(or how to spoil a good walk in the country)
Golf, now there's a sport I never really understood.
I played golf for a period of time during my thirties, mostly enjoying it but found myself mostly constrained by the time limitations of my greater love, my job!
I suppose I felt pressurised into it. Most of my peers and colleagues played, and after all, I was and still am interested in sport in general, and I loved being outdoors in the country, so I should have taken to it.
I had lessons with the pro at Ruislip Golf Club, invested in all the right clobber, including a basic set of clubs, which were eventually passed on to a younger brother. I worked hard at my stance and my swing, but I never lived up to my own expectations, so much so that I used to look at more experienced golfers, mentally criticising their methods, wondering how the ball ever flew true and ended up on the green, all the while not posing as I was taught.
I very much enjoyed the banter, which was often at my expense, and I will always remember a quip from one of my “pals”, after a rather badly sliced shot: “No matter how bad you are playing, it is always possible to play worse!” When people would ask what my handicap was, the answer was easy, it was golf!
However, I do understand how others seem addicted to the game, be it for business (ha!), bonding with your mates, or getting away for a few days. And of course, I completely understand the allure of the nineteenth hole!
So, more pertinently, I have concluded that with sensational weather and temperatures rivalling southern Europe, Devon really is a place that is a must-visit region for anyone who calls himself or herself a golf fanatic. It is referred to locally as “God’s own county”, and with two coastal borders, it is a popular port of call amongst tourists from all over the United Kingdom and, indeed, abroad.
Here in South Devon, there are more than twenty courses, most with spectacular views, and all within a 25 mile radius of Torquay. Some of them are right on our doorstep at Carlton Court!
A list of some of the best is below.
Torquay Golf Club
Tel: 01803 314591
30 Petitor Road, St Marychurch, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 4QF
The jewel in the English Riviera’s golfing crown, Torquay’s golf course offers an enjoyable test of your game. The course wanders through rolling territory lined with mature trees, including many native species. The views of the locale, of the beaches and the cliffs of Lyme Bay and Torbay as well northwards to the moors are quite outstanding. It’s a friendly club where a genuine welcome can be expected from staff and club members alike. The highly skilled professional team will ensure all visitors to the Club are met with care and courtesy, and a memorable game will be the result.
Teignmouth Golf Club
Haldon Moor, Teignmouth, Devon, TQ14 9NY
A sensational heathland course with stunning views can be found at Teignmouth Golf Club, just outside of the little tourist resort of Teignmouth.
The course was designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie in 1924, some 9 years before his most famous work at Augusta National, home of the US Masters.
Bovey Castle Golf Course
North Bovey, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, TQ13 8RE
The golf course at the 5 star Bovey Castle is a challenging and beautiful championship golf course, designed in 1926 by JF Abercromby, one of the finest British golf course designers of the Golden Era. Designed to rival its sister courses at Gleneagles and Turnberry, this course has been described as an experience of golf never to be forgotten, presenting the pure challenge of golf to professional and amateur alike. The course meanders through the hotel estate, surrounded by idyllic landscape and challenges to meet any handicap.
Shaldon Approach Golf
Ness Drive, Shaldon, Devon, TQ14 0HP
Shaldon Approach Golf is an 18-hole course with hole distances of 60 - 120 yards (7 holes over 100 yards) and is considered one of the best approach courses in the South West, with breath-taking views of Teignmouth and the Teign Estuary.
Churston Golf Club
The Clubhouse, Churston, Devon, TQ5 0LA
Founded in 1890, the course at Churston Golf Club was designed by Harry Colt, a famous golf course architect who was responsible for many of the fine courses enjoyed by club golfers all across the country. It is laid out along the stunning clifftops of Devon and benefits from exceptional views of the surrounding countryside, amongst the best anywhere in the United Kingdom.
Many of the fairways here are quite narrow and require deadly certain accuracy from the tees, and some of the holes are quite long too, so no doubt that'll have the big hitters amongst you licking your lips in anticipation. Good course management, a good temperament and unflinching concentration are vital if you are to perform well here.