Devon is the only county in England to have two separate coastlines. To the north there’s the largest sand dune system in England, numerous sandy surfing beaches and the highest and most rugged coastline in southern England where Exmoor tumbles down to the sea. The south coast is equally diverse with pebble and sandy beaches and red sandstone cliffs that are now part of England’s first natural World Heritage Site, known as The Jurassic Coast. Throw Dartmoor into the equation with a few Devon cream teas and you have a heavenly golfing destination.
The Devon County Golf Union was established way back in 1911 and now there are 45 affiliated clubs that play across 58 courses. Golf began in Devon in 1864 when the venerable Royal North Devon was laid out on the Northam Burrows at Westward Ho! Royal North Devon is the oldest golf course in England still playing along its original fairways and Westward Ho! is the only town in the British Isles to have an exclamation mark in its name.
Since those early beginnings, many fine golf course architects from the “Golden Age” have left their impressions on the Devon landscape. Herbert Fowler at Saunton, Yelverton and East Devon, Harry Colt at Thurlestone, John Abercromby at Bovey Castle and Alister MacKenzie at Teignmouth.
Female golfers in Devon founded the Devon County Club in 1900 and, in that inaugural year, a representative team played a home tie against Surrey and away matches in Kent and Surrey. Three years later, the fledgling county team won its first County Finals competition, beating Kent and Worcestershire at Sunningdale. The governing body changed its name to Devon County Ladies’ Golf Association in 1929 and its county teams and interclub competitions are still going strong today.
Our Devon Best in County golf course rankings were updated in 2019. Click the link to read the story.