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8 miles W of Barnstaple
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If there is a need for another seaside Open Championship venue, then surely the East course at Saunton Golf Club is a worthy candidate. Saunton, of course, has never held The Open, but it has hosted other important events. Sergio Garcia won the Boys Amateur Championship here in 1997, beating Richard Jones 6 and 5.
Saunton is located on the beautiful unspoilt North Devon coast. On the edge of Bideford Bay and the estuary of the River Taw, lie the Braunton Burrows. Unesco has designated the sand dunes at Braunton Burrows of international importance and it is the first site in the UK to become a biosphere reserve. The area is unique because there are more than 500 species of flora; many including the water Germander, are extremely rare. This area will now rank alongside Mount Vesuvius and the Danube Delta.
The East course, laid out in 1897, runs through a small part of this amazing expanse of sand dunes. Herbert Fowler added a bit of redesign magic in 1919 taking full advantage of the natural terrain, routing the holes with skill. This is the man who was responsible for the masterpiece at Walton Heath and Saunton was perhaps his finest seaside creation.
Bernard Darwin fell in love with the ancient links situated just across the Taw estuary at Westward Ho! He frequently made the “reverent pilgrimage” to Royal North Devon. Darwin had probably never played the East course at the time of writing: “Saunton looks at first glance like a fine golf course.” Harry Vardon loved it, saying: “I would like to retire to Saunton and do nothing but play golf for pleasure.”
In 2017, the club commissioned an Historic Research Study on the East course. The report highlighted a devastating impact to Herbert Fowler's original design, caused by military activity during the Second World War. This resulted in an early 1950s C.K. Cotton restoration.
Today's East course is clearly very different to the layout enjoyed so much by Harry Vardon, but it's undeniably a tough course. With eight par fours measuring more than 400 yards long and only two par fives, low scoring is very difficult, even more so now that the 2nd hole (once a short par five) has been lengthened to almost 530 yards. There are two excellent short par threes, which demand accuracy, and there’s the tough 207-yard 17th hole, which often needs a solid crack with a wood.
Some commentators believe that the East course would benefit from another par three and another par five to break up the relative monotony of umpteen par fours, seven of which arrive back to back from the 6th.
However, surely nobody will deny that Saunton has 36 of the finest seaside links holes in England? The East course is considered to be Saunton's best, but the West is very good too, which combined make this an outstanding venue for a golf day.
Saunton is set on an amazing piece of land. It doesn’t feel quite as sandy as some other links, but the dunes, rumpled fairways and scenery make up for it. As a layout, Saunton East then lives up to its reputation.
This is a proper championship test, and although I was unsure about playing the white tees, I’m very glad I got to see more of what makes Saunton such an exam. You might get one or two relative breathers when playing downwind, but these still require thinking and correct placement from the tee. Raised tee boxes provide views but bring the wind even more so into play.
Once around the greens you’re given no respite. I’ve played a decent amount of links and both Saunton courses have the most sloped greens I’ve seen, with some tough pin positions that mean even short putts have to be played outside the hole. On the par 5 15th and its perched green, I even putted from the back fringe back down the false front and 20 yards down the fairway. Clumsy yes, but I’m not the first or last to do that.
There are many tough approaches with dunes, false fronts and bunkers protecting greens, but it’s still fair and scoreable for better players. Saunton is mentioned as a potential Open venue, it’s certainly hard enough but for me it lacked just that little bit extra grandeur that the real top tier links have. It’s not far away though and is well worth the trip to Devon, especially with another solid course on site.
I visited Saunton in August 2015 with my brother as part of a little ‘West Country’ trip that included Burnham and Berrow. So 4 years have passed and I still remember beating my brother on the last hole with a par on a below the clubhouse with my parents watching – so proud.
My actual course memories are limited, however I remember some truly beautiful holes with great views from elevated tees. The first is an elevated, severely unprotected tee and we played into a harsh wind – tough for sure and my splayed tee shot confirmed this.
Both courses (the other the ‘West’) on this site are brilliant and compliment each other well. I would love to return and play both in one day with lunch in the clubhouse, whilst critiquing golfers coming up 18 below you.
I remember the lovely driving range at Saunton. Hidden amongst the dunes, trying to hit the range targets with 4ft apex stingers was fun indeed. Another memory I have is a conversation with a member at Saunton about the membership price for juniors or youth members. The fee was so minimal it was criminal. For 36 holes, all you would need to do is play 5 times a year and you’re covered. And I certainly recommend playing here more than 5 times a year.
