Saunton Golf Club is located in coastal sand dunes in North Devon in an area known as the Saunton Burrows and has hosted golf since 1897.
But it took until 1919 when Herbert Fowler (designer of Walton Heath & The Berkshire) redesigned the East course, for word to spread about the quality of this seaside links.
The venue has been used ever since for major amateur championships, notably the 1937 English Amateur when Frank Pennink was victorious, and the Boys Amateur in 1997, when Sergio Garcia triumphed.
There are two courses at Saunton- The East and The West Courses. Both are sited in a magnificent tract of sand dunes, and the whole area has been declared a Scientific Area of interest. It is one of the most impressive dunescapes I have seen anywhere in the world.
The East is widely regarded as the better course of the two, and is a little longer than the West Course, but not much separates them in terms of quality and resistance to scoring.
The first five holes on the East course are routed through beautiful sand dunes, but then the course moves into quieter territory. Each of these holes has character with the larger dunes framing the holes. There is good variety in the types of holes- I particularly liked the par 3 5th hole.
As we move out of the bigger dunes: 6, 7, 9 11, & 12 have little in the way of sand dunes framing the holes, and although they are solid golf holes they are not really world class.
Hole 8 breaks the mould with a blind the shot to a generous fairway followed by a short iron approach to a green semi hidden in its own dell- a cluster of dunes
I thought it was a super golf hole
Hole 13 is a par 3 which is both deadly and gorgeous. Requiring a short to mid iron to an elevated green, your tee shot must be both accurate and well flighted to find a putting service that is very well protected.
Hole 14 is another strong hole in the dunes- a par 4 measuring 455 yards off the back pegs, and named ‘Narrows’- you need to be long & straight…
And I liked the long par 4 eighteenth hole with each par recorded is celebrated with gusto by the members…
The East Course at Saunton is regarded by some as a potential Open Championship course. While I do not regard the course quite that highly, I do agree it is a quality links course in a beautiful setting.
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