Some of the best links golf courses on the British Isles are tucked together in Englads South West corner. Not too many golfers out of England know these six championship links courses.
The collection of Trevose and St Enodoc in Cornwall, Royal North Devon and Saunton (two courses) in Devon and Somerset’s Burnham & Berrow has established itself as one of the UK’s premier golfing destinations, branding themselves England’s Atlantic Links.
Together these legendary championship courses have made their mark as a tantalizing trail of ancient links golf set against the wild and dramatic backdrop of the north Atlantic coastline.
Over the years, these courses have hosted many top amateur championships, further testament to the quality of the links. Most recently Saunton’s East and West Courses staged the 2014 English Amateur Championship, the blue riband men’s event on England Golf’s annual calendar, whilst St Enodoc hosted the 2014 English Women’s Amateur Championship.
Listed in Top 100 Golf Courses in England
The reputation of this still relatively unknown cluster of golfing gems is continuously enhanced through inclusions of the Atlantic Links courses in recognized course ratings compiled by top golf publications, i.e.in Golf World magazine’s course ranking, which appears in the June issue 2015, that covers the «Top 100 Golf Courses in England».
Saunton’s East Course (the 18th hole pictured at the top of the article) is in ninth slot, and has been awarded the highest position of the group of six Atlantic Links courses. The East Course’s ranking is perhaps no surprise given its past glowing endorsement by Sir Nick Faldo, who once 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.”
Saunton East is closely followed by Cornwall’s St Enodoc in 15th slot whilst the Somerset layout of Burnham & Berrow comes in at number 40, Royal North Devon at 79, Trevose at 86 and Saunton West at 90.
With Royal Birkdale, Sunningdale Old and Royal St George’s topping this comprehensive list of the best golf courses in England the competition is extremely tough, which makes the inclusion of all six courses all the more impressive.
“The fact that all six links are featured in the Golf World ranking shows the strength and depth that the Atlantic Links trail offers golfers who enjoy the demands and challenges of links golf,” says Russell Mayne, general manager at Saunton in north Devon.
Panel of readers
The ranking was decided by a panel of the magazine’s readers who are required to have a wealth of experience of what are regarded as the finest courses in the country. The members of the panel visit the courses unannounced, pay their own green fees and make their own judgements. The factors in assessing the courses are strategic merit, presentation, memorable holes, playability, consistency of test and visual appeal and do not take into account anything off the course.
In addition to great links, the South West is also regarded as a gastronomic destination given the exceptional seafood restaurants of famous local chefs Rick Stein and Nathan Outlaw and the presence of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen on Watergate Bay as well as the abundance of real English ale and authentic pub grub in its traditional country pubs.
The temperate micro climate allows year-round golf with the gentler winter conditions enabling the greenkeepers to maintain their courses in immaculate condition throughout the changing seasons.