This month (June) marks a double celebration at England’s Atlantic Links as two of its members, Burnham & Berrow and St Enodoc Golf Clubs, reach their landmark 125th anniversary in the same year.
Founded back in 1890, two of England’s finest championship links will celebrate the momentous occasion with a ‘Festival of Golf’ week which will include an Atlantic Links competition hosted at Burnham & Berrow for all five clubs in the group.
Teams from Royal North Devon, the elder statesman of the quintet of clubs at 152 years old, 118-year-old Saunton and Cornwall’s Trevose, the youngest member at just 80 years old, will make their way up the north Atlantic coast to Somerset with St Enodoc to compete in the one-off match.
The occasion brings this ancient trail of the south west’s premier links courses into the golfing spotlight and acts as a reminder that it is not only Scotland and Ireland that boast some of the world’s most revered links layouts.
The Atlantic Links courses may not be as high profile as those of Scotland that have hosted The Open Championship over the years or the emerald links of Ireland which is so well known for its ‘craic’ but these relatively-undiscovered golfing gems offer just as much in terms of quality, tradition, variety and character in addition to their combined history of over 500 years!
These links are also associated with some of golf’s most famous names: renowned architect James Braid designed St Enodoc’s Church Course and is down as one of the American Tom Watson’s favourite courses.
Today’s layout at Burnham & Berrow is largely the work of the celebrated Harry Colt whilst the club’s first professional was the legendary JH Taylor, five times an Open champion, who once described the course as “one of the most sporting courses conceivable”.
At Royal North Devon a portrait of JH Taylor hangs proudly amongst the wealth of memorabilia collected over the last 150 years as it was in fact here that the golfer started his career as a caddie and later finished it as club president.
Saunton’s East Course has been described in glowing terms by Sir Nick Faldo, who has said, “I’ve no doubt if the East Course were located on the coast of Lancashire or Kent it would have hosted The Open Championship by now.” Then in 1997 a young, relatively-unknown Sergio Garcia played here as 17-year-old when he won the British Boys Championship, just two years before making his Ryder Cup debut.
Trevose too is a classic Harry Colt track, set against the backdrop of the iconic Trevose Head which featured regularly in the hugely popular television series, Poldark.
One of Trevose’s first well-known visitors was HRH The Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII, who made a flying visit (literally) in 1930 when he landed his plane in the middle of the course! These days the club attracts a variety of famous names thanks to its extensive leisure and accommodation facilities, unique charm and fabulous location next to Constantine Bay and the bustling fishing port of Padstow, made famous by celebrity chef, Rick Stein.
“Burnham & Berrow is delighted to be celebrating its 125th anniversary and to be sharing it with St Enodoc, a fellow member in England’s Atlantic, makes it that much more special,” says Karen Drake, Secretary at Burnham & Berrow. “The club decided it would be appropriate to mark the occasion by inviting the other Atlantic Links clubs along to be part of our 125th anniversary match.”
The Atlantic Links was established in 2009 to offer a leading links trail of six championship courses (two at Saunton) set against the dramatic backdrop of the north Atlantic Coast.
Since then the cluster has attracted visitors from all over the world who have also discovered the charms of the south west; its stunning scenery and its artistic & cultural attractions, glorious gardens & sweeping sandy beaches, numerous sporting activities as well as the gastronomic delights of Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver and Nathan Outlaw and local pubs offering traditional fare.
In terms of travel, the M5 motorway and A39 “Atlantic Highway”, and international airports at Bristol, Exeter, London Heathrow and London Gatwick, ensure easy access for visitors.
Atlantic Links golf courses www.atlantic-links.co.uk
Countrywide Golf Holidays www.countrywidegolfholidays.com