10 of the best Courses in Devon
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
DEVON is known as the English Riviera and if you have ever been there you will know why. With their golden sands and palm tree-lined promenades, Torquay and Paignton are among the most popular holiday resorts in England.
The Dartmoor National Park lies wholly in Devon, and the Exmoor National Park straddles Devon and Somerset. Apart from these areas of high moorland the county features rolling rural scenery and villages with picture-postcard thatched cottages.
One of the main features of the North Devon coast is that Bideford Bay and Hartland Point peninsula are both west-facing, Atlantic facing coastlines, meaning that a combination of an off-shore (east) wind and an Atlantic swell produce excellent surfing conditions, as well as providing some challenging weather for anybody who fancies a round of golf in the county. Devon features a host of stunning golf courses. Here, we look at 10 of the best.
Warren Golf Club
Par 69, 5,998 yards, links
Green fee £30
Set in a beautiful Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserve, the Warren Golf Club claims to be the only true links course in Devon and is renowned for the quality of its greens. The second hole is a par four measuring 363 yards. The ideal drive should be played to the left of the fairway using the slope to carry the ball further around the corner, which leaves a shorter second shot. There are trees on the left and gorse is to be avoided at all costs. The eighth is a par three measuring 197 yards, and is a great short hole. It is played to an elevated green, so calls for at least one more club than you might think. Bunkers left and right await any wayward tee shot. The 12th is a great par five. It measures just 477 yards but features a pond to the left of the fairway and another water hazard to the right of the green. A ditch crosses the fairway 60 yards from the green. The 18th is 399 yards long and features a railway line on the right side. Take a line just left of the first tee for your drive, this will keep your ball down the left side of the fairway and open up the green for your approach. The fairway runs out after 250 yards so make sure you don't hit your drive too far.
Saunton (East) Golf Club
Par 71, 6,779 yards, heathland
Green fee £90, winter £60
There are two courses at Saunton, the East and the West. They are both top quality, but the East is the more challenging. It was opened in 1897 and hosted the English Amateur Championship in 1937. The opening hole is a tough par four, measuring 473 yards. Left of centre is ideal from the tee, with the trouble on the right. There is a ditch 60 yards from the green. It takes two mighty blows to negotiate this hole. The ninth is a 387-yard par four. The bunker on the right offers the ideal line from the tee. There is lots of trouble on the left. The putting surface is undulating. The 13th is a demanding par three measuring 157 yards. Aim for the centre of the green - if you miss the putting surface you will be faced with a tough pitch, especially if you find the bunker at the front left. The 18th, a par four of 407 yards, is a classic finishing hole. Bunkers on the left and right await any errant drive.The green is protected by five bunkers.
Royal North Devon Golf Club
Par 72 , 6,653 yards, links
Green fee £65
Royal North Devon is the oldest golf course in England. It was opened in 1864 and is largely unchanged in all that time. A burn criss-crosses the first hole, a 478-yard par five. Your drive should be aimed at the telegraph pole as the prevailing wind will bring your ball back to the centre of the fairway. A ditch in front of the green will discourage many from going for it in two. The eighth is a 192-yard par three which is usually played into a cross wind to a large green guarded by bunkers left and right. The 13th measures 442 yards. The difficulty comes with the second shot, which is played to the smallest green on the course. It is slightly elevated and slopes off on all sides, so good luck with trying to keep your ball on the putting surface.The 17th is a full-blooded par five, measuring 555 yards. Your second shot should be played down the left, leaving a shorter and easier pitch shot to the green. The third shot is played over a road and ditch to a green that runs off to a lower tier at the back. The green is well protected by bunkers.
Bovey Castle Golf Club
Par 70, 6,303 yards, parkland
Green fee £70, winter £49
Bovey Castle was designed in 1926 by J F Abercromby, one of the finest British golf course designers of the last century, and opened for play in 1930. It benefits from a truly idyllic landscape. The opening hole is 309 yards and falls down into the river valley onto a newly reshaped fairway, leaving a short shot across the River Bovey onto the green. The second is a 382-yard par four where accuracy is a must. A dogleg to the left around a wood, be careful not to over-shoot the fairway. Stay as tight to the left as possible to leave the best line into the green, on the far side of the river. The 10th is the only par five on the back nine, measuring 512 yards. It plays across a valley through a saddle in the hill, leaving a second shot across another valley. Players laying up need to be wary of a ditch at the bottom of the hill. If you go for the green in two you will have to carry three bunkers short of the green. The 18th, at 432 yards, requires a drive up around the bunkers if the green is to be in view for the second shot. Drives hugging the left will leave a shorter second, but will be blind. The green tilts sharply from left to right.
