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.
A weekend, or indeed a midweek, spent on the green is time well spent. Golfing is a favourite leisure activity of many, and it’s easy to see why when you’re on one of Devon’s golf courses. Golfing in North Devon is an experience you won’t want to pass up. Check out these popular golf courses and plan another 18 holes in the North Devon countryside.
Ilfracombe Golf Club
Golfing in North Devon has never been so scenic. The club’s motto, “See the sea from every tee!”, makes Ilfracombe Golf Club one of the most desirable golf courses in North Devon. Sweeping shorelines and breathtaking views from atop its high cliffs give Ilfracombe Golf Club high ratings from golfers, but ocean views aren’t the only thing this club has to offer. Ilfracombe Golf Club is open year-round because of its micro-climate, allowing players to enjoy it 365 days a year.
Younger golf players (and their parents) will be happy to know that Junior membership to the Ilfracombe Golf Club is absolutely free. Winter memberships are available for October-March for those who don’t want to commit to full membership yet. Facilities for this course are equally as impressive as those at other clubs, but the atmosphere at Ilfracombe is one of the friendliest you’ll find. However, you’ll need to dress up – Ilfracombe Golf Club has a dress code that golfers must follow to the tee.
Visitors can enjoy a generous discount off of fees when booked through the Carlton Hotel, which like the course, is open all year round.
Royal North Devon Golf Club
Commonly regarded as the St. Andrew’s of England, the Royal North Devon Golf Club has been around since 1864, making it the oldest golf club in the country. RND is among the more challenging courses in North Devon, but both pros and novices alike can enjoy golfing on the lush terrain. Much has remained unchanged over the years. RND still claims much of its original architecture, though a motorway now surrounds the entire golf course.
Members enjoy a luxurious club house with a restaurant and bar, but visitors can play through the course for a fee. Full membership comes at a steep price and can be a bit pricey for those who aren’t avid golf fans. However, the amenities are more than adequate for the price you have to pay. They include the clubhouse, golf museum, restaurant and social events designed for all ages and levels of playing. Those interested in seeing how the course plays can watch golfers live on the RND site’s webcam.
Portmore Golf Park
Portmore Golf Park is a quiet course found just outside of Barnstaple. Portmore sports 27 holes in total, a 9-hole course and an 18-hole course. Golfing at this North Devon course means you are welcome to golf individually, in groups, or with your family. Unlike some country clubs, Portmore is very inclusive and allows both membership or pay-by-the-day golfing. A family viewing area is available for children to roam freely while parents watch novices and professionals alike hit the greens.
Even if you have no experience golfing in North Devon, or anywhere for that matter, lessons are hosted at the Portmore Golf Park for £35. A more advanced lesson plan is also available for £45 after completing the first, and children ages 6-15 can sign up for the Junior Coaching and Development Programme. Competitions are hosted for Seniors members every month.
Whichever course you decide to play the Carlton team will be delighted to organise your playing arrangements and much more.
Golf Packages are available through the Carlton Hotel with 1/3 off green fees at Ilfracombe Golf Club. Contact Us for more information.