Standing at the first tee at the East Course in Saunton is quite an experience. Classic links extend all around you as you reach for the driver (nothing else is a viable option, as the tee shot on 1 requires a 200 yard carry over impenetrable terrain). A word of advice at this point: it is advisable not to attempt such a hazardous tee shot having visited the local hostelries of North Devon on the previous evening. Such establishments are well known to lure unsuspecting golfers with their fair maidens and even fairer pricing policies. Unfortunately, this author was undone by this unique combination of hospitality and course design, but having recovered with enough to be able to be ‘put down for a seven’, it was on to the second where the sheer magnificence of this course simply rolled on. If Saunton was located in, say, East Lothian or the East Neuk, it would perhaps be considered to be one of the greatest courses on the planet. It has rightfully been mentioned as a possible additional Open venue. I personally do not believe that, at present, this course could support an Open Championship. Road access would be tricky, and, to be slightly critical, the clubhouse is not up to it. Changing facilities were Spartan, and the service and food in the bar/restaurant area left quite a bit to be desired. This is a course with so much potential – the 18 holes are near perfect. Whether the management of the complex have the acumen, or desire to turn it into something truly special remains to be seen.
Date: July 03, 2006