With strong winds in North Devon the West Course at Saunton provided a difficult test but some great golf was on display in the seventh Volkswagen Masters Regional Final.
There are very few golf courses which take the breath away like Saunton. The views from the friendly, understated clubhouse are truly magnificent and leave you itching to get out and play one of the two fantastic courses. The enormous dunes dominate the skyline and provide the perfect setting for a classic links layout.
The Volkswagen Masters Regional Final took place on the West Course where accuracy takes precedent over long hitting and good course management is vital to low scoring. Players are rewarded by hitting into the right spots which leaves easier approaches into difficult greens.
A strong wind which blew across on many holes meant that birdies were a rarity and many players struggled to post a score. There were however two terrific scores which blew away the competition. The first came from the winner of Group A, Hugh Burton (pictured centre) from Downes Crediton Golf Club. The nine-handicapper shot a round of nett 68 to secure his place in the UK Final. ?I putt the ball in the right areas and scrambled really well. I miss-clubbed a few times but was able to get up and down a lot,? said Burton.
Burton proved that long hitting was not the key to good scoring. ?I have played here a number of times and the West Course suits my game much more than the East. It requires you to place the ball in the right pace and hitting it long is not so much of a priority,? he said.
Group B was won with an incredible score by Dartmouth member Roger Mawson (pictured right). The 10-handicapper shot a brilliant round of nett 66 to win his group by a massive eight shots. ?I hit the ball pretty straight and kept out of trouble today which was the main thing. That?s one of the best rounds I have played in a long time,? he said. In difficult conditions Mawson?s score was the second best round on the 2007 Volkswagen Masters and he will certainly be one to watch at the UK Final at Celtic Manor in September.
It was a good day for Downes Crediton Golf Club as Group C was also won by a member of the club. Richard Gallagher (pictured left) shot a nett 76 off a handicap of 24 to secure the win. ?I struggled a little on the front nine but came back a lot better by keeping it on the fairway and playing steady. The scenery, the greens and the layout were all superb ? it was a very enjoyable day,? he said.
DATE: June 29
VENUE: Saunton (West Course)
T: 01271 812013
STATS: par 71, SSS 71, 6403 yards
GF: £35-£80 including lunch
Ranked No. 52 in the Golf Monthly Top 120 Course Rankings
Saunton has played host to a multitude of big tournaments ? for example Sergio Garcia won the British Boys? Championship here in 1997.
The West Course arguably places a greater emphasis on course management than its neighbouring East Course, requiring careful attention to club selection. At the same time the opportunity to open your shoulders and give the driver a thump is tempting on some tees and the course is playable for all handicaps.
The general presentation of all hazards is excellent with the ditches and traps readily visible. The ever-changing slopes on the putting surfaces mean approach shots need to be played to the right part of the green if players are to have any chance of birdie.
This really is a beautiful place to play golf ? the course is situated within Braunton Burrows which has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Burrows are said to contain more than 400 species of wild flower including orchids and poppies.