10 of the Best Courses in Somerset
Somerset is a rural county of rolling hills, including the Blackdown, Mendip and Quantock Hills, as well as Exmoor National Park and large flat expanses of land known as the Somerset Levels. Its county town is Taunton. The county is also famous for its extensive network of caves, including Wookey Hole, underground rivers, and gorges, including the Cheddar Gorge and Ebbor Gorge.
Its main coastal towns are Minehead, Watchet, Burnham-on-Sea, Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon and Portishead. Somerset's main industries are farming and tourism, and many of those who visit it do so to play many of the fine golf courses located in the county. Here, we look at 10 of the best.
Burnham and Berrow Golf Club
Par 71, 6,695 yards, links
Green fee £115
Set among the sand dunes on the Bristol Channel coast, Burnham and Berrow has staged the British Ladies Amateur Championship and the Brabazon Trophy. The second hole is 422 yards. The drive is played between the dunes, leaving a long second shot to a long, narrow two-tier green with two bunkers waiting on the left side. The eighth is a 523-yard par five with a stream running down the right side. Pot bunkers on the left wait to swallow up an errant drive. A fairway bunker is to be avoided with your second shot before an approach to a green with trouble on the right. The 12th is a gem measuring 402 yards.The target from the tee is the church tower in the distance, with the perfect line just to the right. The fairway slopes from left to right. A deep swale protects the two-tier green. The closing hole measures 447 yards and the tee shot is critical if you are to have any chance of making a par, with thorn bushes waiting to swallow up anything off target. It is a gentle dogleg, with a second shot played to green that is protected by sand on both sides. It also slopes from front to back.
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Weston-Super-Mare Golf Club
Par 70, 6,245 yards, links
Green fee £60
Weston-super-Mare Golf Club is a links course situated at the southern end of Weston Bay, with superb views across the Bristol Channel. It was designed by Alistair MacKenzie. The fourth measures 364 yards, with accuracy rather than distance being the key. It is best to go with a fairway wood to guarantee position, leaving an approach of about 150 yards. Any ball landing on the front left of the green will kick off. You should try to avoid leaving yourself a downhill putt here. The eighth measures 464 yards and is a par five. There is a bunker left and another right of a wide fairway. A bunker awaits the pushed second. The green features many subtle slopes and borrows.The signature hole is the 15th – a 458 yard par 4 which is reputably modelled on the 17th at St Andrews, with a blind tee shot and out of bounds down the right, and the green set at an angle to the treacherous bunker at the front corner. The final hole is a 433-yard par four with out of bounds on the right and cross bunkers 130 yards from the green. Two greenside bunkers to the left catch a lot of golf balls as players favour that side.
Mendip Golf Club
Par 71, 6,383 yards, parkland
Green fee £28
Mendip Golf Club is located on the north facing slope of the Mendips at an elevation of almost 1,000ft and offers some spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The third is a 424-yard par four which is normally played into the wind, with out of bounds on the left and trees on the right. A small green slopes from front to back, with a steep bank at the rear. The seventh is 442 yards. The fairway is wide but trees on the left and right will punish anything hit off line. The ideal line is slightly left of centre, which leaves an open approach to a green protected on the right by a large tree. A narrow, undulating green is also protected by a bunker on the left. The 12th is a 176-yard uphill par three featuring a two-tier green that is protected by both bunkers and trees. The key here is to find the right level. The 18th, measuring just 254 yards, is a great risk-and-reward par four. There is out of bounds on the left. Go for the green and two deep bunkers short of the contoured putting surface need to be avoided.
Clevedon Golf Club
Par 72, 6,675 yards, parkland
Green fee £42
Clevedon first opened in 1898 and underwent major changes in the 1990s, when five new holes were built along with 18 new greens. The second hole is a 480-yard par five with trees on the left and a copse on the right. A road crosses the fairway just short of the green. The approach is always a little further than it appears to be. The sixth may only measure 375 yards, but it is one of the most difficult holes on the course. The tree-lined fairway is narrow, so your tee shot, which is blind, must be accurate.The second shot is uphill to an undulating green protected short right by a deep bunker. The 11th is 417 yards with a fairway that slopes gently from right to left. A hedge on the left forces most players to go further right than they should, with a row of conifers waiting. The flat green is protected by two bunkers. The 17th is a testing par four of 395 yards. It is normally played into the wind. The fairway slopes from left to right and is tree-lined, with no room for error. The approach is played to an elevated green, with a bunker to the left.
Bath Golf Club
Par 71, 6,505 yards, parkland
Green fee £42
Bath Golf Club is known locally as Sham Castle after the folly that stands in a field adjoining the course, which was redesigned by Harry Colt in 1937 and has remained largely unchanged ever since. It opens with a 305-yard par four. The tee shot is intimidating but there is more room on the fairway than there appears to be. Long hitters can reach the green but a wayward tee shot can be costly. Ideally, hit your drive over the bunker on the right which runs down into the middle of the fairway. The ninth is 404 yards long. A fairway bunker waits on the right side, with trees left and right. The biggest challenge is the green, which slopes from left to right and is surrounded by three bunkers. The 12th is a par four of 395 yards. Once again, the drive is the key, with three fairway bunkers to be avoided and trees to the right. The perfect drive is to the left, which opens up the green. The 18th is a great closing hole. It is a par four and it measures 435 yards. A straight drive is vital to a fairway that slopes away from you, leaving an approach from a downhill lie to a sloping green.
