Teignmouth Golf Club is delightfully situated on a high plateau more than 800 feet above the quaint Victorian seaside resort of Teignmouth. On a clear day, the views from the golf course and the charming clubhouse terrace are simply breathtaking, with Portland Bill to the east and Dartmoor to the west.
One of the finest golf course architects of the “Golden Age” laid out the course at Teignmouth Golf Club. In 1924, Dr Alister MacKenzie of Augusta National fame, received a modest sum of £3,500 for his work here and some of the Dr’s best holes can still be found in South Devon.
The golf course at Teignmouth is routed across Haldon Moor, ground that many people back in the 1920s considered impractical for golf. But MacKenzie already had two magnificent Yorkshire moorland courses at Alwoodley and Moortown under his belt. The Teignmouth sceptics were soon quietened.
Dr MacKenzie’s “signature” of sloping, multi-tiered greens are in evidence at Teignmouth, in fact, little has changed since the 1920s, including the course yardage which is still only 6,082 yards from the back tees. The yardage may be modest but par is a lowly 69 from the white tips and this is a windy, exposed plateau, so do not expect an easy ride out on the golf course.Negotiating the six par threes is key to carding a good score at Teignmouth but none of these one shotters yield an easy par. The 16th is shortest par three on the card, measuring a mere 125 yards, but this hole is not called “Hell’s Mouth” for nothing. This innocuous looking par three is all about finding the green on the low side of the flag. Do not leave yourself a downhill putt on this hole or you’ll probably end up with a bogey or worse.
There’s a parallel between Teignmouth and Yelverton – both courses are lie of the land and both have their clubhouses located on the opposite side of the road to the course – although Teignmouth does have its opener on the clubhouse side. Additionally both courses have a mining heritage – tin mines at Yelverton and quarries at Teignmouth – and these man made hazards are incorporated brilliantly into the design at each club.
Cards on the table – we have Teignmouth currently placed too low in our Devon Best In County rankings. A couple of years ago the course was far from well maintained, but when we teed it up here today in early November it was immaculately groomed – the greens were among the best conditioned I’ve seen all season. Hats off to the greens staff for turning this rough diamond into a gleaming jewel.
Being negative is usually easy, but there’s very little to grumble about at Teignmouth. There’s a wonderful flow to the course and an exciting mix of holes – I especially liked the six par threes which are all varied in distance, ranging from 125 yards to 225 yards.
Occasionally, as at Cleeve Hill, it’s easier to play to handicap from the back tees. Not so at Teignmouth. The par is 71 off the regular men’s tees, but two of the par fives (#6 and #10) turn into brutal par fours off the competition tips. Some might complain that Teignmouth is too short for the modern era (6,082 yards from the back tees), but I’d say it’s just right as it is. If you’re a big hitter then you have the chance to fill your boots. But you won’t, because these authentic Dr Mac greens are simply fantastic and were probably stimping at around 10 today. Anything much quicker would render the course virtually unplayable for the average handicap golfer.
Bunkering can be a weakness at old golden age clubs where things have changed over the years and the traps have come and gone. Teignmouth has solid bunkering and most are in the right positions to penalise. I found three greenside traps today and the sand was perfect – my recoveries were pretty good too I must confess.
A minor disappointment was that there was no course planner available and there’s at least one hole where it would have come in handy. Ironically we both hit the green on the wonderful par three 11th, “Vardon’s Mount”, and we were both shocked by the deep quarry on the left before the green with its yawning bunker down below. You wouldn’t know this was a Biarritz from the tee, which would benefit from being raised to strike the fear of God into golfers. You simply can’t see the intimidating hazard from the tee, which is a shame.
There’s another quarry to cross on the final par three 18th (“Last Quarry”) which is also Biarritz-like. Many golfers don’t like a one-shot finish, but this is the toughest of all six par threes and a really good hole. The distinction of the prettiest par three goes to #16 (“Hell’s Mouth”), which again features a quarry. It’s visually a wonderful short par three which would grace any Top 100 golf course (see picture right).
Teignmouth is underrated and a very good golf course. I’m embarrassed that we haven’t flown the flag fairly for this cracking little moorland course. If you haven’t played it then do so immediately. If you don’t like it then you should sell your sticks and concentrate on Tiddlywinks. Keith Baxter
Great review. I was a junior member at Teignmouth and my dad was a member for 45 years and captain. I have always had a very high regard for the club and course. It is a gem that receives very little coverage.
The views alone are worth the green fee. If you haven't played at Teignmouth, make the journey ..... You won't be disappointed.
We played the course in February 2007 so we were playing some of the summer par 5s as long par 4s which made it very challenging. The par 3s are all a real joy having to drive over heather/gorse and valleys to hit the greens. Some of the par 4s are the same with reasonable carries just to get to the fairways. You have to keep it straight round here as the heather encroaches on quite a number of the fairways and if you’re not careful admiring the view could cost you a couple of shots in concentration as well.
I have recently played East Devon which is the same sort of course (and has a ranking on your site) – mixture of heathland but by the coast and whilst I would accept East Devon is a better course, a little more hilly and hence varied Teignmouth is not far behind and is equally as enjoyable.
The course was designed by Alistair MacKenzie – the designer of many a fine golf course (including Augusta!). So it has a pedigree. I have certainly played many more ordinary and less enjoyable courses on your web site that have an official ranking. I would suggest Teignmouth is worthy of a ranking and perhaps, because it is tucked away in deepest Devon, it has not received the notoriety it deserves. An excellent little hidden gem! Ian