I am not a golfer. I used to enjoy a 20 minute round on the putting green at Pakefield; that was a particular favourite of my father’s. This putting green on the front at Lowestoft claims to be over 200 years old, so the turf there must be very ancient indeed.
The putting green at Southwold is rather more recent, but that is another green I used to frequent on summer holidays as a child. I once went round the Pitch and Putt course at Holt Hall when my own children were young. That was not at all enjoyable, as the grass was long and roughly cut, and swinging a golf club with any accuracy was impossible.
I have never done a round of golf on a real golf course however, and have never wished to either. It is a fine hobby for Scotsmen who invented it, but this Sassenach can find more interesting things to do on a country walk than to whack a golf ball. That is not to say I am unfamiliar with golf courses. The first one I frequented was Bungay golf course on Outney Common. In 1955 I was a schoolboy at St Mary’s, just a few hundred yards away from the common. For afternoon sports we went down to the Bungay Golf Course Club House to collect the goal posts. Our football pitch wasn’t exactly on the golf course, but it wasn’t far off. We were on good terms with the greenkeeper who we would see as we went into the shed where the goal posts were kept. Of course there was nothing like a net or even a crossbar to erect. In the summer we played cricket by the golf course, but the stumps we took with us. One day we watched in fascination as a controlled burn by Peter Sprake of the gorse on the common got out of hand. Flames spread to the golf course. In the end I had to run for dear life and left my school blazer on the grass. It nearly became a blazer in another sense, but luckily it was retrieved and later restored to me by a fireman.
Golf was a popular hobby among my school friends at Gresham’s, but there wasn’t a course in Holt so it wasn’t a frequent pastime. The nearest courses were at Sheringham, Cromer and the Links at West Runton. Of all these courses that at Cromer I know best, because one crosses it to walk to the lighthouse on the cliffs.
I spent a Sunday afternoon at the Links with a friend and his family n the early 1960s. It was rather boring because we boys sat outside in the car, while the adults were drinking inside in the bar. The car was an elegant Humber Snipe, but even the plush leather seats began to pall after a while. What a disgraceful way to treat youngsters!
The Eaton Golf Course is bordered by Marston Lane which runs from Ipswich Road on the outskirts of Norwich. This lane was once open to traffic but has now been a footpath for over fifty years. I often used to walk my dogs along Marston Lane. I would see the golfers practising their swings. I picked up an enormous number of lost golf balls from the verge as I wandered along the public highway. Unfortunately they are too small and hard for dogs, who much prefer to play with tennis balls.
I was for years a daily visitor to the Wensum Valley golf Course, but that was as their postman. Since retiring I have been an occasional diner at their carvery. The restaurant has a very good view across the first tee to the country beyond. The view in future may be rather spoilt by the northern distributor road, which will terminate in a roundabout in the middle distance.