Golf has always had something of a reputation as a holiday sport – golf courses in the Algarve and on the Med paving the way for tourist development in Portugal and Spain in the 1970s and 80s. However, the UK golfing holiday has been a feature of popular tourist spots for far longer and North Devon is no exception.
New figures from Sport England suggest that golf is on the upswing again! Statistics point to a modest rise in the number of people playing golf in the UK after almost a decade of decline and North Devon golf breaks are also seeing a rise in popularity. The Carlton Hotel, situated in the pretty seaside town of Ilfracombe is within striking distance of some excellent courses and some real golfing history.
Play and Stay the Carlton Way!
To set the tone for a great North Devon golfing break, the Carlton offers a Play and Stay package (starting at £67.50 per person, per night) which includes, three course dinner, stay, breakfast and a hefty discount off green fees at nearby Ilfracombe Golf Club.
Three of the Best: North Devon Golf Courses!
What commends the Ilfracombe Golf Club course? For a start, the location is hard to beat – you can literally “See the sea from every tee”. Its 18 holes progress along the cliff top, overlooking the rugged North Devon coastline, with views that extend out over the Bristol Channel and beyond, to the Welsh Hills in the distance (the club’s hole by hole video gives the ultimate visual guide).
The course is open year roundthanks to a little help from Ilfracombe’s contributing microclimate and impeccable grounds keeping. The club house has a reputation for its convivial bar and good food (available all day), although be advised that the club, like most, does have a dress code that needs to be respected.
The Carlton’s Play and Stay package is ideal for a quick getaway, but there is also the option to extend your North Devon golfing break and complete a tour of North Devon golf courses. The Carlton serves as an excellent base to return to at the end of each day, where comfortable en suite rooms invite comfort and relaxation while the great foodand locally sourced drinks of the hotel Brasserie provide the opportunity to reflect and revive, ready for the next round.
Of North Devon’s golf courses, two in particular have interesting histories. Let’s start with the Royal North Devon Golf Club at Westward Ho! which made the Golf World list of ‘Top 100 golf courses in the world a golfer must play’. Its claim to be the ‘cradle of English golf’ comes with the provenance of being founded in 1864 and mirroring the development of the newly created seaside town of Westward Ho! (named after the novel by author Charles Kingsley). It has a reputation as ‘the St Andrews of the South’ and the links are some of the most challenging in the country, making this a very desirable stop on a UK golfing holiday.
Since its establishment in 1897, the Saunton Golf Club has gone through various incarnations, expanding from an initial 9 hole to its present day 36 hole status. Located on the fringes of the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Braunton Burrows, the holes are divided between the West and the East courses. Saunton enjoys a healthy bit of competition with its older North Devon rival and gleefully trumpets its own credentials too, with its two courses ranked 32 and 67 in the Golf World Top 100 (while claiming “there is only one Club with 2 better links courses in the whole country and that is St Andrews!”).
If the former heavyweight courses sound a little too daunting, the region offers less testing alternatives that come with their own charmsand also a few challenges. These include nearby Woolacombe and Morthoe, Portmore Golf Park on the fringes of Barnstaple (9 and 18 hole options), the picturesque Torrington Golf Club (9 holes) and Libbaton (18 hole parkland course).
There are also numerous courses en route to North Devon, should one want to turn a break into a grand tour! The Carlton has a deal with Minehead Golf Course, to name one, which ensures arriving or departing golfers from Devon can ensure they maximise their time away on the greens.
North Devon Golf – An Attractive Proposition
North Devon golf courses have been providing challenging conditions in beautiful locations for many years. For this reason the area has always been popular with golfers looking to get away from it all for a few days – not only from within the UK but also from parts of Europe where the sport is significantly more expensive to practice.
With North Devon serviced by two provincial airports (Bristol is two hours away and Exeter is one hour away), visiting golfers from northern European countries have been making the most of a favorable Euro to Pound exchange rate and discovering the delights of North Devon golf breaks. As well as great golfing, the region also has so much more to offer with opportunities to enjoy wonderful beaches, beautiful countryside, adventure and an abundance of native wildlife.
On the golf course meanwhile, golfers will have their sights set on specific targets and be hoping to capture a satisfying birdie, congratulatory eagle, memorable albatross or legendary condor! If you’re looking for a rewarding UK golf holiday head to the West Country! Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and book a Play and Stay North Devon golfing break with the Carlton.