Founded in 1890, Tavistock is one of Devon’s oldest golf clubs and its crisp moorland turf and fast greens provide a links-like playing experience.
“As you walk the gentle slopes of this 6,500-yard course you look out at the rocky peaks of Dartmoor’s granite tors to the east,” wrote Ross Salmon in Devon Golf Clubs. “Westwards you can see the softer Cornish uplands, and to the south on a clear day there is a magnificent view as the rugged slopes blend into the lush Devon farmland that runs down to the sea.
There are no trees, nor are there any large areas of gorse or bracken. One has a feeling of playing in the wide open spaces of Dartmoor where the air is clean and pure as a mountain stream. You can hit your drive well off course on to the next fairway, and you can still have a shot to the green, so it is a course which the high handicap players will enjoy.
It is also offering a challenge to the better players because of the strategically placed bunkers, the natural hazards and the inhibiting doglegs on many of the longer holes.”
While walking to the third tee at Tavistock early one sunny April morning, I was lucky enough to snap a photo of a pony basking in a gorse-sheltered hollow with her newborn foal just behind the tee. Golf has delivered many magical moments down the years, but never before have I witnessed anything quite so moving.
She didn’t bat an eyelid as I drove off the third… the mare was clearly less impressed with my drive than I was with the encounter.
Tavistock is not a course that commands much attention, which is a shame as it’s a decent example of a fast-running, lie-of-the-land, moorland course that provides golfing interest with gentle orienteering.
In truth you don’t need a compass as the routing is intuitive, but there are a few ups and downs to negotiate which present awkward stances along with scattered stones that can also cause problems. There’s not a lot of topsoil on the fairways, so the firm turf generates more than enough roll shortening many of the holes. If the wind is down a good score is there for the taking.
An exception is the 205-yard uphill par three 14th, which shares a double green with the par four 6th. I found myself short-sided to the left of the green on this tough one shotter and left myself with an impossible up and down.
Overall I enjoyed Tavistock and firmly believe it’s worth a look if you’re in the vicinity.