A collection of the five premier links golf clubs in South West England, the Atlantic Links provides the expected 200,000 golfing fans attending the duel between Europe and the USA with the perfect destination for some terrific golf of their own after the drama and excitement of this eagerly-awaited competition.
Firmly established as one of the most prestigious golf destinations in England, the first course in this tantalizing trail of ancient links is Burnham & Berrow Golf Club near Bristol, which is an easily-accessible hour’s drive from Celtic Manor.
From there, the two-course Saunton Golf Club and Royal North Devon (or Westward Ho! as it is often referred to) are around 90 minutes by car from Burnham & Berrow with Cornwall’s St Enodoc and Trevose Golf & Country Club an hour further down the A39 Atlantic Highway.
“For golfers looking for some fantastic links golf after – or before – the excitement of the Ryder Cup, the six courses that comprise England’s Atlantic Links are the ideal destination in close proximity to Celtic Manor,” comments Nick Gammon of Trevose Golf & Country Club.
“Set against the wild and rugged backdrop of the Atlantic coast offering spectacular panoramas, this cluster of six championship courses offers memorable but challenging golf in a region of England that also boasts appealing accommodation, gourmet cuisine and numerous off-course activities, both cultural and natural.”
Individually each club in the group continues to receive plaudits from the world of golf and to host top amateur championships which speaks volumes for the pedigree of these courses.
For example, The 2009 Tillman Trophy was staged at Somerset’s Burnham & Berrow and in 2011 the club will host the R&A Boys Championship and the Brabazon Trophy and so enter golfing history by becoming the first course to hold both championships in the same year.
It was at Saunton in 1997 that a 17-year-old Sergio Garcia won the British Boys Championship, just two years before making his Ryder Cup debut and this year Golf World magazine rated Saunton’s East Course at No 60 in its 2010 world rankings.
All six courses in England’s Atlantic Links featured in the 2007/8 Golf Monthly “Top 100 Courses in the UK & Ireland”.
The Courses that Comprise England’s Atlantic Links:
Founded in 1890, Somerset’s Burnham & Berrow is particularly noted for its distinct sand hills that form such stubborn, natural obstacles, along with the buckthorn and even a marsh for golfers to avoid mid-way through a round. Throw in the prevailing south westerly winds that whip in from the Atlantic and along the Bristol Channel, and golfers are left with a links challenge not for the faint hearted. The course has evolved over the decades but today’s layout is largely the work of Harry Colt. The club’s first professional was the legendary JH Taylor, five times an Open champion, who described the course as “one of the most sporting courses conceivable”. Burnham & Berrow has hosted a string of prestigious amateur tournaments, most recently the 2009 Tillman Trophy.
Dating back to 1864, Royal North Devon, or Westward Ho! as it is also known, is England’s oldest links. The golf course has hardly changed over nearly 150 years and to play it is like taking a step back in time and seeing how golf was played in Victorian England. The golf course, on terrain that undulates more gently than Burnham & Berrow, is set on common land on which livestock still graze. While JH Taylor may have served as Burnham & Berrow’s first pro, it as here at Royal North Devon that the golfer started his career as a caddie and later finished it as club president. With such heritage, the clubhouse serves as a treasure trove of golf memorabilia second only to the R&A.
Further down the Devon coast is Saunton, set in the remote shadows of the giant sand dunes of Braunton Burrows. When the club was inaugurated in 1893 its clubhouse doubled up as the local post office, yet now its two championship courses, East and West, are among the greatest links in the world. England’s most successful post-war golfer, Nick Faldo, has said, “I’ve no doubt if the East Course were located on the coast of Lancashire or Kent it would have hosted an Open Championship by now,” although the West course is an exceptional challenge in its own right and it is a mistake to consider it second best. www.sauntongolf.co.uk
Cornwall’s St Enodoc is another links once trodden, never forgotten. Founded in 1890 and designed by James Braid, it has a fantastic setting among the dunes overlooking the River Camel estuary and with far-reaching views over the Atlantic. The Church course, so called because of the Norman Church that was uncovered in the middle of the course, is renowned for its towering Himalaya bunker that entirely blocks golfers’ view of the 6th green from all but a slither of fairway. This is the tallest bunker in Europe. Over the past four years the course has benefited hugely from refurbishments that have included laying new greens and tees. www.st-enodoc.co.uk
Across the Camel River from St Enodoc and over the majestic Trevose Head that juts into the Atlantic, Trevose Golf & Country Club offers a brilliant links that staged the celebrated English Amateur Stroke play Championship (Brabazon Trophy) in 2008. Complete with eco villas and holiday flats, Trevose conjures a relaxed holiday atmosphere to go with its classic Harry Colt golf course. With only a gentle breeze the 6,973-yard Championship Course offers good scoring opportunities, particularly with 3 par 5’s, but the character of the course is transformed when the winds blows in from the sea. www.trevose-gc.co.uk