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 – my recoveries were pretty good too I must confess.
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
Date: November 03, 2017