Although Bath Golf Club (1880) is the founding father of Somerset clubs, Minehead & West Somerset Golf Club can fairly lay claim to possessing the oldest course in the county still playing along its original fairways.
Founded in 1882, Minehead & West Somerset’s original 9-hole course was laid out by John Allan (the professional at Royal North Devon) who also designed the oldest course in neighbouring Wiltshire two years earlier at Kingsdown Golf Club.
Minehead’s original course was laid out across an exposed rabbit warren bordering the shoreline of the Bristol Channel. In 1901 the course was extended to 18 holes when more ground further inland became available.
Undeniably the best holes are on the back nine, routed closest to the shore, where the links comes alive at the par three 10th, an interesting and well bunkered short hole that plays to the southernmost corner of the course. A Second World War pillbox serves as a stark reminder of darker days, counterbalanced by a cheery row of colourful beach huts.
The short par five 11th plays from an elevated tee at the beachside, from where there are gorgeous views across the Channel to Wales. Missing the fairway on the right from the tee is not an option and being wrong-sided on the extreme, two-tiered 11th green is simply asking for trouble. From here to the home green, which is situated precariously close to the clubhouse, there’s a run of solid and enjoyable links holes.
Minehead & West Somerset doesn’t have the same dramatic dunes or grand scale as enjoyed at nearby Burnham & Berrow, but make no mistake, Minehead is an honest links course with a modest green fee that won’t break the bank. There’s also the gorgeous ancient backdrop of Exmoor and the modern outline of the Skyline Pavillion at nearby Butlins.
Minehead is a pleasant seaside links course, offering some high quality golf at great value. At £50 for the day one would do very well to find golf of this standard elsewhere.
The course features many pure links holes with some more parkland-like holes added in for good measure. The first three holes are great links par fours; fast-running with plenty of undulation and some pleasant green complexes. I also enjoyed the seventh; a long par five with a generous landing area off the tee but with some cleverly placed bunkers which, especially into the wind, serve to make the player think carefully about their second shot. With the fairway bunkers and the presence of a hazard on the right, the prudent play may be to lay up short of this trouble, but the bold and accurate player is rewarded with a much shorter approach into the green.
The next two holes incorporate some 'lesser' holes to round off the front nine; these holes are strong enough but lack the true links course that most of the other holes offer.
Personally I think the tenth is a fantastic start to the back nine; the hole blends in to it's surroundings well and although short, there is a significant penalty for missing the target. This nine hugs the beach and has many very nice holes. My favourite on this inward nine was the twelfth, a tough par four into the wind and with a well-placed grass hazard across the fairway and a nice green complex. For me, the hole is not designed for the approach to be flown in (at least in the summer months), and it seemed rude to not try and run one in to make use of the contours of the land.
I also enjoyed the closing hole, a long par three and a tough hole no doubt, regardless of the wind direction. Playing over 200 yards from the tips, the hole demands control of distance and accuracy to find the putting surface. Again I think that this hole is suited to a running approach into the green.
Minehead is not the most challenging of courses, but it is a pleasant track with some challenging holes and offers a fun links experience at a fantastic price. Taking this into account I would highly recommend it.
Nice links course, friendly welcome at pro shop and lunch before playing nice too. Plenty of direction changes to keep you thinking in the wind. Good mixture of holes and in the wind, a tricky closing par 3 into a corner by the clubhouse.
Well worth a visit.
Course #298 in England and #433 worldwide
If you are seeking the joys of seaside golf in beautiful surroundings this ticks virtually all of the boxes.
It’s a lovely location for a golf course and the setting produces a pleasing mix of honest links golf, close to the coastline, and a gentler, more parkland style for half a dozen holes towards the inland side of the property.
I personally enjoyed the opening three holes as well as the long run for home, which starts as early as the 11th, and hugs the shore for most of the way. Whilst no doubt, others will prefer the section of the course away from the sea that has more trees and lusher fairways. The holes that did it for me contain many of the thrills and spills associated with classic links golf; rippling fairways, tight turf, excellently sited greens, strategically placed bunkers and exposure to a stiff breeze.
The greens were in fantastic condition on our visit in early April and were a joy to putt on. Many of the putting surfaces have subtle undulations whilst some are more pronounced. I can imagine Minehead plays well all-year round and is certainly suitable for golfers at all levels of experience. The beautiful views and inspiring setting ensures you won’t be disappointed with a visit to play golf in this gorgeous part of the country.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Nice little course that provides solid, if not spectacular, golfing territory. Some interesting holes and fairly generous lines off the tee should mean you’ll score decently.
I actually bettered my hcp by 3 and this was helped by the ding dong battle with a fellow I met on the 1st tee. At one point I was 2 up with 3 to play but a late hot putter squared the game and back to the 18th we went where a solid par from the Pommy got him the match and a beer.
The greens were solid, if not a tad slower than other links courses in the area, and like everywhere the fairways had plenty of run in them and required good contact with your strikes into the green. No real dunes to speak of and fairly flat ground overall.
At 19 pounds this was a bargain game and the course itself is probably a bit behind both Newquay and Bude so, although very enjoyable, it is a solid 3 baller only. Warren from Aust
I’ve played Minehead and West Somerset twice in the last twelve months, most recently at the end of January 2018 after one of the wettest autumn and winters on record. It’s a great course to play for not a lot of money when the going gets muddy at most other courses in the region. It’s not quite pure 100% links, as the soil on a few of the park-like holes further inland is heavier and the grass coarser.
There’s nothing championship or particularly taxing about Minehead, it’s just enjoyable seaside golf. I liked the opening trio of holes, which play on links ground, before the routing moves away to the softer more lush terrain adjacent to the River Avill. These holes (4-9) are not from the middle drawer but none are a pushover.
The course really gets going at the par three 10th which would benefit greatly from the removal of the scrub trees which obscure the bold bunkering and the interesting greensite. The 11th tee is where you get the first uninterrupted view of the beach and sea. It may only be a short par five, but its stroke index of 6 tells a story which isn’t totally apparent from the tee – however it’s blatantly clear that your tee shot mustn’t drift too far right or it will be beached. The two-tiered 11th green is one of the most unusual I’ve seen which is not tiered from back to front, but deeply tiered from side to side. Meaning you really do need a short iron in hand for the approach because finding the wrong tier will almost certainly result in a three putt or worse.
The remainder of the back nine is honest links golf that is not world beating, just enjoyable and the par three closer is a strong hole. There are some commentators who would place the 9-hole Channel course at Burnham & Berrow in the Somerset Top 10 ahead of Minehead & West Somerset. I personally think Minehead more than edges the Channel course and deserves its place in Somerset’s Best In County rankings. Maybe it should be higher than #10? Rating: 3.5 balls rounded up to 4 because I like the 11th green, despite the fact I didn’t par the hole on both occasions.