And I’ll repeat … I beat my brother!
Saunton East was the final course on my 3 week trip to play the Atlantic Links (or the links of the south west). Although I had heard countless stories by fellow golfers of the immaculate greens, brutality of the rough and all-round sheer quality of this golf course, my expectations were reasonably low. This was partially due to the hype around Trevose that, in the end, disappointed me so I went in with an open mind. I also had one question in my head that stuck with me throughout the whole round. Could Saunton East hold the open Championship. Although the final answer is no (and I’ll address this later in the review) it is fair to say that saunton east is easily one of the hardest and best golf courses I’ve ever played. In fact, I’ll even go as far as saying this in underrated. It is fantastic. From start to finish, your golf game will be stretched and torn and beaten up to the point where u wonder how a patch of land can offend you so much. Let’s start with condition. It’s quite an easy point because the answer is short. Immaculate. Greens are quick throughout the year and the fairways were the best I’d played throughout the trip (and that includes st Enedoc and Burnham). Now onto the design. Almost every hole is built within the dunes. These dunes aren’t ridiculously high like at St Enedoc, but big enough to not only frame the hole but create a hazard if you go into them. The fairways are reasonably flat, however, they are still rumpled and will kick your ball into every fairway bunker on the course!! When I say flat, I’m comparing them to the fairways are St Enedoc and west Cornwall which quite literally feel like mountains when walking over them. I’d compare them more to Royal St George’s. The bunkers are what makes this place extra special tho. Perfectly placed. U know this when you find your ball in them quite often! The fairway bunkers range from small pot bunkers to a few blow out bunkers. Either way, you aren’t going to get out of them with ease. 90% of the time it’s a take your medicine and chip out. The free side bunkers are all classic links style pot bunkers with huge faces and riveted walls. You know a bunkers is deep when most of them have a few steps to get you into them! The bunkers fit beautifully into the dunes as well, they aren’t just stuck there and look out of place. Each one is burrowed into either the mounding around the green or the dunes surrounding the fairway; it’s as if the bunkers were there long before the golf course. And then onto the rough. In fact, I wouldn’t call it rough. It’s more lost ball territory because 90% of the time you aren’t finding it. The rough isn’t exactly grass but more a combination of heather, fescue and thick bushes that gobble up your ball, never to be seen again. Besides the landscape in which they are built, the holes themselves are very strong. From the whites, which are the recommended tees for visitors to play off, most of the holes are very long punish you for not being straight off the tee. There are only 3 par 3’s at Saunton (east) but each one could easily be a signature hole at your local club. Each one is a carry over thick ‘rough’ and boasts an incredibly undulating green and heavily punishing bunkers. My favourite of these par 3’s however is the shortest hole on the course. The 117 yard 5th hole is the postage stamp of saunton. The green looks reasonably large off the tee, but the actual landing area is about the size of a table. A huge false front will kick any ball into the front bunker and anything long is, well, lost! If you really want to test yourself, go to the very back tee. The hole then stretches to 165 yards and is the hardest shot you will likely play all year. Many people say that Saunton is great until the flat holes. I can agree with this. Any other course like royal Liverpool for example would get away with this because of their landscape; however, the thrills at saunton are nestled within the Braunton Burrows and you are eager to continue playing within them whilst playing these holes. But don’t take these holes lightly. Bunkers are littered everywhere to make up for the lack off dunes and the gently sloping greens are nearly impossible to read without a well trained eye. And onto the closing stretch. The 16th is a dog leg left par 4 is shaded by towering dunes on the left of the fairway. The fairway is incredibly undulating compared to the rest of the course and The tee shot must be threaded through sand dunes and perfectly onto the fairway to have a good look at the green. The green is an up-turned saucer and anything long is lost ball territory. A 5 here will feel like a 3. The 17th is a stunning par 3 measuring around 200 depending on the tee position. It’s downhill but straight into the prevailing wind. From the tee, have a look around at the landscape and what you have just conquered (or tried to at least!) bunkers are everywhere on this hole And short is not an option if you want an easy up and down. This hole can be a total score wrecker. And finally, the 18th. And what a closing hole it is. The 18th at saunton perfectly sums up the hole course in one hole. There are towering dunes all around you, three deep fairway bunkers, a rumpled fairway and the most intimidating final tee shot you’ll find in England. The clubhouse is located right behind the 18th and the patio looks out and over the green. The patio is normally packed with loud members and visitors who are all watching you as you hit you final iron shot into (or around) the green. There are bunkers everywhere so make sure you finish with style, hit the green, make the put and go and get yourself a well deserved drink on the patio. Overall, I can’t really praise saunton higher for quality of course. Yes the views would’ve been nice but the quality of course layout completely makes up for this. I would place saunton east higher than Burnham and would definitely go as far as saying it’s a much harder course than St Enedoc, although st Enedoc is probably a better golfing experience. If it had the views, saunton would be my favourite course in the south west, nether-less it comfortably takes second place behind St Enedoc.
