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.”
Didn't choose the best of days to play Tavistock (June 2022); started in the rain, lightning interruption and although the sun came out the 30-40mph wind made the course play really tough. Hole Nr2 into the wind was one of the toughest I have played and likewise rising from the 6th to the 11th to the top of the hill was a real slog.
A very open natural moorland course, and as a result of it's exposed nature greens would I guess never be kept very quick. Course condition really was very good, with the green surrounds being protected by low ropes and as a result bunkers well kept. Bit of a long walk around some of the ropes and some more directional signs to the next tee would have been helpful.
Thought the course started brightly with hole nr 3 an excellent par 4 and the double green at nr 6 quite a feature. After that it seemed to be an incessant rise up to the 11th green (the furthest point from the clubhouse), you then drop down for a few holes. Thee last four holes seemed a bit mundane, and I think the best of the course is actually holes 1-6.
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.