I took up golf in the early 1990’s, shortly after my work took me to Torquay, in South Devon. Like all newby’s I bought myself a starter set of clubs and off I went to a local 9 hole course, hitting and hacking ( as one does , and on occasions still do !).
Shortly after that I joined my first club, Dainton Park GC near Ipplepen , near Newton Abbot. Because Dainton was a good albeit new course I didnt want to be embarrassed too much so I booked a series of lessons with the club pro Martin Dyson.
I became well and truley taken with the game and my golf developed from 1 day a week to 5 or 6 rounds a week with one year me playing Dainton over 200 times . I was also fortunate to play for the team on many occasions.
I joined a golf society and was soon playing courses all over Devon and a couple in Cornwall too. I had a couple of regular golfing buddies and we played as many courses in Devon as often as we could.
COURSES I’VE PLAYED IN DEVON
Churston Golf Club Churston Golf Club is a fantastic course set on the coast of South Devon with fantastic views across Torbay. I’ve played the course twice and each time I had a round of golf to remember. Not necessarily for the quality of the golf but the views are stunning. I also had the great pleasure of playing in a 4-ball with World Snooker Champion Ray Reardon MBE who is a local resident and also president of the club. Ray played off 15 handicap and he and his partner beat us 3 and 2.
Dartmouth Golf Club Dartmouth Championship Course is one of the hardest I’ve played. Some holes you run the risk of dropping off a cliff and others make you think until your head hurts. One particular par 5 on the back 9 is like a switchback ride, high cliffs on one side and a burn running down the other side. Ive played this course twice, brilliant to try if you get the chance.
Dawlish Warren Golf Club A true links course. The Warren is sited on a nature reserve and is a test of golfing skills tests your golf prowess to the limit. Full of sand dunes, small and large with more than the usual quota of bunkers. Played the course 3 times and my claim to fame there was the fact I hit the clubhouse roof after a wayward ( very wayward) approach shot on the back 9 ..the sound was like a canon going off.
Dainton Park Golf Club Since I left Devon I see Dainton Park GC has expanded a lot. The young trees are growing, no more blue posts and free drops ! A health club, and improved practise facilities have made the club one of the finest in Devon, Well worth a vist.
Fingle Glen Golf Club Fingle Glen is in Tedburn St.Mary just outside Exeter, and was only a 9 hole course when I lived in Devon. I see it looks to have expanded to the full 18 holes, in addition to a hotel and holiday lodges. I played it twice ( I think ) and my overriding memory is that I seem to remember it being quite hilly.
Hele Park Golf Club A brilliant 9 hole course just outside Newton Abbot and a course I visited at least once a week. A fantastic course to practise on as you have to conjour up every shot in the book. I had a regular lessons with the pro there James Langmead, including video lessons too, and it also boasts some excellent practice facilities too.
Royal North Devon Golf Club It was a very special day the day I got to play at Royal North Devon at Westward Ho! . The oldest club in Britain, a Tom Morris special. I was there with a local golf society, The Church House Inn at Stokeinteignhead. The main thing I remember was the wind was blowing a gale and the wooden sleepers propping up the ridiculously steep sided bunkers were an impossibilty !
Saunton Sands Golf Club There are two courses here at Saunton, the East and the West courses, I think it was the East Course I played. I remember a group of 6 of us from Dainton Park had a great day out there and I also remember I finished second with 37 stableford points of a 19 handicap, so not too bad.
Staddon Heights Golf Club Staddon Heights overlooks the Plymouth estuary, so there are some great views and the course is mature and well maintained . I was told by the steward afterwards in the clubhouse that the course is used by the local naval servicemen and they get preferrential tee-times.
Stover Golf Club Located just outside Newton Abbot and near the entrance to Trago Mills retail park Stover is a real challenge. Ive played friendlies and team games here many times .Mainly parkland but very mature, so the trees are a real challenge. The course runs alongside a WWII Polish prisoner of war camp and you can see through the fences at the long deserted buildings. My main memories of the course are the very tricky approach shot to the 18th green as there is a river runs across the front of the green ( similar to the 18th at Carnoustie).
Teignmouth Golf Club Teignmouth GC is sited up near Dartmoor, atop many hills. Only played it once, as a 2-ball and my over-riding memory was the fog. I couldnt see a thing for the first 10 holes. Maybe it’s best to play Teignmouth on a nice day. I do remember it being a nice course though.
Teign Valley Golf Club One of my favourite courses, located near Chudliegh Knighton in South Devon, just off the A38. The range of difficulty on every hole varies a lot, but it is divided into two secions. Starting with a Par 3, you then walk through a tunnel under the main road into the bottom meadow where there are 6 holes ( I think ) played mainly around a huge man made lake. Then back under the road to play the remaining holes, one of which is a par 5 which on a dry day & a good drive one can reach the summit of the hill before rolling down to the greeen at the very bottom the green . Indeed there is a plaque on the tee saying one member got an albatros ( down in 2 on a par 5 )
Torquay Golf Club Having spent 17 years living in and around Torquay, this was my local club, but I only played it just the once. The views are stunning, and the course is a challenge. Situated close to Babbacombe Model Village.
Woodbury Park Golf Club Ive played here twice and at the time the owner was F1 racing driver Nigel Mansell CBE. He had recently bought and renovated both the course and the clubhouse. In the reception he had two formula one racing cars, the actual ones he drove for Ferrari, and Williams. Also to be found was his F1 museum, and dwn in the members locker room, mansels locker was number 001, whilst locker 002 was Greg Norman. Opulence was everywhere, and it was such a pleasure to play there, the course was immaculate too.
Wrangaton Golf Club Situated at South Brent the course is half parkland and half moorland. A unique feature of the 9 holes at Wrangaton was the natural ‘ hazards ‘. Moorland sheep and goats roaming all over the top half of the course. Some of the greens had little fences around them to protect the greens from straying hooves. Grat fun, but watch out for sheep poo.
St.Mellion Golf Resort Just over the Tamar Bridge and into Cornwall, St.Mellion is a championship course and is part of a large tourist/golf complex. It was teeming with rain all the way around on the day we were there.