So now onto why saunton couldn’t hold the open. Is the course hard enough? 100%. In fact I’d say it’s level of difficulty is on par with Royal Birkdale and possibly even Royal St. George’s. It’s very similar to Birkdale, in fact, I’d probably say I prefer saunton because of its attitude and more relaxed feel of the club. Can it accommodate the players? Yes, the hotel could comfortably accommodate the players and possibly even some spectators. Is the course long enough? At this moment in time, the answer is no. From the members tees the course is no differnt to Birkdale in length, but what Birkdale has is the extra tee way back in the distance that can be used for the Open Championship. Saunton just doesn’t have the space to build a tee an extra 30+ yards back on some of its holes which is, in some ways, a shame because the course is definitely hard enough for a major championship but in many ways a good thing because it wouldn’t turn the club into a upper class, stick up club such as Royal St George’s. If you live within 3 hours of saunton it’s a must play. The price is very reasonable at £70-£100 depending on what day you go on compared to many courses that are £150+. If you don’t live close, the hotel is apparently very good with amazing sea views and the west course at Saunton is apparently also extremely good, but a bit shorter in length. Can’t wait to come back soon to play the west course to see if the starters claim of it being “equally as good” is true.
I wish I lived within driving distance of Saunton! The members here are some seriously lucky people. I often read in reviews about the debate of the best 36 hole golf complex in England and whilst my soft spot for Sunningdale will be hard to shift, Saunton must run it pretty close.
Saunton isn’t the easiest place in the country to get to, but if you haven’t ticked it off your list, it’s a must for any golf fanatic.
From the moment you leave your car and make your way to the clubhouse entrance, you pass the 18th green of the East and look out over the undulating fescue covered dunes, it has you salivating for the round to come.
The East starts with an elevated tee box that offers views of the task that lies ahead. It’s a fantastic opening hole played over a decent carry onto a pristine green fairway. The course then meanders through the dunes, throwing you in all different directions. I’ve seen some critics say that the East has too many Par 4s (13 in total, including a stretch of 7), but they are all so much fun, testing and different, that it really doesn’t matter. There are doglegs rights and lefts, short and long, uphill and downhill approaches, blind drives and holes that are laid out in front of you. What more could you want?
Of the rest, the Par 3s are a real test! How you find the dance floor on the Par 3 122y 5th is anyone’s guess. Certainly our fourball wouldn’t be able to offer any suggestions here.
And the 208y Par 3 17th, when playing into the wind, is a strong wood for even the biggest hitters.
The course is immaculate throughout. The care and effort they put into not just the fairways, but the run off areas, paths, land around the creeks is just incredible and rarely seen at other courses. The greens ran true and were beautifully contoured throughout.
I can’t say enough good things about this wonderful course and if there’s a better 36 hole links venue in England, I’m all ears. I can’t wait to come back.
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The members at Saunton are truly blessed having a club with two high class links courses. It’s well worth the effort to reach Saunton, not the easiest of locations to access but it won’t disappoint. I was able to play in early March just before lockdown on a typically blustery and showery day you’re pretty much guaranteed to get in North Devon, genuine links golf weather. Although early in the season the condition was excellent; the greens wonderfully true with excellent roll, a joy to putt on and thankfully the rough was pretty thin.
The course starts with an superb par 4 from an elevated tee which gives a great view of the courses, it then winds its way through the dunes with a great mix of dog legs and straighter holes which all ask strategic questions of how to play your approach and how bold should I be on the dog legs. Stand out holes for me were the 1st, 9th, the short 10th which tempts you to either launch one at the green or be sensible and the closing stretch from 15 in. To my mind there are probably too many par 4’s in row, a short par 3 in the middle would provide some variety and respite but given the quality of them it’s not major issue, just would add a little fun. It felt like there weren’t many bunkers (unless I just had a good day!) but if you find one it’s a proper punishment which you have punch out with a short iron in most cases.
