A different style of course, Royal North Devon is rough-hewn and is not in the least bit polished. Therein lies its charm. Playing at Royal North Devon is the antithesis of sitting in a golf cart for a five hour round waiting for the group ahead of you to line up their fourth putt. This is golf at its simplest and purest. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the common land, the course is a bit rough around the edges. There are also no yardage markers, but only simple grey rocks to mark off 150 yards. The greenskeeper here clearly doesn't have Augusta envy like many courses in the U.S. This is a course where you play the ball where it lies, commune with nature and go back to the game's roots. If golf is a metaphor for life, then Royal North Devon is its best example: it's not all neat and tidy; rub of the green as it's called. Royal North Devon also features a lot of blind tee shots. There are aiming poles on quite a few holes, especially on the back nine, which plays away from the water and features an abundance of marshland grass. These grasses are called 'Great Sea Rushes' and you want to steer clear of them since they eat golf balls. The thirteenth hole is a 442-yard par five named "Lundy." It is a unique hole in several regards. First, it is short for a par five. Second, it is really a sheep pasture masquerading as a fairway, and third, the green is diabolical. How do you make a very short par five a difficult hole? Put in an inverted saucer green, make it circular and only 25 feet in diameter. I am embarrassed to say that I four putted the darn thing after being 10 feet off the green in two. This is golf from the old school, and although it probably won’t appeal to everyone, it is a special place to enjoy the game and its history.
Date: October 20, 2019