Burnham & Berrow Golf Club, Friday 28th October 2023: How many shots might it take to go round Burnham and Berrow’s championship course with just one club? In March 1912, Burnham’s then professional, local boy Ernie Foord, did it in 73 using just his putter, a quite remarkable feat celebrated in Burnham member Anthony Gibson’s book, “Golf’s Most Astonishing Round”, which was launched at the club on October 27th.

To mark the occasion, Burnham’s current Professional, local boy David Haines, decided to have a crack at emulating Ernie’s achievement, using an Ernie Foord club made in around 1910.  Ernie Foord used a ‘straight-faced iron putter’ for his 73, and conditions were frosty, which must have helped a lot. David was armed with a hickory shafted mid-iron, the equivalent of a modern day 5 or 4 iron, and there was precious little run on the ball after all the recent rain.

The course which David designed for his attempt was as close as possible in length to the 6100 yards which it was in 1912. This meant omitting the present ninth, and instead playing two 4th holes, one from the forward 4th tee on the championship course to the 3rd green on the Channel, and the second from the 7th Gold tee on the Channel Course but to the 4th green on the championship. Apart from that, and a forward tee by the purple direction post at the 10th, he played the course to much the same length as from the green tees.

He got it round in 96, having hoped to break 90. Sevens at the 5th, 11th and 12th and a six at the fifth didn’t help.  Whereas Ernie Foord must have holed just about every putt he looked at, David was actually putting left-handed, to de-loft his 4 iron equivalent. And whilst he did putt quite remarkably well with it for most of the round, any number of putts just shaved the hole.

David’s iron had a shallow face and a sharp edge to the sole, about as unforgiving as it gets.  Anything in the rough spelt trouble, especially as he was playing a 1.62 Dunlop 65 which tended to nestle down, whilst absolute precision of strike was required on the chip shots. But there were some glorious shots through the green. You would never have guessed from the sound of club hitting ball on tee and fairway that the club in question was over 100 years old, so crisp was the strike.  From the blue tee at the 3rd, he carried the bunkers up the left, put his second to 20 feet and holed the putt for a three.  At the 7th, he was pin high in two, just 20 yards short in two at the 8th, with just a gentle breeze from the South-West to help.

Bunkers were always going to be a challenge. David found just the one – the first of the three bunkers guarding the right hand side of the 18th. Ernie Foord used the heel of his putter to dig the ball out.   David got right down in his stance, opened the face so much that it was almost horizontal, and out she popped!

It all made for a fascinating, hugely enjoyable afternoon in the autumn sunshine. Yes, 96 might have been a bit disappointing, but show me anyone (Ernie Foord apart, of course) who could have done  better. What it also served to do was to underline just what a remarkable score that 73 must have been. Truly, “Golf’s Most Astonishing Round”.

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Course Status

Championship Course - Open

Channel Course - Open

Last Updated — 12:00am, 23rd November 2023