What we say
Saunton is one of the best golf courses in England and would be a fitting host for The Open, were it not for the lack of infrastructure.
When you’ve heard people – and not just anyone, people like Nick Faldo – suggest Saunton’s East course is good enough to host an Open Championship, you arrive here waiting for it to prove its worth to you.
Saunton’s premier course wastes no time in doing so.
After a short stroll around the side of the low-lying clubhouse which serves to heighten anticipation just a little further, you step onto the elevated 1st tee and realise instantly this is a special course.
The quality is relentless early on; this is no slow burner.
You leave one green and dart briskly to the next tee, interested to see what awaits next. So, after the seriously robust 1st, ‘Gullpit’ – a 478-yard par 4 off the tips with an intimidating drive over tall dunes and a ditch lurking short of the green – you scurry off the back right corner in search of the 2nd, which turns out to be an inviting par 5.
In such a scenario, it is very easy for a round to become a blur. Yet these holes are simple to recall.
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The 2nd is less than 500 yards off the whites but in fact two draw shots with a lofted wood to leave your favourite wedge distance into the elevated green – which dismissively rejects anything short – is the clever play.
The 3rd, ‘Valley’, might be even better, a two-shotter which zig zags its way up a fairway lined by dunes and punctuated by prominent humps and hollows.
Then comes ‘The Gap’, where you must find the left side off the tee – but without dropping into one of the three bunkers on that side – in order to get a view of a green obscured by the mound that sits in the right-centre of the fairway.
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A cute par 3 of just 122 yards breaks up the hitting, as does the relatively short dog-legging 6th, before we get back to serious stuff with the 7th, whose name – ‘Anstead’s Humps’ – gives a hint as to the fun which follows.
The next may well be your favourite or least favourite hole on the East, including as it does a blind drive and, if you push your approach right, a blind chip.
We loved it.
The comparatively modest 9th completes a terrific front nine which has few peers in Britain and Ireland.
The second half begins with a super short two-shotter played to an elevated green set on a shelf.
There is then a slight dip in quality for a moment or two but soon it is high-octane fare again, with the last three forming a superlative closing stretch.
Walking up to the final green, one has long since decided that although Saunton is relatively short by modern standards, The Open could be held here successfully if the R&A gave it the nod.
Critics suggest the infrastructure can not cope with “all that comes with a modern-day Open” and that is a depressing, if realistic, comment.
The fact romance is unlikely to prevail and Saunton is unlikely to stage The Open should however not stop you moving the East several notches up your wish list.
- Costs -
- TG Rating
- Players Rating
- Address Saunton, , BRAUNTON
- Tel 01271 812436
- Website www.sauntongolf.co.uk
|Course Length||6,596 yards (6,031 metres)|
- Course has: Bar
- Course has: Buggy Hire
- Course has: Driving Range
- Course does not have: Practice Green
- Course has: Pro Shop
- Course has: Restaurant
- Course has: Trolley Hire
- Course does not have: Dress Code
- Course has: Club Hire
- Course has: Handicap
Played in a Seniors Competition on Wednesday. Loved the course although greens not as good as one would expect from a links course. Not the most warm and welcoming club I have experienced. Seemed to be a trend of people doing other things and making a point of breaking off to attend to you - started in the Pro's shop through to the bar where the staff continued reading whilst we were waiting to be served. The only people to come out with any credit were the caterers who were friendly and attentive. The rest, including the office staff, seemed to view the whole event as an irritant. Really disappointed that such a prestigious club can destroy the thrill of playing an exceptional golf course with such an indifferent attitude. Quiet reflection of the scores also suggests that not all is as well adminstered as it could be when it comes to handicaps - the winning team scoring 50 points playing off a handicap of 24 beggars belief and that certainly helped to confirm the overall impression that we have of Saunton Sands.
A must play, East in the morning West in the afternoon. In the fine weather we had in mid-March 2009, we had the last laugh versus those making the pilgrimage to southern parts of overpriced euroland for their spring golf fix. In short-sleeved shirts, we wondered at the views, the perfect greens and well kempt bunkers and thought we'd gone to heaven. It doesn't get better than this!
a super course with a nice mix of holes - the 1st is a real tough nut but the short par 3 'tiddler' does ease the pain later in the round. we got on a summer twilight green fee which seemed good value but we were suprised about how poor the greens were
We booked to play Saunton and were initially disappointed that we were unable to play both courses over two days as the championship course (East) was having extensive work carried out on its irrigation system. However on arrival we were all extremly impressed. Saunton is a wonderful setting and from standing outside the clubhouse you look over the 18th green of the East course at the most picturesque piece of links land imagineable. We played the course off the white tees. The course itself is tough but fair with lots of elevated tees allowing to you see not only the hole but also the hazards and beautiful scenery. The course was in excellent condition with very quick and true greens.It is extremely well kept with natural bunkers well placed on each hole. The course has some superb holes. The 432 yard 14th is a real challenge, a long dog leg to the left which runs around a very large dune. I also enjoyed the 8th which again is a slightly elevated tee to a green 382 yards away that is two tiered. The course has 5 par 3's that are all challenging as well as 4 par 5's, two of which are easily reachable in two. On all the holes missing the fairway leads to trouble in the longer grass meaning a dropped shot more often than not. The green fee includes a meal voucher and the service and quality of both the food and beer in the clubhouse was very good. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience at Saunton and will return to play this and the East course next year.