Saunton (West) - Devon - England

Saunton Golf Club,
Braunton,
North Devon,
EX33 1LG,
England


  • +44 (0)1271 812436

Saunton Golf Club is located on the beautiful unspoilt North Devon coast. On the edge of Bideford Bay and the estuary of the River Taw, lie the mountainous Braunton Burrows – one of the largest systems of sand dunes in England.

The West is the second course at Saunton and was originally laid out in the mid-1930s by Herbert Fowler as a short holiday track. The land was used as a training ground during the Second World War and it lay dormant for over 40 years. Frank Pennink brought the West back to life and the course opened for play in 1975.

According to Frank Pennink's Choice of Golf Courses, published in 1976, "the pre-war New Course is now rapidly coming into play, designed jointly by the Secretary [J.W.D. Goodban] and myself... For reasons which I will not go into now, apart from its inherent character and charm, Saunton is one of my favourite links, and the New Course seems destined to become equally popular."

The West is slightly shorter than its older sister – the East – but, nonetheless, it represents a fine test, now measuring nearly 6,600 yards from the blue back tees. It challenges the very best golfers, playing host to a number of County Championships and the EGU Seniors Championship.

It’s a more than worthy understudy to the East, requiring accuracy from the tee. Both courses at Saunton have par set at 71, but the configuration of holes on the West’s inward nine is unusual and more varied than its older sibling. Three back-to-back par fours in the middle and three par threes and three par fives interspersed at the beginning, and then again, at the end.

A number of narrow streams (if we were in Scotland we’d call them burns) come into play and many of the holes feature doglegs. Apart from the opening hole, which plays directly through towering dunes, the rest of the course plays over pleasant undulating links land, where the dunes are far less imposing.

Tom Mackenzie has recently completed a West course renovation and commented as follows: "In 2016, a significant package of work was under-taken on the West Course, adding drive bunkers, re-aligning ditches and adding tees. The aim was to close the perceived gap in standard between the two courses."

The West is undeniably a very good course and some would say that alongside the mighty East, the West plays second fiddle, while others have it in the leading role.

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Reviews for Saunton (West)

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Description: The West is the second course at Saunton Golf Club and was originally laid out in the mid-1930s. It’s shorter than its older sister but, nonetheless, the West represents a challenge. Rating: 7.6 out of 10 Reviews: 38
TaylorMade
Jim McCann

The first thing that strikes you as you look out from the front of the clubhouse is the vastness of the landscape before you – over 400 acres, I’ve heard. There’s so much land untouched that I’ve been told by someone who’s walked through the dunes that a third course could easily have been laid out in and amongst the sand hills - though maybe not nowadays, of course, with the (environ)mental lobby protecting our precious numbers of snails and the like living on our coastal fringes.

Saunton (West) - photo by Jim McCann Anyone who visits Saunton must surely warm up for the East by playing the West; just don’t expect it to be an easy stroll because it isn’t. Measuring a comfortable 6138 yards off the white tees with a SSS of one less than the par of 71, the West can flatter your game (as it did mine) in benign conditions but it will test your game nonetheless.

I found it hard to believe the course had only been in existence for less than 35 years as it had the feel of a links that had been there for a very long time. I really enjoyed the short holes, even if they were a little long with only one of the five par threes less than 177 yards off the tee.

Two of these testing short holes are played at 16 and 18, either side of an eminently birdieable par five, adding a nice match play twist to the end of the round. Indeed, my partner and I found ourselves two down with three to play then proceeded to win all three closing holes for a 1 up victory – did I mention earlier how much I liked the par threes here?

Jim McCann

April 07, 2009
8 / 10
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Carl Tushingham
This course is wonderful in its own right, but will always be overshadowed by its big sister East course, if this course was on its own I think it would get even better reviews. Unusually the best holes here are the 1st and 2nd, two fantastic par 4's that wouldn't look out of place on the East course here. You wouldn't think the course was only 30 odd years old it seems like its been there nearly as long as the East. The greens here are very true and the whole course was in very good condition for November. Many interesting and unusual holes here, look out for the 7th in particular. Really enjoyed this course and would recommend it highly, your be hard pushed to find 36 holes better than this.
December 04, 2008
8 / 10
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Christo
Although it is definitely the junior of the two courses, it's still very good indeed, and the second half of a very enjoyable day’s golf amongst the same rolling dunes. It’s not a long course at 6400, but a good iron player will beat a long driver every time as you need to be precise. Some greens are tightly nestled amongst the dunes, so their thick rough can come to within a couple of feet of the putting surface and you can make 6 from nowhere. Conversely, there are also some great sweeping green surrounds to bump and run. You can almost always see the putting surface from the fairway, which many people prefer. The most divisive feature of the course is probably the ditches that zig-zag around a number of the holes, and border a number of dog-legs. They often force an iron from the tee hit into the corner of the dog leg. They make the course play longer than its yardage by stopping you hitting woods from the tee, but can be a little frustrating. The course is actually not that old (1970s), but feels like it has been there a lot longer. The greens were all replaced 20 years ago and are true, if not was slick as many of the longer established links courses. Of the holes, the 15th is one of the great short par 4s that gets harder the closer you drive to the green. The opening par 4s are lovely and the par 3 4th is a treat, especially if the pin is tucked away. I probably wouldn’t make the trip just for the West course alone, but in combination with the East it’s a very worthwhile day.
September 28, 2008
8 / 10
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paul
They say that the West course is the easier of the two courses! I have to disagree, it may be shorter but of the tee it is much tighter and the fairways are very narrow. This is a great Top 100 course and deserves to be in there with its Sister Course the East. If visiting Devon it should not be looked on as the poor second course but as another must play, we played both courses in September and the wind did blow!!! Both courses are a must for “Links” lovers and offer great value green fees with a bar meal thrown in for good measure.
October 11, 2007
6 / 10
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Richard Davies
Though slightly less difficult than its neighbour this is still a hell of a test of golf. Wonderful scenery and holes that require your best game or prepare to lose lots of balls. I found it to be one of the hardest courses I have played and if the wind gets up it must be a nightmare! Well worth the visit.
August 28, 2007
8 / 10
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Hugh
On a trip to Devon in the summer of 2006 we played the West Course in the morning and the East in the afternoon. Saunton has to be one of the friendliest clubs in the southwest and the guys in the pro shop looked after us really well. I have to say that quite a few of us enjoyed the West course more than the East, but perhaps tiredness kicked in after a great lunch which was included in the day ticket price. The West has fast greens, some blind shots, and is a great little links course in its own right. Pulpit the P3 16th is a cracking hole but honestly there are no weak holes on the course and despite the fact that it doesn’t have the length of its big brother the East, the West is definitely the real deal. You need to be on top of your course management and have your wits about you, especially off the tee. It’s a little cracker!
January 23, 2007
8 / 10
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Hugh
Saunton is the perfect place for a full day of golf, it’s a fantastic club and I doubt if a day here could be beaten anywhere in England. The wild and rugged sand dune setting make this an inspirational place to play golf. The West has some classic and memorable holes and it will test the best golfers just as much as its big brother the East. It’s fabulous and a must for links lovers.
April 21, 2005
8 / 10
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Hugh
Not quite up to the standard of the truly fantastic East course, but the West is a wonderful classic links nonetheless. It's not of championship length, but it has everything going for it and it's an exacting test of golf. Don't expect to play to handicap first time round... there are plenty of nuances here. From an interest perspective, I think the West has an edge over the East. Anyway, with two courses of this quality, Saunton should be at the top of any serious golfer's must-play list.
December 30, 2004
8 / 10
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