|Related Links: 2013 Open Championship Coverage|
The term “links golf” is often thought to be relegated primarily to select courses in Scotland and Ireland. But, for those of you seeking to get your links fix, don’t overlook nearby England – home to a number of authentic links courses that in many ways rival what you’ll find in either Scotland or Ireland.
Off the beaten track of attention for many foreign visitors to England is a location many in the UK seek out – and for good reason. The southwest coastal area, stretching from Bristol and Bath in the north all the way to the Cornwall area, is the perfect location to get away from the hustle and bustle of places like London and provides the ideal setting to really appreciate the English countryside and coastal areas.
Traditionally a secret gem, Atlantic Links is quickly gaining traction and golf buffs are certain to relish.
Trevose / Championship Course
Constantine Bay, Padstow, Cornwall
A quality resort that comes with all the amenities you’d expect. Stand on the 1st tee and gaze at the Atlantic as it crashes into the rocks. What a way to start the round! The outbound nine is the better of the two – the blind dog-leg left par-5 4th the real treat. The inner half of holes plays away from the water, a bit of a letdown, but the closing hole caps the day nicely.
St. Enodoc / Church Course
Rock, Wadebridge, Cornwall
It’s hard to beat a course that offers top quality rolling terrain in tandem with a sensational view of the Camel Estuary as it feeds into the Atlantic. The Church Course takes you on an epic golf journey. I enjoyed the blind par-4 3rd and the out-of-this-world crater bunker at the par-4 6th. Stand on the back tee at #18 and marvel at all you have experienced. A winner through and through. And be sure to stop at the church when you finish playing the 10th!
Saunton (East & West)
Somewhat of a mixed bag here with Saunton East the better of the two courses – more demands off the tee and the better collection of holes for the balance of the round. Driving the ball accurately pays huge dividends on the East. The West starts off very well with the first two holes playing in and around the dunes land. Sadly, the rest of the round moves through fairly ordinary real estate. If time is short, play the East.
Burnham & Berrow / Championship Course
Burnham & Berrow starts and ends with a real rush. The 1st hole is a truly intimidating opener with massive dunes covered in high grass awaiting the errant shot. The downside here is that the middle of the round gets fairly mundane, although things do pick up some steam at the par-5 13th and continue through the concluding hole. The landscape for the early and closing holes is akin to a turbulent sea. As an aside, the entrance into the club may very well be one of the smallest you’ll ever encounter – no Escalades here!
Playing Royal North Devon at Westward Ho! is a true celebration of golf’s roots. Claiming to be England’s oldest course, Royal north Devon houses plenty of interesting memorabilia – second only to the R&A’s collection at St. Andrews. But, the course is far more than just a stuffy museum. After two rather pedestrian holes start the round, the design elements really kick in at the 3rd. The outward nine plays along the water while the inner half works away from it. Links golf here started the ball rolling for others to follow.
When leaving Padstow, follow the coastal road to Tintagel and explore the ancient castle ruins overlooking the Celtic Sea; legend holds that the site was the location for King Arthur’s Court.
A great base of operations for the non-golfers in your group. Ancient Roman baths are still in operation here; go to Thermae Spa for the real experience. Take in Bath Abbey, a superb old style medieval church, and before leaving visit Sally Lunn’s Refreshment House which dates back to the 1400’s.
This scrumptious village is close to both Saunton and Royal North Devon. The community plunges – literally – down to Bristol Channel — and the car-free cobbled streets definitely provide a rare glimpse back to the olden days. Be sure to pay heed to the wandering donkeys that are part of the allure of Clovelly – you’ve been warned.
After playing the famed Church Course at St. Enodoc, head into the village of Padstow via the water taxi; a rustic village that looks like the prototype you’d read about in an English novel. Quaint shops offer a wide assortment of trinkets and tourist items. Padstow is the perfect complement to a day of such outstanding golf.
Billed as the world’s largest greenhouse, the Eden Project comprises two enormous artificial biomes housing thousands of plant species collected from around the world. Located in a reclaimed Kaolinite pit, one dome emulates a tropical environment while the other features a Mediterranean climate. Certainly a great place to visit when that infamous English weather turns foul.
With the exception of Trevose, all the other courses profiled are private so if you don’t gain access through the Atlantic Links website and the various packages offered you’ll need to contact the respective club(s) directly. During the summer, two-night packages begin around £310 with six-night packages around £760. Your best bet is to contact the club secretary. Reserve 4-6 weeks in advance and be sure to have a current handicap card.
Related Links: 2013 Open Championship Coverage
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