Top 20 Golf Courses in Devon 2015
Devon Best in County rankings updated
Devon, in the southwest of England, is the fourth largest of England’s counties by area but, because there are only around a million people living in the region, it’s also one of the country’s least densely populated territories. With the Bristol Channel coastline to the north, the English Riviera to the south plus Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks in between, there’s plenty of scope to indulge in all sorts of outdoor activities when visiting Devon.
A glance at the Visit Devon official guide will throw up lots of sporting options, from angling to cycling, horse riding to water sports. Search under “g” for golf and you’ll discover next to nothing (though you’ll find out all about “geocaching” and “glamping”) so perhaps it’s just as well that we have a handle on a wide range of golf courses just waiting to be discovered.
The third edition of our Devon Top 20 chart has now been finalised and the results of this re-ranking process can now be revealed. All of the top five positions remain the same. Indeed, these courses have been placed in the same order since regional rankings were first introduced in 2012.
Herbert Fowler’s mighty East links at Saunton Golf Club heads the Devon listings, with its younger sibling, the West course, edged into 3rd place by the oldest course in England still utilising its original fairways, Royal North Devon, or “Westward Ho!” as it’s more affectionately known.
Top 100’s Editor-in-Chief Keith Baxter lives nearby and he played the old girl last month, with his review of the course touching on the natural allure of the links layout: “It is not the best course I’ve played but few have more charm and fewer still were established by Providence.”
East Devon occupies the number 4 position and the course dates back to 1902, when it was first brought into play. Subsequently altered by Herbert Fowler then remodelled by Harry Colt, it commands fantastic coastal views from its cliff top location above Budleigh Salterton, on the edge of the Jurassic Coast.
Bovey Castle remains at number 5 and this 1920s J. F. Abercromby track, revitalised by Tom MacKenzie and Donald Steel early in the new millennium, is set inside a beautiful wooded estate within Dartmoor National Park. The ground floor of the club’s hotel has also just been refurbished as part of an ambitious renovation programme so it looks like exciting times lie ahead for this particular golfing venue.
The Championship layout at Dartmouth Golf & Country Club moves up one place to number 7 and it’s an early 1990s design from French-based British architect Jeremy Pern, regarded by many as one of his best. Teignmouth also rises one spot to number 8 and this Alister MacKenzie-designed track lies on Haldon Moor, a location which many locals thought would be unsuitable for a golf course back in the 1920s.
Further down the chart, a couple of 18-hole layouts make a significant leap up the listings: Yelverton (up seven to 10) is an old Herbert Fowler layout, with fifteen of the original holes remaining in play, and the Oaks course at Woodbury Park Hotel & Golf Club (up six to 11), which sits in a magnificent 500-acre estate, with the front nine holes laid out around the inward nine.
Two courses make their first appearance in the regional rankings. The first one, Tavistock, lies on Whitchurch Down, on land owned by the Duke of Bedford where he gave the twelve founding members of the club permission to set out the original 9-hole layout in 1890. The other debutant is Honiton, a pleasant parkland track that’s routed across the hills to the east of Honiton, with splendid views across to the Blackdown Hills.
We’d like to thank the clubs and professional golfers that assisted with our re-ranking process for this county. To view more details about our Devon Top 20 rankings click this link. If you have extensive experience of playing across the south west region of England and would like to contribute to our next re-ranking exercise then please email Editor-in-Chief Keith Baxter at [email protected]. We never claim to publish definitive golf course listings but we do like to think they’re the most informed.
12 September 2015 Respond to this article