Minehead and West Somerset Golf Club
Par 72, 6,264 yards, links
Green fee £25
Minehead opened as an 18-hole course in 1901. On several occasions the close proximity to the sea has caused damage to the clubhouse and various changes have had to be made to the course due to the encroachment of the sea. The fourth is a daunting par three of 213 yards with a drainage ditch to be cleared twice. The green is a large one, protected by bunkers right and left. The seventh is a 529-yard par five. The safe drive is to the left, but the ball may end up in the rough. Well-placed bunkers on the fairway and surrounding the green means you need to stop and think before letting loose. The 12th, at 424 yards, is one of the most difficult on the course, especially when played into the wind. With the wind behind, however, your ball will run a long way down this fairway. The small-ish green is a difficult target to find and has bunkers on both sides. The 18th is another challenging par three of 213 yards. The tee shot must be long enough and accurate to a large, undulating green.
Saltford Golf Club
Par 71, 6,402 yards, parkland
Green fee £35, winter £25
Saltford was founded in 1904 and is a beautiful parkland course. The second hole is a lovely par three of 158 yards, proving that short holes don't have to be 200 yards-plus to be challenging. The green is protected by bunkers left and right, with all the trouble lurking on the left side of the putting surface. The eighth measures 454 yards with the fairway running from right to left and trees to be avoided. The approach is to a two-tiered green, and it is important to find the right level. There is plenty of trouble behind the green. The 13th is a tremendous par four of 425 yards. Everything slopes to the right to a tight fairway, with more trees to catch the wayward shot. The approach is to a three-tiered green. The 18th may only measure 365 yards, but disaster lurks - the drive is a tight one, through an avenue of trees, with out of bounds on the right and woodland on the left. To make matters worse, the fairway slopes severely from left to right. A potential card-wrecker.
Oake Manor Golf Club
Par 70, 6,149 yards, parkland
Green fee £27
This is a dramatic parkland golf course that is well bunkered and features a LOT of water. If you don't bring your A game here then you are going to struggle, but it is a thing of rare beauty. The second is a par five that measures 546 yards. It is a dogleg with bunkers awaiting on both sides of the fairway and there are also trees left and right. You have a decision to make with your second - do you lay up or do you go for it and risk finding the lake that guards the green? A fantastic golf hole. The fourth is another great hole, a par three measuring 157 yards. Because of the trees, the wind tends to swirl around so the correct club choice is more difficult - and then there is the large water hazard to the right of the green and the three bunkers that surround it. The seventh is 409 yards long, with out of bounds and a stream running down the right. A well-placed fairway bunker on the left is to be avoided before an approach to a well guarded bunker, with out of bounds in play again. The 15th is another wonderful par five. It measures 476 yards and water runs its full length, on the left side. Avoid all of that and you face an approach shot to an island green surrounded by more water and bunkers.
Orchardleigh Golf Club
Par 72, 6,824 yards, parkland
Green fee £25, winter £20
Set in the beautiful Somerset countryside near the town of Frome, Orchardleigh was designed by former Ryder Cup player Brian Hugget and was built during 1994. The third hole is a cracking par three measuring 223 yards. The tee shot is over water, with trouble left and right, a bunker short and two more behind the green. The eighth is a 437-yard par four. The drive needs to be threaded through an avenue of trees, with fairway bunkers right and left. The difficulty with the second shot comes through trying to avoid a tree on the right and another on the left that protect the green, along with a bunker on the left. The 14th is a 527-yard par five and, unusually, the most difficult hole on the course. It is a dogleg right that plays uphill, with trees lining the left side. The best line from the tee is to the left, which opens the hole up for your second, but be careful to avoid the bunkers at the corner of the dogleg - two to the left, one to the right. A small green is protected by two further bunkers. The 18th is 452 yards. A long straight drive is a must before a second shot that requires caution - there is water to the right of the green and the clubhouse to the left.
Enmore Park Golf Club
Par 71, 6,434 yards, parkland
Green fee £43, winter £31
Enmore Park was established in 1932 and redesigned 40 years later. It is located at the foot of the Quantocks and features glorious views over Britain’s first area of outstanding natural beauty. The opening hole is a 391-yard par four. The tee shot is played uphill, with out of bounds on the left and a gully on the right that is to be avoided at all costs. The approach is also uphill and blind to a well protected green with a deep bunker to the right. The eighth measures 385 yards with trees right and left and a greenside bunker. The approach is another uphill one, usually calling for one more club than you might think. Ideally, land your shot short of the green to roll up to the putting surface, which has some undulations. The 13th is 375 yards and is all about missing the bunkers. There are two on the fairway and three more guard another undulating putting surface. The final hole measures 496 yards and is a par five that offers a good birdie chance. It is downhill and your drive should favour the right side as the fairway slopes from right to left. Trees on the left threaten to gather up the second shot, but there are also trees on the right, so you need to strike two solid, straight shots.
** Prices were correct at time of publishing - 2016
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