We profile four dramatic layouts, one of which was created by dynamite

Bovey Castle
Bovey Castle has some pretty holes early on, on which the river dominates. The river is not wide and the water is fairly clear. You do not do not necessarily lose your ball if you dunk it in the water especially as there is a generous supply of ball retrievers on the banks.

The first hole is a par 4 which plunges down a valley, over this river. The doglegged 2nd the river runs along in front of the green making for a tricky approach shot.

Water is all over the par-3 3rd on which the green juts out into a lake, and the 6th is another attractive one-shotter with water in play – that river again.

golf courses of south devon

The opening hole at Bovey Castle, a par 4. Credit: Roderick Easdale

The 7th, with the river meandering alongside the right flank of the fairway, was named by Henry Cotton in his favourite 18 holes in Britain.

The back nine at Bovey Castle lacks some of the drama and beauty of the front nine, but this is a good track.

Dartmouth
The dramatic main course has been carved or, in the case of the 10th fairway blasted by dynamite, out of attractive hillsides.

The front nine at Dartmouth G&CC is the more varied, with three par 3s, three par 4s and three par 5s. The 3rd starts a memorable stretch and is played from a tee towering over a lake to a long thin green with foliage on the left and a steep run-off to the right which leads towards a stream.

The par-3 3rd at Dartmouth G&CC, as seen from the ladies' tee

The par-3 3rd at Dartmouth G&CC, as seen from the ladies’ tee

The par-5 4th is played along a fairway little more than the width of a cricket pitch in parts, with out of bounds on the right and a stream running the length of the hole on the left and snaking round behind the green.

The 5th, another watery par 3, is the most lucrative hunting place for the divers who clear the many lakes of balls once a year.

The flatter nine-hole course has two par 5s and five par 3s and includes fun holes, including the 1st, a par 3 played up to a green cut as a ledge into steep hillside, the sweeping par-5 7th and the par-3 9th which is played from on high over a lake to the green – as is the closing hole on the Championship course.

East Devon
This track is laid out above Budleigh Salterton, at the western end of the World Heritage Jurassic Coast and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Peter Alliss has described the view from the 16th tee as ‘the best in golf’.

This hole is called Otter View and the view from the tee is along the coastline, taking in Budleigh Salterton, the beach and Otter Head at the mouth of the River Otter.

golf courses of south devon

The view from the 16th tee at East Devon

But the 10th was probably my favourite hole at East Devon, a 148-yarder across a valley to a three-tiered green with bunkers front, left, and right.

East Devon is a heathland cliff-top course. Heather and gorse abound and can occasionally make for some tight drives.

Thurlestone
You don’t get a more apt club to be included in our selection of best golf courses in South Devon than Thurlestone. It is the most southerly course in Devon, with a dramatic setting and enjoyable golf holes.

It runs along the coastline of Bigbury Bay with the some superb views across to Thurlestone Rock and Burgh Island.

golf courses of south devon

The 6th hole at Thurlestone

This exhilarating course is a mix of links and cliff-top terrain, and the best holes tend to come early in the round. This is the stretch which hugs the plummeting coastline.

The front nine at Thurlestone is also much shorter, and par 33 to the back nine’s par 38. All three par 5s come in the final seven holes.

There is little in the way of vegetation to snare a ball or obstruct those views.