Overall a great course, in my own personal ranking it doesn’t reach the heights of North Berwick (lacking that courses variety and quirks) but is still a very good course which should be on the bucketlist of anyone who likes links golf.
I spent my childhood summers by the sea, but the local golf course had moved inland before I was born, so my first real taste of links golf was at Saunton. It was a real epiphany and I have not looked back since. I have been back to Saunton several times since, though, so this review is not based on that distant memory of revelation.
The essence of my recommendation is this: There are better links courses in England, but if you start from the London-Bristol corridor and are looking to play as much quality links golf as you can during a week-end golfing break, the numbers ahead of Saunton shrink very fast. In fact, I would argue that Saunton’s two courses plus the unique Royal North Devon course at Westward Ho! across the bay would be very close to England’s best week-end links golf package!
If you have a more extensive tour in mind, I also happen to think that the Atlantic Links collection (Saunton, RND, Burnham&Berrow, St Enodoc, Trevose and Perranporth) is a very worthwhile alternative to more established "links tours" in Scotland and Ireland, so do put this place on your wish list if you have not yet been.
I really like Saunton, but do think it's overrated. 21st best course in England, better than Rye, The Berkshire, Queenwood, Burnham and Berrow, Hankley Common, Parkstone....? The list goes on.
I think there are a lot of good holes at Saunton, but very few great holes. It is consistent, which is good, and a good test. But you won't walk off thinking "wow" or being overwhelmed.
It is a must play if in Devon, and makes a lovely 36 hole day with the West. But I would put it down in the 40s in the country, and not 21st.
I have to say, my game was severely off when playing the East. I played awfully but this hasn’t dampened my view of the course in any way. If anything, I can’t wait to get back to do this great links course justice.
I know some people have complained that the holes are quite similar and bemoaned the lack of par 5s but when I look back at my round, I can picture each hole vividly and I find it hard to not consider this course as being one of the best in the country.
My only qualms with the course would be holes 6, 11 and 12 which are furthest from the sea and slightly less links like (but to be fair, would still be strong holes on most other courses).
My favourite holes were the 1st (a brutal opening hole with a great opening drive), 2nd (a good par 5 with a narrow green), 9th (good dogleg left par 4), 10th (a great short par 4 with a fantastic green complex), 16th and 18th (both strong par 4s).
Hit it straight and pure (I certainly did not!) and you can do well here. I think, overall, the West is slightly more interesting and covers the more varied ground but the East is probably the ‘better’ course. Rather than pick, play both. I’ll be going back to do the same.
Wow! What a day. If you play golf and have a couple spare golf balls you don’t mind losing then make your way over to this course. What an epic experience, one of the things I appreciated most is the warm friendly welcome and service all round by every staff member I came into contact with. Reception, pro shop, club pro and bar staff.
Top golf course in the UK without having to deal with poncy snobs. Thank you for the amazing visit. Golf course was impressive and condition was impeccable.
The East Course is rated better, but Both of these courses were brilliant, If you can, definitely try to play both! One of my favourite Golfing experiences
Many will debate that Saunton is the best golf club in the United Kingdom with two courses. Royal Portrush, The Berkshire, and Walton Heath are considered to be of a similar class (I have not played the Valley course at Royal Portrush). Royal Troon, Rye and Royal Dornoch are considered to be below Saunton due to the quality of their second course. In my mind only Sunningdale is above Saunton if one discounts resort courses. Thankfully, other contenders have three courses – Woburn, Gullane, Wentworth, and Gleneagles so at least the discussion is limited!
We stayed at the Saunton Sands hotel which offers a lovely outside heated pool and a long, wide beach for a roundtrip 4+ plus mile run. The hotel is close enough to the Saunton Golf Club that one feels almost as if you are staying at the club. More importantly, from the hotel one can see the high dunes that eventually form the beginning of both courses.
Four of us played the East course and after lunch two of us then played the West course. The wind was medium and no rain.
Much like Winged Foot, Sunningdale, or Baltusrol, one cannot go wrong whichever course one plays at Saunton. After my playing partner and I finished our second round (he is a better player), both of us thought the East to be superior to the West from a visual, playability, and enjoyment experience. The greens are superior on the East. We found the West to be slightly more difficult due to tighter driving areas. The West seemed to offer more character in the land on several of the holes as it felt closer to the dunes.
As an aside, the dunes that sit between Saunton Golf Club and the sea are amazing and seem to heave up and down forever. During my run on the beach I walked up to have a look at this area and there is no flat land anywhere. Good luck to anyone that one day might try to build a course there, although I assume it is environmentally protected. Sauton choose well when they decided to build the two courses inland from these dunes.
