South Devon’s golf courses combine enjoyable holes with spectacular landscapes, from the peaceful inland countryside of Dartmouth Golf and Country Club to the dramatic coastal courses at Thurlestone and Bigbury.
We’ve picked the brains of two of our team’s keen golfers to find out more about these three courses in South Devon, to bring you an insider’s view of their history, character, and what makes them stand out.
How about a golfing holiday? We’ve picked out some fantastic self-catering properties just a quick walk or short drive from the courses.
Born and raised locally, Jon Doyle, Operations Director at Coast & Country Cottages, had his first taste of golf in 1975. The chance came when Thurlestone Golf Club, through its Artisan scheme, gave youngsters from the village a chance to experience this traditional game.
Jon takes up the story:
“I remember the resident golf professional during this time, Jock Foale, who had the total respect of all us. I was in awe of him. At this time, all the local boys used to caddy during the school holidays, and Jock would allocate us players. It was a good way of earning some pocket money, allowed us to learn more about the course and, more importantly, gave us an insight into the etiquette.”
He drifted away to other sports, returning to golf only in 1993, when Jon joined Bigbury Golf Club for a few years. Jon didn’t play golf seriously again until 2015, when he rejoined Thurlestone Golf Club –40 years after playing there as a boy!
Bigbury Golf Club
Jon told us that, “like Thurlestone, Bigbury is a true links course, set above the cliff tops amidst stunning views out to sea. Even if your golf is suffering you cannot tire of the fabulous scenery.”
This 18 hole, 6014 yard, par 70 course at Bigbury was designed by the legendary golfer and architect, John Henry Taylor (1871 – 1963). Taylor was a proud Devonian, who rose from childhood poverty to win the Open Championship five times, captain the British Ryder Cup team, and co-found the Professional Golfers’ Association. Understandably, Bigbury Golf Course remains immensely proud of its relationship with this giant of the game.
It’s a family friendly club, where visitors are welcome. Find out more on the Bigbury Golf Club website.
Why not take a break in this special part of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, famous for its expansive beaches, coastal walks and unforgettable views of Burgh Island?
Our properties in this area include…
25 Burgh Island (Bigbury-On-Sea, sleeps 4, VisitEngland Four Star Gold)
Seaspray (Bigbury-On-Sea, sleeps 8, VisitEngland Four Star Gold)
2 Avon Quillet (Bigbury-On-Sea, sleeps 6, VisitEngland Four Star Gold)
Thurlestone Golf Club
Designed by Harry Colt, this coastal course couldn’t be better placed for views of Thurlestone Rock, the Avon Estuary and Burgh Island. Golf Monthly described it as an “exhilarating… mix of links and cliff-top terrain.”
The club has its roots in the late 19th century, with its inaugural meeting on 13th March 1897 at the Kings Arms in Kingsbridge. This was two years after a nine-hole course, small clubhouse and tennis courts had already been constructed on donated land. The club quickly attracted renown, with one contemporary journalist writing, “God practised by making heaven before he made Thurlestone.”
Jon described his boyhood golf club, where he now plays regularly again, as ‘a fantastic links course’, albeit one where the elements can present a challenge.
“Being on the cliff tops does mean that the wind can be a huge factor. For example, at the 165 par 3 at Thurlestone, you could be hitting a 9 iron if the wind is with you, or you will struggle to hit the green with a 3 wood if you are driving into a strong headwind. It is the changing conditions that make the course both challenging and enjoyable.”
Jon isn’t the only member of our team to choose Thurlestone over other local clubs. Keen golfer Ashley Crow, Property Maintenance Assistant at Coast & Country Cottages, is also a member of Thurlestone Golf Club, having tried the other golf courses in South Devon first. Ashley told us:
“Having played at all three local courses, I found Thurlestone Golf Club offered a much warmer welcome and, for a links course, the green fees were very reasonable. The facilities are great, they serve food seven days a week to a great standard, with lots of fresh local produce. The real ales are a treat on a hot summer’s day.”
On the level challenge provided by the course at Thurlestone, Ashley said:
”It is by far the most challenging course I have played in and around Devon and Cornwall. The weather changes the course on a day-to-day basis – if the wind’s blowing it’s tough and can get the better of you. The green staff keep it in an amazing condition come rain or shine though.”
According to Ashley, the variety provided by the fantastic facilities is another plus:
“Even if you’re not heading out for a round of golf there are plenty of training facilities, chipping greens, long iron practice and two putting greens. If you’re feeling slightly more energetic then you can even have a game of tennis on one of the 12 grass courts.”
As is the case with Jon, for Ashley it’s the scenery that really shines.
“No matter how bad your round of golf is you’re never let down by the amazing coastal views, overlooking South Milton Sands and Bantham.”
Visitors are welcome and short-term memberships of one to two weeks are available.
Coast & Country Cottages offers 27 holiday homes in the picturesque coastal village of Thurlestone, within easy reach of a popular village pub, the luxurious Voyage Spa and a stunning stretch of the South West Coast Path.
Dartmouth Golf Club
Designed by Jeremy Pern, there are two impressive golf courses within the beautiful grounds and unspoilt surrounding landscape of the Dartmouth Golf and Country Club.
Golf Monthly magazine has listed these courses in their Top 100 hidden gems in Great Britain.
Jon described the course at Dartmouth Golf and Country Club as “ideal for those who prefer to play a more parkland type course, with a challenging 18 hole, 7200 yard, par 72 championship course, as well as a 9 hole, 2252 yard, par 33 course.”