“Thurlestone was founded in 1897 on a massive rabbit warren, covered with scrub, brambles and gorse.” Wrote Peter Alliss in the Good Golf Guide. “Put another way, it was almost the ideal for golf – once the fairways had been carved through, and greens laid. Once this had been done, many balls were still lost but some provision was made for this. A device was kept in the clubhouse to stamp members’ initials on golf balls, and any found were supposed to be handed in to the professional. Original owners could then buy them back for a fee of twopence”
Nominated as a gem by David in November 2006, Thurlestone Golf Club is certainly still a gem but has now been awarded a coveted ranking position. David’s original nomination comments are as follows: “Thurlestone is one of the most beautiful courses in the South West of England – reminiscent of Pebble Beach, in places, and compared favourably with Pebble by none other than Peter Alliss. The first twelve holes, which are absolutely magnificent, go out right along the headland and verge on true links, while at the same time giving the turf a thick, springy quality that truly encourages a good strike on the ball. The course fades very slightly with three long par fives in a stretch of four holes which could be considered one too many, although the quality of the holes themselves cannot be doubted, before finishing with three very strong and truly memorable holes. It is one of my favourite courses that I have ever played.”
Thurlestone Golf Club originally started out in life as a short 9-hole course and was later extended and modified by Harry Colt and the routing of the course along the coastline of Bigbury Bay is dramatic to say the least. Views easterly to Bolt Tail headland and westerly toward Plymouth Sound create a distraction that is almost as challenging as the wind that often howls over the cliff tops. The par 33 front nine, which was the original 9-hole course, measures only 2,640 yards from the back tees but the last two holes on the outward half are particularly challenging par fours. The 3,500-yard par 38 back nine is where a score can be made, especially on the quartet of four par fives, which, as David mentioned earlier, may be considered one too many.
Despite the scorecard imbalance Thurlestone is a course to be enjoyed. As well as the golf, the club boasts three beaches and a dozen tennis courts which will keep most non-golfers happy for a few hours.
Played here on a sunny April day. Course well presented - greens about 6 or 7 on the stimp but rolling true. Fabulous views from almost every hole but especially the first seven which play along the cliff edge before the course climbs onto higher ground for the back nine. This was allegedly Colt's contribution but (apart from the wonderful 11th with its second shot having to be faded into a green perched on the edge of the course) it has too many blind tee shots up hills onto sloping fairways. The finish is good though - long dogleg par four 16th to an infinity green, then short par three to a massively deep green followed by the last, a two shotter off the forward tee with a memorable shot in to another raised green. Turf good, greens good, friendly club and the green fee is exceptional value for money. In terms of shot values it's not Pebble Beach, but it's at least as pretty.