Our foursome found the front nine at the East course to be the stronger of the two nines. This is not to criticize the back nine, it is merely to point out how splendid the front nine is. We played the white tees due to the wind.
As much as I like the first hole at Burnham & Berrow, Saunton East is a much better beginning with the view from the elevated green. The long par 4 requires one to carry high dunes and heavy rough. There is a mound on the right that longer hitters will likely carry to try to get a better view of the hole, a slight dogleg left. Ditches run on both sides of the fairway but end well short of the green which is nestled upward between dunes and appears very skinny. It is an undulating green with deep bunkers on either side and bushes on the left. The back of the green sits between dunes and a pin placement back is very difficult. One cannot go long over this green as it is a challenging recovery. It is a starting hole that probably yields very few birdies, and more likely 5’s and 6’s. It is rated the third hardest hole on the front nine but we considered it as the second hardest on the golf course.
The second hole is fairly easy as a mid-length par 5. This hole seems to favor shorter hitters as there is more danger for those trying to hit between the dune and bunker on the right and a ditch on the left. The ditch pinches in on the right as well as the left, nearly across the entire fairway and then continues only down much of the right side. Fronting the green are three deep bunkers placed on the upslope. The green is up a bit and sloped from right to left and back to front. If one hits the fairway there is a good chance for birdie.
One can get a good look at the short par 4 third hole by looking for the back tee which is elevated. The line for the tee shot is on the edge of the left dune on this dogleg left. Rolling mounds line both sides of the fairway. The green is long but crowned sloping back to front. The green will kick approach shots either right or left into swales surrounding the greens with the deeper swale to the left. It I a very good par 4.
The number one index is next although we found this to be the third hardest on the front nine. This hole goes in the same direction as three, which is atypical on the routing to have two consecutive holes going in the same direction. It is a longer par 4 although not as long as the first, some 35 yards shorter. Mounds again line both sides of the fairway for the longer hitters with four fairway bunkers on the left for additional defense. Shorter hitters need to find the center of the fairway before the mounds. If one goes down the right side, a high dune can block the view of the green. The green is fairly large and has a false front but missing the green here offers a much better chance of recovery than previous holes. While this hole can result in a bogey, it is less likely to result in a double or triple bogey unlike the first hole. This is another good hole.
The first par 3 is a short one at only 122 yards but it is a beauty. Two large bunkers front the green with grass bunkers on the right. The green is crowned with severe run-offs all around although going long is a tougher recovery shot. I did pull off the recovery shot from behind despite the very undulating surface but one of our foursome made double bogey. All of us liked this hole and thought it to be nearly the equal to The Postage Stamp at Royal Troon Old.
The sixth is a slight dogleg left at 370 yards with a ditch running all the way down the right edge of the fairway. The green runs away from you and has mounds and a fall off mainly on the left. I recall this as one of the lesser undulating greens. If you find the fairway this is a fairly easy hole but if you do not then it requires a precise approach shot. It is a good, classic short par 4 yielding 3’s to 6’s.
The par four seventh hole reverses direction and is a mid-range par 4 at 428 yards. The left side provides the line to the hole if one can avoid the two bunkers left. The right side has rushes and out-of-bounds for the very wayward shot. A bunker left and two bunkers are at the front of the green with slopes off of the green. This is a good hole because it requires two well-struck shots and good decision-making.
The short par 4 eighth is routed towards the sea and generally one should be factoring in the direction of the wind. This hole caused me trouble although the blind shot from the tee over the high dunes is simple Missing the fairway leaves one in both taller grass and a likely uneven lie. The green lies in a dell on the left side of the fairway. If the green is missed, the chip is difficult due to the unevenness of the mounds surrounding the green. For a short hole, this one has a lot of defense.
A short par 4 finishes the front nine with another wide fairway going parallel to the sea similar to the seventh. Longer hitters will need to avoid both the bunker on the left side of the fairway and one much farther down which appears as if it is in the center, but is actually the perfect line down the right. The green has a deep bunker front left and is again surrounded by mounds and swales. The green itself is very undulated and is one of the top two greens on the golf course. It is an excellent short par 4.
