|Trevose Golf Club features a golf course and accommodations overlooking the stunning Constantine Bay in Cornwall. (Courtesy of Trevose Golf Club)|
Southwest England has earned its nickname as England's Atlantic Links, thanks to golf courses like Trevose Golf & Country Club and Royal North Devon Golf Club. It also has an abundance of quality hotels for the traveling golfer.
CORNWALL, England - The British have been escaping to the sunny peninsula of Southwest England for centuries, thanks to its warm, sun-soaked climate and charming, rural and port-side villages.
Big cities are few and far between around here, making it a favorite for Londoners and city slickers from Liverpool and Manchester. This is where they come to get away from it all, where the landscape is green and the newspapers have a different tone. In fact, the local paper's lead story during this particular week in Cornwall was about "Chilli," a potentially record-breaking bullock in size.
Greater than even the giant bullock is the Southwest's golf reputation, which is England's original links destination. What's now become known as England's Atlantic Links is home to the country's first links golf course: Royal North Devon Golf Club in Westward Ho! established in 1864.
So, with over a century and a half under its belt as a golf destination, the region is bound to know its golf and accommodations. Here are the Southwest's best stay-and-play combos along the Atlantic Links.
The furthest southwest club along England's Southwest Atlantic Links, Trevose Golf & Country Club is a place where you get detached from the modern hubbub in a hurry. The club mixes an old school, 19th century golf links (along with a 9-hole and short course) with comfortable resort amenities like tennis and swimming, not to mention the crashing waves of the nearby beach, which attracts area surfers. You'll feel like you're at your home club here, if only for a few days.
"They come here to get disconnected," said David Cowan at the resort, which puts the "retreat" back into the golf trip. It's membership here has high standards, with members who also have privileges to Pine Valley Golf Club and Augusta National.
The clubhouse and lodging is ideally located looking over the beautiful Constantine Bay, where a table in the dining room sunset is the place to be. And in the height of summer, when it's light out late into the night, the short course makes for a popular after-dinner game if you're up for betting a few quid.
Saunton Golf Club has been described as perhaps the best multi-course club in the British Isles outside of St. Andrews thanks to its two championship links.
"I cannot think of anywhere in England where 36 holes could be more enjoyable," Nick Faldo wrote of Saunton.
That's not too farfetched a statement from the Englishmen, thanks to its two pure, championship links. The original East Course is a stern championship links with a century of history. More recently, Sergio Garcia triumphed here in the 1997 British Boys Championship.
The newer West is no slouch itself, and while a little shorter, it's set on more rugged dunesland and features some daring tee shots.
"The West, in my opinion, needs more thought to club selection from the tee and more precision into well-guarded greens," notes Head Golf Professional Albert Mackenzie.
They're both reason enough to stay an extra night at Saunton Sands Hotel, just a minute's drive up the road from the golf club. Perched on cliffs overlooking Saunton and the coastline, it's hard to get torn away from the balcony bar and restaurant here. The hotel features many larger, apartment-style units that cater especially to larger groups, making it ideal for touring golf groups.
Across the estuary from Saunton is England's oldest links club: Royal North Devon, which is a throwback links stuck in time. Sheep inhabit the opening and closing holes, while the remainder plays along coastal stretches littered with wild Great Sea Rush.
On the opposite end of the Atlantic Links and nearest to Bristol is Burnham & Berrow Golf Club, one of the area's top championship links. Many of the U.K.'s top golfing minds played a hand in the making of the course, from Herbert Fowler to Alister Mackenzie and most notably Harry Colt. The result is a venue that has become a favorite for some of England's top amateur events, and the club has produced over 40 professional golfers in its history.
For lodging, head just a few minutes to the Woodlands Country House Hotel. New ownership, a South African couple with many years of culinary and hospitality expertise, has revitalized this rural country house set on four acres of beautiful Brent Knoll property into one of the area's most charming properties.
Perhaps the most unique of all the courses in Southwest England is St. Enodoc Golf Club's Church Course. Each tee presents a view and a challenge totally in its own. The course overlooks the Camel Estuary at certain points, while darting inland and playing around the 12th century church at the 10th hole.
For lodging, head across the estuary to the Metropole Hotel, which looms over the town in an old, turn-of-the-20th-century building once used for summer vacationing aristocrats. It's located in the center of Padstow, a charming, old-fashioned fishing village with a worldly reputation for seafood, now home to four restaurants from celebrity chef Rick Stein. The tiny downtown area is easily walkable and full of tiny shops set along narrow, stone streets. Beaches are nearby as well.
For more information on the courses and accommodations of England's Southwest Atlantic Links, visit www.atlantic-links.co.uk.
July 29, 2008
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
Dublin is Ireland's largest and most tourist-friendly city, with marquee attractions from the Book of Kells to the Guinness brewery, But Ireland's best known golf courses are almost all on the west coast, in the northwest or in Northern Ireland. Because of this, many golfers on wish-list trips never set foot in the capital. That's a shame, because a trip to Dublin can combine the charms of all things urban and Irish with exceptional -- and inexpensive -- links and parkland golf.
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