The Top 10 Must Visit Courses for Your Golf Break in Devon
Devon is one of the largest counties in the country and is home to a number of stunning national parks, long sandy beaches and dramatic coastlines. The mild climate enjoyed by the south west makes Devon a popular tourist destination, with people being drawn to Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks, as well as the numerous pretty and idyllic seaside towns that stretch along the historic Jurassic Coast.
Outside of the towns and cities of Devon, the rural areas are blessed with glorious natural landscapes, rolling hills and untouched coastlines, the perfect environment for a golfing holiday. The county has plenty of courses that feature within the countries top 100, including the prestigious Saunton Golf Club with both it’s East and West courses, Royal North Devon, and the luxurious stay & play venue at Bovey Castle.
So here it is, in no particular order (But of course we do have our favourites), a list of 10 must play golf courses in Devon!
Why not start this list with the course that is ranked as the #1 course in Devon. The East course at Saunton has been considered to be one of the premier golf courses in the West County since it’s design by Herbert Fowler in the 1920s. Located on the untouched and beautiful North Devon coastline, Saunton East is considered by many to be one of the finest seaside courses in all of the country, and one that would make a fine host of the Open Championship. The course is undeniably tough, with eight par fours that stretch further than 400 yards and only two par fives for you try and recover any lost shots. The stunning location and incredible design make the East course at Saunton a must visit for anyone visiting Devon.
Founded in 1897, Thurlestone Golf Club was originally a short nine hole course until it was later modified and extended by legendary course designer Harry Colt. The course is a cliff-top cum links course that runs along the coastline of Bigbury Bay, offering dramatic views that stretch for miles on a clear day. The first twelve holes offer a true links experience, with the holes weaving their way along the headland, offering stunning views of the Bolt Tail headland and easterly towards Plymouth Sound. As you make your way back to the clubhouse you will have the opportunity to pick up shots at a number of par fives before finishing with three of the courses finest holes.
Royal North Devon at Westward Ho! can proudly claim that it is the oldest golf course in England and the second oldest links course outside of Scotland. The course opened for play in 1864 and still plays on it’s original fairways to this day. From the clubhouse you are blessed with fantastic panoramic views of the Devon countryside, whilst the course, with almost no trees or bushes, seemingly blends into the surroundings. Don’t be fooled though, as there are plenty of reeds and rushes waiting to catch any wayward balls, and as is the way with most links courses,a breezy day can cause problems for even the most seasoned golfer. Royal North Devon is a must visit golf course that is steeped in history, with golfing memorabilia adorning the clubhouse, and you get this historic feeling the moment you arrive.
Bovey Castle might be the most beautifully located golf course in all of the South West. Set within Dartmoor, the largest, wildest and most stunning area of countryside in the region, Bovey Castle is built within the grounds of the stunning house built in 1906 and is perfect for an immersive parkland golf experience. The newly fashioned course stretches an impressive 6,600 yards and begins with a number of challenging holes that begin winding their way through a valley, all the while surrounded by the quintessentially British countryside that will devour wayward balls. The back nine makes it’s way back towards the clubhouse with a mixture of parkland and moorland, before reaching the final hole, the much improved 18 that offers a spectacular ending to the course. With it’s location and fantastic golf Bovey Castle really offers a great escape from the hustle and bustle.
The second course at Saunton, the west course, is a course steeped in history. Original plans for the course started in 1935 when players decided saunton needed a second course, legendary Herbert Fowler was brought in to design the course but this was put on hold during WWII, when the course was occupied by the military and used for training. The course shares many of the best elements of the East course, with holes weaving their way between dunes, undulating links, grassy mounds and cleverly placed bunkers. The course provides an excellent challenge and a good strategic approach is required to post a good score.
Exeter Golf & Country Club is an 18-hole parkland course designed by the legendary James Braid and set within an impressive Georgian mansion. The course stretches 6023 yards, with many of the fairways winding through ancient Oaks, Lime and Redwood trees, all the while offering golfers stunning views of Haldon Hill. The course should be a good challenge for golfers of any skill, with no less than sixty strategically placed bunkers, tough par fives and a killer finishing stretch, posting a good score here is no mean feat. The club also boasts fantastic facilities with a grass driving range, large putting green and short game practice area, offering a complete package for a golfing break.
Teignmouth Golf Club is located on the beautiful South Devon coast, and sits at 800 feet above sea level, offering spectacular views of the sea and the nearby moors. The club are understandably proud of the course’ heritage, having been designed by the legendary Dr Alister MacKenzie only nine years before he completed the design of Augusta National Park. The course at Teignmouth is routed across Haldon Moor, an area of moorland that is windy and exposed, making an easy round something of a novelty. The course has many of the classic Dr MacKenzie characteristics, with no less than 11 sloping multi-tired greens and many fast running fairways. This course is a real Devon gem and one that quite often slips under the radar when people are planning their golf break.
Ilfracombe is a well maintained course that offers a warm welcome to all players, and boasts some of the most spectacular views in all of the west country. The course boasts a breathtaking clifftop location set within an area of outstanding natural beauty, and although the course runs relatively short, the undulating fairways and regular strong winds blowing in from the coast can easily make this a tough course to play. This course is a real treat on the eyes and is the perfect course for a evening round during the summer, as you can relax in the clubhouse after your round and enjoy the sun going down over the Bristol Channel and the distant Lundy Island.
East Devon Golf Club is an absolute gem of a course sitting 400m above the sea, offering fantastic panoramic views of Lyme Bay and out into the English Channel, all set within the East Devon area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. East Devon Golf Club is a top100 course that is one of the finest courses in the South West and has aspirations to be the number one course in the region. The course will be one of the prettiest you are likely to play, weaving it’s way through gorse and heather with undulations defined by it’s cliff side location, and a feeling of spaciousness as you sit high above the surrounding countryside. The Course has many memorable holes, including the 16th tee shot which Peter Aliss described as “The best view in golf”. Although East Devon measures only a little over 6200 yards, with a par of 70 and some unforgiving drives, this is definitely a challenging round of golf.
Woodbury Park is a private 27-hole parkland course situated in the heart of the Devonshire countryside and is the perfect destination for a golfing getaway. The venue offers two golfing experiences, the par 73 18 hole course that stretches 7314 yards, and a par 32 9 hole course of 4582 yards in length. The impressive 18 hole course known as The Oaks, offers a challenging round of golf set in stunning parkland settings, boasting long rolling fairways lined with mature trees, fast well maintained greens and a number of water hazards dotted throughout the course. Woodbury Park is a particularly good venue for a stay & play break, with the additional 9-hole Acorn course, the luxurious Aura Spa and three on site restaurants, including The Terrace Bar & Grill where you can enjoy a drink while watching players approach and finish on the 18th green.