Warren - Dawlish - Devon - England

Warren Golf Club,
Dawlish Warren,
Devon,
EX7 0NF,
England


  • +44 (0) 1626 862255

“If, besides golf, you can list your recreational activities as bird watching, train spotting and naturalism (that’s the one in which you keep your clothes ON),” wrote Kevin Lee in The Golfers Guide to the West Country, “then a visit to the Warren will make you think you have died and gone to heaven.

Not only is this the only true links course in south Devon – it has been referred to, and with some reason, as the ‘St Andrews of the South’ – but is situated on a narrow peninsula, in truth not much more than a wide spit of land, between the sea and the estuary of the River Exe.

The area is an internationally-renowned wildlife conservation area, flat as you might expect, with the usual enemies on a links course, such as narrow fairways, gorse, heather, naturally-occurring bunkers, the odd sandhill, a none-too-friendly wind and the occasional train. This being Dawlish, the coastal railway line is never that far away, although far enough never to disturb the peace, except on the 18th.

The last hole is exceptional in that, from the white markers, the tee is on an island when the tide is in, and players have to cross a little bridge to get to it. It shares a fairway with the first and the green nestles below the Paddington-Penzance West of England main line.

The other hole which will burn itself onto the memory is the seventh, which tempts you to play across a bay on the estuary, but slightly too far right lands you among the bucket-and-spade brigade on the beach.”

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Reviews for Warren - Dawlish

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Description: The Warren Golf Club is set on narrow promontory which is also a National Nature Reserve. This is the only true links course on Devon’s south coast and it’s a natural beauty. Rating: 5 out of 10 Reviews: 7
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Ed Battye

It’s a real shame that Warren Golf Club, located at the seaside town of Dawlish Warren in South Devon, was omitted from the “True Links” book showcasing the 246 true links golf courses of the world.

I’m sure The Club would have welcomed and appreciated the inevitable additional visitor footfall this would have brought.

It is obviously a genuine error because there is no doubting that this delightfully rustic layout meets all the criteria the authors set for inclusion. Indeed in many ways the course is a throwback to how links golf will have been played many decades ago and it certainly succeeds in capturing a moment in time.

Situated within a nature reserve on a narrow spit of land in the mouth of the Exe estuary the 18 holes, which stretch to just less than 6,000 yards, is surrounded by innate beauty. In the main the linksland is firm and has that crisp, rugged seaside feel to it where you might not always find perfect turf under your ball…. but you will always be able to play it as it lies.

The actual layout of the course has not changed much since 1927, although the forces of nature mean that there is continual maintenance on the estuary side of the course.

The nature reserve provides a major roosting site for wading birds and migratory waterfowl, and serves as a habitat for the endangered petalwort plant. It is also one of only two sites in Britain where the Sand Crocus grows, locally known as the Warren Crocus.

The land towards the marsh side of the slender promontory is a little softer and here you will find a few tiny ponds in natural wet spots to aid drainage. From a playing perspective they don’t really bring much to the party but they grab your attention nonetheless.

There are some nice green complexes on the way to the turn; in particular a basin green at the short third and a well sculptured one at the sixth where you literally shoot to the very tip of terra firma. The eighth also boasts a well located putting surface on a plateau.

Gorse-lined fairways are in abundance during the middle section of the course where the scorecard chews up plenty of ground. The yardage for holes nine thru 12 are; 431, 462, 510 and 477. The latter two are admittedly par fives but there is a lot of walking between hitting.

You must, or at least can choose to, flirt with the sea at the seventh on a very unique hole whilst most of the final five holes also play along the edge of the coastline. The last doesn’t but this finishing hole is perhaps the most unusual of the lot with a green parked tightly between the entrance road (which you must cross with your approach) and a high wall and fence protecting the railway line. The clubhouse itself and the car park are also very much in play! It’s a hole that wouldn’t be built today and that is a shame because it’s a wonderful way to end an old-school round of golf.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

