Teignmouth Golf Club is delightfully situated on a high plateau more than 800 feet above the quaint Victorian seaside resort of Teignmouth. On a clear day, the views from the golf course and the charming clubhouse terrace are simply breathtaking, with Portland Bill to the east and Dartmoor to the west.
One of the finest golf course architects of the “Golden Age” laid out the course at Teignmouth Golf Club. In 1924, Dr Alister MacKenzie of Augusta National fame, received a modest sum of £3,500 for his work here and some of the Dr’s best holes can still be found in South Devon.
The golf course at Teignmouth is routed across Haldon Moor, ground that many people back in the 1920s considered impractical for golf. But MacKenzie already had two magnificent Yorkshire moorland courses at Alwoodley and Moortown under his belt. The Teignmouth sceptics were soon quietened.
Dr MacKenzie’s “signature” of sloping, multi-tiered greens are in evidence at Teignmouth, in fact, little has changed since the 1920s, including the course yardage which is still only 6,082 yards from the back tees. The yardage may be modest but par is a lowly 69 from the white tips and this is a windy, exposed plateau, so do not expect an easy ride out on the golf course.Negotiating the six par threes is key to carding a good score at Teignmouth but none of these one shotters yield an easy par. The 16th is shortest par three on the card, measuring a mere 125 yards, but this hole is not called “Hell’s Mouth” for nothing. This innocuous looking par three is all about finding the green on the low side of the flag. Do not leave yourself a downhill putt on this hole or you’ll probably end up with a bogey or worse.
Off the back of Keith’s review, albeit 3 years old, we booked a round in at Teignmouth. What we didn’t plan on was Storm Francis and the 40+ mph gusts ! It didn’t however spoil our round.
Hailing from Yorkshire I have the pleasure of playing a few of the Dr’s courses on a regular enough basis - Alwoodley, Moortown, Sitwell, Sand Moor, Crosland Heath, Horsforth, Low Laithes, Cavendish to name but a few - so I was keen to see how his work looked down here on the South Coast.
And I wasn’t disappointed. This is a fantastic gem of a course laid out over a plateau, which on a day like today was very exposed to the winds and gusts. That said, because the course is quite short, the clubbing up as I frequently had to do, didn’t impact good scoring.
The greens were very receptive after last nights rain, but ran true and quite fast. The only downside to the greens were that they were infested with grubs. The fairways on the other hand were very poor in some places, notably the 1st hole, where I commented to my partner, I’d seen better municipals,. After crossing the road, the fairways were in better condition and ran quite fast. The only poor spell came after the delightful par 3 11th, 12-14 were particularly shabby. I’m not sure whether the very dry spell in Mar-May nearly lost these fairways and they are still recovering, but it took a gloss and at least half a ball off the review score.
Turning to the mix of holes, playing off the yellows provides better scoring chances as you have 5 par fives c/w only 2 off the whites and less than 300 yards between the 2 tee choices.
The pick of the holes were the par 3’s, all excellent holes in design and difficulty, mixing yardage from 127 yards to 225 yards. On the latter, with the gusts, the 225 yard par 3 18th was playing 325 yards according to my Arccos. It made for a fun ending, with the short par 4 17th playing almost as a par 3 at 210 yards today ( tees had been brought forward) and then the par 3 ending playing as a par 4.
The par 3’s come thick and fast:
2nd - a visually pretty hole, playing 150 yards, all carry over heather and bunkers to the front.
5th - at 164 yards this was playing at least 30 yards longer, again over heather and protected by bunkers to the front left
7th - 208 yards into a stiff wind. Trouble to the right with bunkers and the quarry. Aim left edge.
Talking of quarries, the quarry complex comes into play on holes 11, 12 and 16. This is very similar to Crosland Heath in West Yorkshire, another Dr design.
The 11th is a par 3 and off the tee you feel that you need all carry 200 yards given the hazard you can see in front of you. When you get down towards the green you realise there is more of an escape route in the quarry than you would be led to believe and in fact there is a bunker in the quarry bottom to catch errant drives.
The 12th you tee off over the quarry, so it shouldn’t come into play, but it certainly does on the par 3 16th, at 125 yards, more devilish than the yardage suggests. I walked off with a par and was happy.
The pick of the par 4s for me was the 8th; visually it is really appealing to the eye as you tee from an elevated tee, across the quarry, and the fairway sweeps round to the left to a raised green.
The other strong par 4 is the 15th, at 444 yards into the wind, and playing your second shot across a road which cuts through this hole and also hole 12. The cars do not slow down so beware, a quirky addition to the round. The hole plays down to a green tucked to the left.
Only weak hole for me was the 17th, the short par 4 which looked like a big field off the tee - I’d grow the rough in from the left hand side more, making it even more risk/reward. Safe option is play to the trees on the right hand side and a short chip down to the green.
And the 18th, over a quarry and whilst not a fan of par 3 finishes, this was a par 4 today with the wind and walking off with a 4 I was happy enough.
Looking at the Top 100 rankings, this is certainly a level below the potential of East Devon but an excellent track all the same, very cleverly designed by the good Dr. Pity the fairways and lack of bunker maintenance (grass growing in them) took the gloss off, because even with the wind it was a joy to play. I wouldn’t want to pay £45 to play but at twilight £22.50 it was excellent value.
