One of the joys of being a golfer is the opportunity to visit and play golf courses around the Region, and sometimes further afield. This is the place where I’ll talk about those expriences
EAST DEVON GOLF CLUB April 2018
If after you have read this and seen the images you want to go to this fabulous golf course, the website address is www.eastdevongolfclub.co.uk and main phone number 01395 443370. If you’re using SatNav, postcode is EX9 6DG.
If you live in my part of the world going to East Devon is always a treat. If you don’t it should be one of those places you put on your list to visit. In some ways it could be a hidden gem, though not to England Golf. The English Men’s County Finals were staged there in 2017, and 2018 sees the Girl’s Championships in August. It will take you about 15 minutes from Junction 30 of the M5, and it is well worth the visit.
As you walk through the car park to the Clubhouse you get a taste of what is to come, looking up the 3rd fairway. Don’t be fooled by its coastal position on the map. This is a cliff top heathland test, and when the wind blows testing is exactly what it is.
The card suggests a gentle start, but both the opening holes will need a solid, straight hit to avoid the heather on both sides of the fairways, and a key part of your strategy immediately becomes clear – keep the ball the correct side of the pin. Both greens show severe contours, the 1st all from left to right, the 2nd in two very distinct levels. Be on the top level when the pin is on the bottom and risk being off the green with your first putt.
3 is index 1, and although only 411 yards plays uphill into the prevailing wind. The green isn’t wide, but is long. Coming up a bit short is no crime. Not a target you want to miss right. Or long.
The 4th is the first short hole, uphill over 3 big bunkers to a green rising from front to back. The 5th also climbs, your tee shot having to negotiate two well placed fairway bunkers, which having been achieved leaves you only a view of the top of the flag as you play to the two-tier green. Look back from the green towards Lyme Bay. Wonderful.
The downhill 6th is a par 5 that can offer the chance to get home in two, especially in the summer, but missing the big green will leave you with no options; very tight.
7 has always been a hole I like. It is completely unlike anything else on the course, completely isolated at the bottom of the hill. Sloping left to right it doglegs right to left. Trees and gorse to the left, trees and OOB to the right with an uphill 2nd to a green set across the line of the shot. Great fun.
Perhaps I like it so much because it eases the senses a little from the assault of amazing views you get around the rest of the course.
8 is just brutal, a 200-yard par 3 to a long narrow green, generally into wind. Miss right and you’re 6 to 10 feet below the level of the green; bail out left and it’s a downhill, across the slope chip. Pause and look right, towards the River Exe. 9 looks huge on the card, but plays significantly downhill and offers a chance to really open the shoulders. Catch the Augusta-esq speed slot on the right of the fairway and you’ll have a short iron 2nd. Big target, but a bank of heather left and a 10-foot drop right mean you must hit it.
The back nine starts with a great par 3 to a green with three distinct levels and big steps between each. 11 is a great short par 4. Tee shot over the dip and short of the cross bunkers leaves 100 yards or less. If you’re feeling really macho its 260 to carry the bunkers and you can run the ball in, but again do not miss this above the hole. On the card 12 looks a short par 5, but it plays significantly uphill so requires a couple of very big hits to get home.
The course sits in the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. It is an area which has seen coastal erosion and cliff fall, and you’ll see the impact of this on the club as you walk off the 12th green. Directly in front of you can be made out the shape of the old short 13th hole, but you now play a different and awkward to judge par 3 back down the slope into a big target.
14 heads back up the hill, and if you negotiate the fairway bunkers there is a big target to aim at, though favour the left side with the slope. 15 is a genuine birdie chance but only if you can get your tee shot in the right place on this short par 4. When you reach the 16th tee, whatever you’re playing in, take in the view. West towards Torbay, east across Lyme Bay, inland the moors in the distance. Exhilarating doesn’t cut it.
You’ve reached the highest point on the course, and you’re rewarded with a downhill trip to the clubhouse. 16 can yield a birdie, but get the club right for the tee shot, especially in summer conditions when anything left of the marker can be in gorse trouble. 17 is a forced lay-up, short of the big dip and a bank of heather, in summer with not too much club if the wind is behind but the target for the approach is huge.
18 is another really good short par 4, turning left to right across in front of the clubhouse windows, but beware in the summer and downwind. There is a superbly positioned pot bunker 60 yards from the green on the perfect line that you can’t see which bigger hitters need to factor in.
Playing East Devon is always a great experience. It is a superb test of your game, and invariably presented in great condition. The surroundings mean you can still enjoy your day, even if your game isn’t where you want it to be. It is simply fantastic fun. And a darn good golf course.