Named after the nearby farmstead, the Kigbeare golf course is the best of no fewer than seven layouts at the popular Ashbury Hotel – the UK’s largest golf facility.
It’s not a course to walk, nor is it for the faint-hearted. You’ll also need nerves of steel and a driving licence to manage a buggy around this unconventional site which traverses hills and valleys on the northern edge of the Dartmoor National Park.
I’ve played a few of the courses at Ashbury, and was a tad surprised to see it has made the Top 20 in Devon. I’m not sure what that says about Devon depth of top golf courses. The complex is great if you want a few days golfing away and with 7 courses plus swimming pool, indoor bowls, sports courts etc, you can have a fun filled few days full of sporting activity and a few beers to boot afterwards.
The Kigbeare is in my opinion the best of the courses at Ashbury. You certainly need a golf buggy given the distance between some greens and tees.
Not too many of the holes are standout, but the par 3 3rd, which is a long par 3 played down hill over 200 yards with a stream running across the front of the green stands out in the memory.
I enjoyed the round and thought the course was above what I would see on a municipal but not a course I would seek out. That said, the overall complex is good and value for money and choice of golf courses excellent.
I played the Kigbeare a few weeks back in a society event. Frankly I wasn’t expecting much at this popular 600-acre golfing (and much more) facility. The cost for the round (with buggy, coffee and bacon rolls and a two-course meal afterwards) was £25. How good could it be for that price?
I’ll remember the 340-yard downhill par four opener for a very long time and I’m very glad I put £2.00 in the twos sweep. We were the first group out – with a large audience I knocked my driver to two feet for a kick-in eagle. Naturally my score went deeper downhill than the opening tee shot. It was an unlikely start to say the least.
Let me stress that you will 100% need a buggy unless you want to walk the length of the course (6,500 yards) twice. Some of the distances between green and next tee are ridiculous, so the routing is, let’s say, not very good. However, there’s a lot of good stuff going on in between which makes this course worthwhile playing. It's a rollicking ride up the hills and down the valleys... make sure your buggy has good brakes. You'll need them believe me.
The elevation changes make for thrilling golf and some of the holes would not look out of place on many of Devon’s (non-links) higher ranked courses. Considering the course is a relative youngster you’d be pushed to guess as it’s routed (if you can call it that) through mature trees that formed part of Kigbeare Manor Farm.
The one-shot holes are all decent but maybe I’d prefer a short par three on the card rather than four holes that measure between 172 and 216 yards (three are over 200 yards long). That said, the drop 3rd is a thriller with a long carry over a brook.
Some of the greensites are rather mundane but there’s no shortage of thrills and spills on the Kigbeare. Although what goes down must go back up and the 18th (parallel to the 1st) is not a great finishing hole.
The Kigbeare won’t threaten any Top 100 lists, but it’s well worth a look if you happen to be passing Okehampton on the A30 en route to St Enodoc or Perranporth.
My £2 bet returned a handsome bag of cash (it was a rollover from the previous event). Nobody managed a birdie on any of par threes (testament to their difficulty). It was the best value golfing day I’ve ever had and I’d have enjoyed it every bit as much without a rare bird.