Yelverton Golf Club
Par 71, 6,353 yards, heathland
Green fee £30
Yelverton was originally founded in 1904. It is a delightful moorland course using the old mine working as natural hazards. It has wonderful views across Dartmoor and over Cornwall, with Dartmoor ponies and cattle sharing the fairways. It opens with a 205-yard par three featuring a small green. Depending on the wind, it can be as much as a driver. There is out of bounds to the left and right. The seventh is 432 yards and is an uphill par four. The fairway bunker on the left is to be avoided, as is the gorse on the right. A tough, challenging hole where most players will happily settle for a bogey. The 12th is a delightful par three of 179 yards. The green is protected by bunkers left, right and centre and the real challenge when the ground is hard is going to be keeping the ball on the putting surface. The 378-yard 18th has a generous fairway but a bunker on the right must be avoided. Your second shot will be struck over a ravine to a two-tiered green.
Tavistock Golf Club
Par 71, 6,541 yards, heathland
Green fee £40
With its wide fairways, Tavistock looks deceptively easy, but the thick gorse, bracken and trees tell a rather different story. There are also plenty of hidden bunkers. The thin soil not only provides tight lies, but makes the greens lightning fast. The course opens with a 348-yard par four which doglegs from right to left. A line to the marker post opens the green up for a simple second shot. Big hitters can go over the middle of the gorse and get very close to the green. The sixth is 365 yards long and shares its green with the 14th. Finding the fairway is a must and beware the bunker in a hollow short of the green. A huge green, so make sure you find the right part of it. The 11th is an uphill par four of 399 yards. Avoid the two fairway bunkers. The green slopes from back to front, making it important you leave the ball below the hole.The closing hole, a 364-yard par four features a blind drive. The fairway slopes left to right with the ideal line between the two trees in the distance, leaving an approach to an undulating green.
Tiverton Golf Club
Par 71, 6,053 yards, parkland
Green fee £39, winter £25
Tiverton was originally designed by James Braid and is one of Devon's finest parkland courses, with the tree-lined fairways demanding accuracy from the tee. The third holes runs along the Grand Western Canal. It is a 501-yard par five. The fairway slopes severely from left to right, which means right-handed golfers will be playing their second shots with the ball above their feet. The right side of the green slopes steeply away. The eighth, at 408 yards, is a left-to-right dogleg with trees on the left. A bunker and ditch on the right are to be avoided with your second shot. The 15th is a 270-yard par four that offers a great birdie opportunity, but you need to be accurate as there are trees on both sides of the fairway. There is a large mound in the centre of the green. The closing hole is 359 yards and is a dogleg to the left, with trees all the way down the right, so you need to hit a straight drive before an approach to a flat green.
Staddon Heights Golf Club
Par 70, 6,226 yards, links
Green fee £28
Staddon Heights Golf Club was established in 1904. It is situated on the outskirts of Plymouth, offering beautiful views along the Devon and Cornwall coastline, Plymouth Sound, the City of Plymouth and inland over the Dartmoor and Bodmin hills. The club celebrated its centenary in 2004, when the 16th and 17th holes were redesigned, new greens were built at the 11th and 12th holes and the fifth and sixth holes were combined to create a new par five. The second hole is a great par three measuring 209 yards - if the wind is blowing into your face you will do well to get anywhere close to the green. Next comes the toughest hole on the course, the 459-yard par four third. The fourth is a gentle dogleg measuring just 258 yards. It provides fantastic views of the sea and can be reached with a decent drive if you avoid the fairway bunkers. This may not be an especially long golf course but it requires accuracy from the tee and a great deal of patience. The 17th offers a breathtaking view of the city of Plymouth across the bay - it is a 175-yard par three with a sloping green protected by a deep bunker front right.
Dartmouth Golf Club
Par 72, 7,156 yards, parkland
Green fee £45
This is a proper challenge. The first hole is 432 yards, featuring an open fairway which slopes from right to left. Anything left is out of bounds, but anything right of the fairway is safe, with a good view of the green. The first green is large and features plenty of contours. The par three, 179-yard third hole presents a challenging tee shot over a lake 50 feet below the tee. The green is narrow, but is 50 yards deep. Tee shots towards the left side of the green should be favoured, with the right hand side fraught with danger and a steep bank ready to take your ball into a stream. The 10th is another stunning golf hole, a 407-yard par four carved through the hillside. A straight drive is required to avoid the cliff face on the left and ravine right of the fairway. The approach is uphill to a long raised green. The 18th is a 244-yard par three featuring a tee shot over a large lake to a narrow, long green, which is protected by four large bunkers.
Thurlestone Golf Club
Par 71, 6,179 yards, links
Green fee £50
This Harry Colt designed course offers spectacular clifftop views. The fifth is a tough, 216-yard par three that is normally played into the wind. Take plenty of club and aim to the left of the pin as the ground slopes from left to right. The ninth is 400 yards. Drive along the left side of the fairway, which slopes steeply from left to right and features three fairway bunkers The second shot should be aimed to the left side of the green, protected by a bank and three further traps.The 14th, at 508 yards, is a par five and is another hole that features a sloping fairway, from right to left this time.Your second shot should be to the right side, where a bank will push the ball towards the green. The 18th is a 500-yard par five. Big hitters can carry the bunkers on the left but most players will aim for the centre of the fairway. Be careful with your second shot as there is out of bounds on the left. The third shot is played to an elevated green.
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