Saunton (East Course)
Two hard, fast-running classic links courses usually presented in excellent condition, in the middle of a popular holiday destination – what more could you possibly want?
It is difficult to think of too many (if any) locations that can offer quite such a tempting prospect, with the exception of St Andrews or Troon. Whenever you consider the UK’s best golf courses, the names in a select group of architects crops up time and time again for the simple reason that they were the best at what they did, and the legacy they left is nigh impossible to surpass.
So it will be no surprise to learn that both courses at Saunton were originally laid out or greatly modified by Herbert Fowler, although there have been subsequent alterations to keep pace with improvements in equipment.
And if you want an indication of the challenge, the East Course starts with a 470 yard par four, and although the West is a shorter layout it is, if anything, even trickier to score well there, demanding accurate placement on almost every shot.
Founded in 1897, Herbert Fowler redesigned the original course at Saunton Golf Club in 1919 and the fact that there have been relatively few subsequent changes to what is now the East Course, bears testament to its inherent quality. Saunton boasts two traditional 18-hole links courses - the East Course, which is regarded as the principal championship venue; and the West Course, which many regard to be an equally fine test. Both courses run through the majestic dunes of Braunton Burrows, a nature lover's haven, where over 300 species of wild flowers have been identified.
Though rated as Saunton's second course, there is much to enjoy on the West Course, which was originally built in the 1930's but was lost during the Second World War when it was used as an army training ground. The course was rebuilt in 1975 and is now a superb links test, similar in quality to the East Course, with a character all of its own. As for the East Course at Saunton, well, if it were ever decided to increase the number of courses on the Open Championship rota, then the East Course would certainly be an obvious candidate. As it is, the course is as natural a links as you would be likely to find and has hosted many prestigious amateur events.
Right from the first tee, your experience on the East Course is inspirational. The opening hole, playing from an elevated tee to a valley-like fairway and measuring some 478 yards from the championship stakes, is a truly superb hole and requires two fine strokes to find the target. Other holes of note on the front nine include the par four, 3rd, where the green has an uncanny knack of dismissing all but the most perfect of shots; and the short 5th, which though measuring just over 120 yards, can cause considerable anguish, with its dramatically sloping green.
And though the homeward trip is a little shorter, it provides no less a test. From the notoriously hard-to-hit par three, 13th hole, the finish is tough to say the least. The immense par four, 14th, measures 455 yards from the back stakes and requires something special to achieve par, while the tee shot on the par five, 15th, is over the dunes to an angled fairway. It's probably the 434-yard 16th, however, that is the most spoken about hole on the East Course at Saunton. Boasting a fairway, which curves to the left and skirts the sides of the dunes, an array of ridges and a bunker complicates the approach to the green.
£77.00 (Jnr £38.50)
£79.00 (Jnr £39.50)
Sorry, this club has not added their Membership prices.