Royal North Devon, England’s oldest links golf course dating back to 1864, is to introduce a number of international life memberships in 2013 which will be restricted to just 20 overseas golfers making it one of golf’s most exclusive club memberships.
Widely regarded as the ‘St Andrews of England’ and the cradle of English golf, Royal North Devon, or Westward Ho! as it is historically known, is offering its international life memberships at US$5,000 (circa Euros3,800).
One of the many attractions of RND is that it has hardly changed in nearly 150 years so playing the course gives golfers a unique insight into how the game was played in Victorian England. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the north Atlantic coast, this ancient links is laid out on gently undulating common land where livestock still graze freely. In a stiff breeze, this fast-running links is as tough and challenging as any of the UK’s most eminent links but this distinctive experience always gives the golfer a feeling of pure, raw exhilaration.
Off the course, the club prides itself on its friendly atmosphere, rather than the stuffiness so often associated with the older, more traditional clubs. Visitors are pleasantly surprised to discover how relaxed and informal the atmosphere is at RND where the ‘craic’ in the clubhouse is just as important as a great round out on the links.
Furthermore, Westward Ho! is a place of huge historical importance and heritage as it boasts a treasure trove of golfing memorabilia, second only to that owned by The R&A. In addition to an array of trophies and honours boards, the clubhouse is home to a portrait of the celebrated JH Taylor and many of the golf clubs he used in his Open Championship wins. Indeed JH Taylor started his career as a caddie at RND and later concluded it as club president.
International life members will have the opportunity to be a part of the club’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2014 when RND will stage the World Hickory Championships as well as the EnglishCounty Finals and many other celebratory events.
To mark the introduction of the new category, an international life membership has been bestowed on the legendary Tom Watson, who played RND a few years ago. When asked in a recent press interview where he would like to turn up for a quiet round of golf, he replied, “Royal North Devon”.
On accepting his life membership, Watson commented, “It would be an honour and a privilege to accept your invitation to become a life Member of your historic links, 150 years supporting the grandest game of all is quite a record. Congratulations.”
Widely regarded as one of the greatest links players of all time – a claim backed up by his five Open Championship victories – and recently elected as captain of the US Team for the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, the ever-popular Watson will now be able to drop by RND whenever he wants to take on this extraordinary links.
Testament to the ongoing quality of the course, RND was placed in 75th position in the latest ‘Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland 2012’ compiled by the UK magazine Golf Monthly.
In terms of accessibility, RND can be reached via the nearby M5 motorway and A39 “Atlantic Highway”, and the international airports at Exeter, Bristol, Birmingham and London.
International life membership will comprise:
Royal North Devonwww.royalnorthdevongolfclub.co.uk