Absolutely loved Teignmouth and wonder why I haven't made the trip before. Played in their 2018 festival week and the course was in good condition with excellent and well paced interesting multi-tiered greens and fast running sloping fairways bounded by heather and gorse. Can't disagree with Keith Baxter's review, other than I thought perhaps one too many par 3's with the two early ones at two and five perhaps the weakest holes on the course. Toughest hole was I thought the 15th, a long par with fiendish slopes around and on the green, and this was followed by a unusual but interesting finish including two par 3's and a short driveable par 4. Estuary views across to East Devon and Lyme Bay just add to the delight, indeed the course in places reminds me of East Devon and also in places Broadstone. Nearly a five ball but not quite, but a real Devon gem
There’s a parallel between Teignmouth and Yelverton – both courses are lie of the land and both have their clubhouses located on the opposite side of the road to the course – although Teignmouth does have its opener on the clubhouse side. Additionally both courses have a mining heritage – tin mines at Yelverton and quarries at Teignmouth – and these man made hazards are incorporated brilliantly into the design at each club.
Cards on the table – we have Teignmouth currently placed too low in our Devon Best In County rankings. A couple of years ago the course was far from well maintained, but when we teed it up here today in early November it was immaculately groomed – the greens were among the best conditioned I’ve seen all season. Hats off to the greens staff for turning this rough diamond into a gleaming jewel.
Being negative is usually easy, but there’s very little to grumble about at Teignmouth. There’s a wonderful flow to the course and an exciting mix of holes – I especially liked the six par threes which are all varied in distance, ranging from 125 yards to 225 yards.
Occasionally, as at Cleeve Hill, it’s easier to play to handicap from the back tees. Not so at Teignmouth. The par is 71 off the regular men’s tees, but two of the par fives (#6 and #10) turn into brutal par fours off the competition tips. Some might complain that Teignmouth is too short for the modern era (6,082 yards from the back tees), but I’d say it’s just right as it is. If you’re a big hitter then you have the chance to fill your boots. But you won’t, because these authentic Dr Mac greens are simply fantastic and were probably stimping at around 10 today. Anything much quicker would render the course virtually unplayable for the average handicap golfer.
Bunkering can be a weakness at old golden age clubs where things have changed over the years and the traps have come and gone. Teignmouth has solid bunkering and most are in the right positions to penalise. I found three greenside traps today and the sand was perfect.
A minor disappointment was that there was no course planner available and there’s at least one hole where it would have come in handy. Ironically we both hit the green on the wonderful par three 11th, “Vardon’s Mount”, and we were both shocked by the deep quarry on the left before the green with its yawning bunker down below. You wouldn’t know this was a Biarritz from the tee, which would benefit from being raised to strike the fear of God into golfers. You simply can’t see the intimidating hazard from the tee, which is a shame.
There’s another quarry to cross on the final par three 18th (“Last Quarry”) which is also Biarritz-like. Many golfers don’t like a one-shot finish, but this is the toughest of all six par threes and a really good hole. The distinction of the prettiest par three goes to #16 (“Hell’s Mouth”), which again features a quarry. It’s visually a wonderful short par three which would grace any Top 100 golf course (see picture right).
Teignmouth is underrated and a very good golf course. I’m embarrassed that we haven’t flown the flag fairly for this cracking little moorland course. If you haven’t played it then do so immediately. If you don’t like it then you should sell your sticks and concentrate on Tiddlywinks. Keith Baxter
Great review. I was a junior member at Teignmouth and my dad was a member for 45 years and captain. I have always had a very high regard for the club and course. It is a gem that receives very little coverage.
The views alone are worth the green fee. If you haven't played at Teignmouth, make the journey ..... You won't be disappointed.
Teignmouth Golf Club in South Devon is a wonderfully natural heathland course set in an outstanding location with 360-degree panoramic views from its elevated position above the town and the South Devon coastline. The course is not overly long and is quite flat, but the layout and variation in holes makes it very enjoyable and the quality of its conditioning mean that the greens, fairways and tees are in good condition all year round.
We played the course in February 2007 so we were playing some of the summer par 5s as long par 4s which made it very challenging. The par 3s are all a real joy having to drive over heather/gorse and valleys to hit the greens. Some of the par 4s are the same with reasonable carries just to get to the fairways. You have to keep it straight round here as the heather encroaches on quite a number of the fairways and if you’re not careful admiring the view could cost you a couple of shots in concentration as well.
I have recently played East Devon which is the same sort of course (and has a ranking on your site) – mixture of heathland but by the coast and whilst I would accept East Devon is a better course, a little more hilly and hence varied Teignmouth is not far behind and is equally as enjoyable.
The course was designed by Alistair MacKenzie – the designer of many a fine golf course (including Augusta!). So it has a pedigree. I have certainly played many more ordinary and less enjoyable courses on your web site that have an official ranking. I would suggest Teignmouth is worthy of a ranking and perhaps, because it is tucked away in deepest Devon, it has not received the notoriety it deserves. An excellent little hidden gem! Ian