The short driveable par 4 kicks off the back nine as long as one can either carry or get through the two deep bunkers fronting the green. This hole moves parallel to nine but in the opposite direction similar to the sixth. At 337/309 yards this hole perhaps favors the shorter hitter who does not take on the hole leaving a short club to the plateau green which is sharply tilted back to front and left to right. One should try not to go over the green (I did) which leaves a slick chip back to try to recover. The fairway is lined with bushes on the right and on the left are mounds as well as a large depression just in front of the green. This is another excellent short par 4.
Eleven goes away from the sea on a different line than any previous hole. This short par 4 is best played down the left side of the fairway as there is out-of-bounds and a ditch on the right corner. The bunkers on the left of the fairway and the green must be avoided but the real danger is anything hit slightly right of the green will go into the ditch. There is a lot of trouble for the short par 4 similar to nine and ten.
The longer par 4 twelfth plays diagonally to the sea, yet another new direction on the course.. It is a semi-blind shot given the tall grass in front of the tee. One should favor the right side for the approach. Rushes cross the fairway on a mound about 100 yards short of the green. The green is crowned and fronted by two bunkers. It is a good hole.
For only the second time on the course the next hole goes in the same direction as the previous hole. The mid-length par 3 thirteenth has a raised two-tiered green with a bunker front left and front right. It is a nice par 3 but not in the same class as those as Burnham & Berrow.
Reversing direction once again the fourteenth goes in the same direction as 1, 3, 4, 6 and 10. This likely plays back into the prevailing wind as a long 455/430 yards par 4. From an elevated tee, the fairway bunkers on the right must be avoided. The fairway then narrows almost to the same width as the 10th at St. Enodoc Church with uneven mounds and taller grass as the defense. The green tilts back to front. Despite my score on the hole, I thought fourteen to be one of the best holes on the golf course.
While fifteen has a nicely defended green with two deep bunkers at the front and a good tilt to it, it is too short as a par 5 at 477/462. It is a good opportunity for birdie, or for the longer hitters a chance at an eagle.
For the third and final time for consecutive holes, the sixteenth goes in the same direction as fifteen until it doglegs left. This longer par 4 is splendid with two bunkers on the right to defend against those trying for a better look into the green. On the left there is a hidden bunker and dunes all the way to the green. The green sits in the dunes off to the left and can be hidden due to a ridge fronting it. A marker behind the green provides the line to a green sloped left to right. I thought this to be the third best hole on the back nine.
Another good hole is the seventeenth which is a long par 3 of 208/188 requiring a carry over tall grasses and mounds to the green. The green has bunkers left and right. This hole requires a straight tee shot. This hole essentially goes in the same direction as eight.
Eighteen is a fine finish to a very good golf course. This is a dogleg right of just over 400 yards, par 4 going in the same direction as twelve and thirteen. There are three bunkers on the left as well as large dunes on either side. This hole has one of the larger greens on the course after the bunkers fronting it on the right and left then continuing for a total of five surrounding the green. For me this is the second best hole on the back nine as visually it is very appealing and it is well defended.
The East course is wonderful in that there are decisions to be made on the course regarding line off the tee and the type of approach shot one should hit. It is an excellent routing since only three times do holes consecutively move in the same direction. In addition, most holes are routed in slightly different directions thereby making a windy day either friendly or a foe.
The weakness in the course are the two par five’s both significantly too short. Each should be nearly 100 yards longer. The par three’s are good, but they are not in the same class as some other top golf courses.
There are some very good greens on the golf course, not in the same league as Burnham & Berrow in terms of condition, but definitely as interesting and well defended.
If this course had slightly more interesting terrain throughout the eighteen holes similar to St. Enodoc Church or perhaps had another 500 yards to challenge the better players, it could possibly be a world top 100 golf course as well as be a course others would strongly encourage to host an Open championship, (although very unlikely given the narrow road access to it and other infrastructure issues such as parking, hotels, and restaurants).
What an extremely intelligent and informed review! I adore Saunton East but my game is clearly not as refined as yours thus my perception more simplistic. I personally would rank it above St Enedoc... thanks for this review.
An extremely thorough review of which I concur with the vast majority.
Having played Saunton East over 20 times and often with members I would respectfully suggest that if you’d been able to play off the blue tees in a strong W or SW wind you would not think the course is 500 yards too short.
This is simply one of the best links courses in the country for a pure links experience, very reminiscent of Royal Birkdale in terms of layout and playability, which is about as high a praise as I can give.
The West course is very different, tighter, requiring more irons off the tee to be able to attack the greens but still a great place to play.
Can’t think of many better 36 hole links layouts, Carnoustie would be up there and I’m not playing at Portrush until next year now, but Saunton is right up there.