June 27, 2019
4 / 10
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David Rimmer
I have always been a big fan of The Warren - for me it's a very relaxed seaside links with some excellent views across the estuary. However my recent visit was to a place that appears to be in significant decline and left me wondering what the future holds for this great little course.First the good points: - £20 for a visitors green fee is good value in anyone's book.- the greens as always were in good condition and offered just enough give to get some stop on the ball. - Additionally, the weather was perfect and as such the views were superb.Now for the bad bits:- pro shop closed. Not great when you only have 3 balls in your bag on a course that has its fair share of gorse bushes. Luckily I hit it pretty straight.- bunkers in shocking condition - most of the ones I visited looked like a herd of elephants had been through them- fairways on the front nine in particular were in a very poor state. I know it's a links course and they should be nice and brown, they shouldn't however be full of rabbit scrapes, big cracks, scruffy grass and weeds. The back 9 in general was in much better condition.Overall, the place has the feel of club that is struggling, which is a real shame, because with a little TLC it could be a gem.I hope to return next year and be able to write a more positive review.
July 28, 2014
4 / 10
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David Baxter
Thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Dawlish Warren; despite recent rain the course was very playable and the greens true, albeit a touch slow. As the other reviews indicate this is not a long course, but there are a few long par 4's, with the 9th into the wind at 462 yards and gorse all down the left a real tough hole. A tight course with lots of short par 4's, I thought the 2nd was an excellant hole, also the 4th, and really enjoyed tee shots at 6, 7, 12, 14 and 15; some of the tee shots are right on the estuary which just adds to the enjoyment. Biggest let down was the par 3's which were all fairly similar. Shared fairways just add to the novelty factor. A real fun course
October 15, 2012
6 / 10
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Dave R
October 15, 2012
Really good as you have rightly highlighted albeit I would take issue with your view of the par 3's. The 3rd requires a mid iron to a really tight green, the 5th is a similar sort of the length, however the 8th is the thick end of 200 yards usually into the wind to a raised green which usually requires a fairway wood or rescue club. On the back 9 the 13th is usually a flick with a wedge and the 16th is a really demanding mid iron to a semi blind green with water lurking for a poor short. Overall, holiday golf a it's best with stunning views on a great day with bargain green fees to boot.
DAVID BAXTER
October 16, 2012
sorry Dave R it wasn't mean't to be a total criticism of the par 3's, more a reflection that I felt the par 4's were better; the par 3's certainly weren't easy and also on the day the 13th was into the wind and the 8th with the wind which sort of levelled them out. Anyway at least we agree the course is really enjoyable and I for one will be back next year for a visit. Also I forgot to mention how friendly the staff were. DB
Reutercrona
Warren Golf Club is tucked away south of Exeter (near Dawlish) and is located on a sand spit which faces straight up the Exe Estuary. The setting is wonderful with panoramic views across the whole bay. Whilst the course is not overly long, it is made quite tight with the addition of gorse and heather naturally complementing its seaside surroundings. You would class this course as a links and it does play as such – I played this course in December and the greens were in fantastic condition, the variation in holes made this a wonderful experience – tight par 3s and short but testing par 4s to a couple of very long par4s and 5s many guarded with well maintained bunkers. The location alone for me makes this a gem, but the layout is a real joy and offers something quite unique to many other links and coastal courses. Would be confident that anyone would enjoy a round on this course! Ian
April 21, 2011
6 / 10
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Niall
Not quite as bad IMO as the previous two posters suggest. It is tight in places but so are many golf courses from this era. The ground is pure links and the condition is usually pretty good with hard and fast playing surfaces. One of the prettiest locations for a little links course you will find in England and I think it's one of the West Country's hidden gems.
January 31, 2011
6 / 10
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Keith Baxter

First of all a word about the setting… stunning. Secondly a word about the par three 8th… outstanding. Sadly, as a whole, the Warren doesn’t fit together very well. It is shoehorned into a parcel of land that is simply not big enough for an 18-hole course, 12 holes would sit here very comfortably but 18 holes make for scary golf when the course is busy (take your tin hat).

The opening hole and the closing hole are very weird. The first drive cuts across the road and the corner of the car park while the closing hole plays to a sunken green set hard to the high metal fence of the railway line... surely this should be used as a practice green? There are some nice holes on the way out and a couple on the way back, but it’s all a bit too tight and hemmed in for my liking. I'd be surprised if James Braid originally laid the course out as an 18-holer.

February 15, 2009
5 / 10
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Keith Baxter
July 18, 2020

I returned to the Warren at Dawlish earlier this month, more than ten years after I first teed it up here. I think my 2009 sentiments are too harsh. The main challenge for the club is that the property is part of a SSSI Nature Reserve and there are so many restrictions preventing the course from playing anywhere near its full potential. The weed to grass ratio on the largely bare fairways is 50/50 and while this is not ideal (to say the least) it does not detract from a round of golf on a course that fervently harks back to yesteryear.

Warren Golf Club Dawlish - 6th green

The front nine is much stronger than the back, or at least if feels more spacious. There was much more to enjoy than just the stellar 8th hole. The 7th sweeps around the Exe estuary daring golfers to bite off more than they can chew and the green complex on the 12th is among the most unusual I’ve ever seen with its raised circular platform sited in the back left quarter of the green.

If the club could remove some badly positioned gorse bushes (which they can’t), sightlines from a few tee boxes would be greatly improved. Since I was last here a good number of drainage ponds have been installed along the marshy estuary holes… I’m not convinced about the placement of some of these.

Yes it’s still too tight for comfort on a few homeward holes and the 18th is one of the weirdest closers I’ve ever played… but, it has one of the coolest back tees I’ve ever come across on a links course, marooned on its own little island in the estuary and reached by a wooden footbridge.

My drive on the last caught the right side of the fairway, requiring an approach directly over the roof of the clubhouse (and the entrance road and clubhouse car park) to the sunken green that’s set below the railway line and hard against a high metal fence. Thankfully the shot came off and found the front of the very long, narrow green.

If you like your golf to be fun, have a sense of humour and can live with a bit of rough (and ready), you’ll be grinning most of the way round. Heck, I’m upping my rating from 3 to 3.5.

Malcolm Searle
I played here recently and this is the quirkiest course I’ve ever played. The location is both its greatest asset and was at the same time a big constraint on how much I enjoyed playing it. The outstandingly glorious spit of land it occupies is not quite big enough for a full 18 holes, so there have been by necessity some compromises made, firstly the course is relatively short at 5534 off the yellow tees, and there’s one shared fairway (the 1st /18th), the 10th and 11th were so close and narrow that they were in practice shared on the very busy day that I played. I also thought that some of the greens and tees boxes were too close together – especially around the tee box of the 8th - there was a significant risk of slightly wayward shots resulting in golfer’s drives on the par 3 8th landing on occupied tee boxes, I witnessed this three times on my round, which made for nervous driving!But far be it from me to criticise the great James Braid, as he succeeded in shoehorning 18 holes into land that would only have room for 12 holes if the course were designed these days.On the positive side, the course was enjoyable to play, the views over the estuary of the River Exe were fantastic, the course will punish any wayward shots into the impenetrable gorse and heather. The members were friendly and most hospitable, and I imagine that if the wind gets up the course is a completely different proposition and maybe then I would be grateful that it’s not a 7000 yard monster.I would imagine it gets very busy here in the summer, as the area looks like a popular English Riviera holiday destination.
January 02, 2009
4 / 10
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