Golfers inspired by the links golf they watched during The Open Championship at Royal Troon should consider heading for the Atlantic Links, a collection of the six premier championship links courses in south west England.
For many golfers, links golf is seen as the purest form of the game over the most natural form of a golf course and on a fine day, these courses offers sublime golf with big blue skies, a gentle breeze and spectacular panoramas over dunes and the adjacent coastline.
The south west, for generations a popular holiday destination, is blessed with a temperate micro climate that makes the north Atlantic Coast one of the driest areas in the country.
Links golf everywhere however can of course take on a very different form when coastal winds bring in high winds and driving rain – something we all witnessed at Troon – which allows the course to bite back, play hard and almost always send scores shooting skywards.
Despite the testing conditions of links golf, many golfers cannot resist the lure of the links with its firm, undulating fairways that can see tee shots run and run, its tricky, lightning greens and challenging blind tee shots.
Though relatively undiscovered, the courses of the Atlantic Links compare very favourably with the links of Scotland and England that are much better known thanks to many of them hosting The Open Championship.
Royal North Devon, for example is regularly referred to as the ‘St Andrews of England’ and lacks nothing in terms of quality or history as it is England’s oldest links course and boasts a treasure chest of golf memorabilia second only to that of the R&A.
Royal North Devon’s summer green fee is just £65 compared to that of the Old Course in St Andrews which charges £175 per round in the summer months or indeed Troon that has a price tag of £220.
Nearby, the West and East courses at Saunton are both considered amongst the top links courses in England. Sir Nick Faldo who played at Saunton as a young boy once said of Saunton’s East Course, “I’ve no doubt that if the East Course were located on the coast of Lancashire or Kent it would have hosted an Open Championship by now”.
Also highly-ranked in course ratings is the classic English championship links at Burnham & Berrow. This demanding course is particularly noted for its distinct sand hills that form stubborn, natural obstacles along with the buckthorn and a marsh that can be found mid-way through a round. Though the course has evolved over the decades since its inception in 1890, the layout today is largely the work of the esteemed golfer and architect, Harry Colt, who revised the course in 1913.
At the western end of the Atlantic Links trail St Enodoc and Trevose both offer exceptional views over the north Atlantic Ocean from almost every hole.
The Church Course at St Enodoc is a gem of a links thanks in the main to its James Braid design and its position high on the dunes overlooking the Camel Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. It also boasts the tallest bunker in Europe – the Himalaya – on the 6th hole and is one of former Open winner Tom Watson’s favourite golf courses.
Neighbouring Trevose, another Harry Colt design, was founded in 1925; it too is an exhilarating test of links golf. Set against the dramatic backdrop of Trevose Head, this championship links can play differently almost every day depending on the strength and direction of the wind. With its stunning seascapes over Constantine beach and Booby’s Bay, Trevose is characterized by a hazardous, meandering stream that winds through the course and its year-round, fast-running greens.
So if inspired by what you saw at Troon, why not head for England’s Atlantic Links to experience some of the country’s finest championship links, spectacular panoramas and challenging golf, all for an exceptionally reasonable green fee?
Atlantic Links Green Fees 2016
Burnham & Berrow Golf Club, Somerset
:: From £50 in winter (Nov to Feb), from £90 in summer
Saunton Golf Club, North Devon
:: From £48 in winter (Nov to March), from £90 in summer
Royal North Devon Golf Club, North Devon
:: From £35 in winter (Nov to March), from £65 in summer
Trevose Golf & Country Club, Cornwall
:: From £40 in winter, from £70 in summer (non-residents)
St Enodoc Golf Club, Cornwall
:: From £45 in winter, from £75 in summer