be crossed with the tee shot and the more you carry the better off you will be. Shy away from the lane to the left and you will be faced with a blind second shot over a large dune to a green that favours a ball from the right.
The ninth is a short-ish par five with a tumultuous fairway and green hidden away behind a large sand dune. In an unusual sequence of six holes it is the first of three par fives with the other three holes all par threes. The tenth is a brilliant short hole with a false fronted green and an angled row of bunkers waiting eagerly for anything short. I wasn't as keen on the 12th, a longer and even more exposed par three but it's hard to find fault at Seacroft. The two other par fives couldn't be more different to each other. The 11th is a very long hole played with a narrow ridge to the left and flatter land to the right. Getting there may be a bit of a slog but once you are it boasts a wonderful green complex which you don't want to miss on the high left. Meanwhile, the perplexing 13th offers plenty of options with its split fairway, devilish bunkers and raised green.
You are now on the highest point of the course and you pretty much remain there for the rest of the round. Playing on this elevated plateau is stark contrast to the holes played on lower ground and offers a glimpse of the sea in the distance over an expanse of marshland. The 14th is the final par three and it is a superb hole. It differs to the other short holes and is played along the ridge to a well bunkered green.
The final four holes are all par fours and return you home. The 15th, 17th and 18th all provide a test of long straight hitting but my favourite was the shorter 16th played into a tight corner of the property. It is named 'Dunes' but the fairway has more of a hillocky persona and comes at a timely point in the round.
When the fairways are running fast and the wind abates I imagine Seacroft will play quite short for its 6,500 yards. However, new tees recently added for the staging of the 2013 English Boys Under 16's Open Amateur Championship for The MacGregor Trophy will add considerable distance to the course and real bite to some of the holes.
Hopefully the new tees, along with the hosting of this prestigious tournament, will be the first step of putting Seacroft well and truly on the golfing map.
It's a course just waiting to be found and I'm so pleased that I now know more about this little links oasis sandwiched between flat, arable land on one side and swampy marshland on the other.
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.