Royal North Devon Golf Club - Main Course
|Red (W)||73||5708 yards|
|White M: 71.7/121||474||407||422||344||133||406||376||191||491||3244||340||368||418||421||207||409||157||454||413||3187||6431|
|Yellow M: 71.2/119||460||399||406||337||125||381||356||180||482||3126||317||354||403||411||204||396||139||453||382||3059||6185|
|Red W: 70.9/117||390||392||382||290||115||361||336||177||474||2917||304||320||370||400||201||381||133||438||331||2878||5795|
English Classic Royalty
The oldest Golf Club in England plays like a classic links. It has tumbling fairways and is as natural as they come. Yes, there will be wild animals on the course, but they won't mind you playing through (Reminded me of Brora, except this time it was horses) The first couple of holes get you out to what you want. The 4th hole has a massive bunker (cape in this case), the 5th-7th holes play through the best ground and closest to the sea. From the 8th hole to the about the 14th, there are the Great Sea Rushes which act as hazards instead of sand traps and give ideas on lines of play.
The greens are not massive nor too undulating, but they are perfect for the holes as far as size/contour are concerned. Larger greens on longer approaches such as the par 3s. Tthe par 5 9th is 500 yards, but a small green that is semi-saucerlike; so you need accuracy to putt for your eagle. This course is pure links joy-putt from off the green, play bump and run, play knock downs, etc. and those bunkers are truly penal.
Off the course, these are some of the nicest people you will ever share a beverage at the 19th hole with, they have a restaurant, bar, putting green and a friendly staff/members.
I found this to be a throwback like Macrihanish Brora, Prestwick as you get a feel for how golf was played when it first came into being. I paid about $50 at twilight and it was a great deal. If in the southwest of England, put his on your itinerary. Splendid day.
Magical place, great test, friendly and interesting
This is the 3rd time I have played Royal North Devon and it is fair to say that it should be on the 'must play' list of any golfer.
When we walked into the pro shop, the pro greeted us warmly, remembering our 3 ball from over 12 months previous. He enabled us to tee off a bit early as the twilight rate was going to make it challenging to get a full 18 in, and made us feel really welcome.
The course is just beautiful. The best part of RND is that the environment and the layout do all the talking. It is a quirky place; last year we had an otherworldly experience when over 50 horses stampeded at full-tilt right through us down the 17th as the sun was setting. You may see sheep grazing too. The greens may have the odd horse-shoe print in, yet strangely still ran true.
You tee off in front of an old art-deco style club house, it is unassuming, until you go in it. They have built a patio area with a wind barrier made from glass so you can still see the view. When the tide rises, the small brook in front of the 18th green and 1st tee becomes a small river. You tee off on the 1st, into the wind, with fabulous spongey fairways, bracketed with light rough and gorse. It's a tough shot. The second is more of the same, with a fantastic approach to a slightly raised green. Then the fun really starts. The third must be one of the most intimidating shots in golf; a big white arrow points the way for a blind shot over a huge, railway-sleeper lined bunker. If you hit it, say a quick prayer to the golfing gods. The 4th is an uphill par 3 protected by pot bunkers. The green is deep and rewards a good shot well.
The 5th is just a wonderful hole. Teeing off with the Atlantic ocean on the left, a raised tee looking down upon a bunker-lined fairway. The 6th is a slight dogleg. There are several ways to play the tee shot, each testing a different skill, with the green shallow but wide for the approach. And on it goes. As you go back towards the clubhouse, you have blind shots followed by down-wind short par 4s. A long par three is followed by a wide-fairway'd start to the next hole. The 17th seems easy until you get to your approach shot- in-range to hit the green on a par five, but protected by a brook and trees, over a road. Don't go long, or right. The 18th finished over a brook with a tough green in front of the clubhouse.
I'm sure on a wet, windy day this course can eat its way through a dozen balls, and sap the strength from your shoulders, but in benign conditions, even a high handicapper can walk off and feel like they have experienced something special.
Then the clubhouse. A wall lined with ancient clubs, paintings of great golfers from history, 100 year old artifacts and a guidebook to tell you what is what. Great local beers, comfy chairs, sensible prices and the omnipresent view of the Atlantic take in.
I'm sure this course can get busy and slow you down, but this must be the closest you can get in England to golf as it was always meant to be. Magical.