We take a look at eight of the best golf courses in Somerset.
The Best Golf Courses In Somerset
From Bath to Weston-super-Mare, the county of Somerset has some fine golf courses including the stunning but challenging Burnham and Berrow with its Championship and Channel courses. With Ireland giving little protection from the howling winds and crashing waves of the North Atlantic, conditions can be incredibly tough on each of these tracks but each provide enjoyable golfing experiences that you should try out too.
Related: Golf Monthly’s UK&I Top 100 Courses
Burnham & Berrow is an absolute classic that scores highly in all departments. It has hosted many top tournaments, including qualifying for the Open Championship, and is a genuine out and back links from the very top drawer. Its 120-year evolution has seen input from such luminaries as WH Fowler, Harold Hilton, Alister MacKenzie, and probably most of all, Harry Colt. There isn’t a weak hole on the course, and even without a breeze (which is probably never!), the design offers constant challenge and enjoyment in equal measure.
It is quite difficult to mention standout holes when you have a course that is packed with them, but into the wind, the 18th is a colossus of a par 4 to a well bunkered green by the clubhouse. On site is a small Dormy House which can accommodate up to eight golfers, and whilst there are few who deny that this is the finest course in the county, some also argue that the 9-hole Channel course is actually the second best!
Taunton and Pickeridge
As you play the first three holes at this extremely welcoming club, you may be thinking that although the setting is lovely, the golf itself doesn’t really quite match. But wait! From the 4th onwards, as you head out over the gentle undulations of its lush green fairways, there are some cracking holes which combine to make this a hugely enjoyable round. There is a particularly strong trio leading to the turn – the 7th is a tough dog-leg left, the 8th a short hole which can play a lot longer than its yardage into a southerly, and the 9th is a rollercoaster of a par-5 with a green to match. If you are lucky, you may well see a buzzard or kestrel; in my case, the only chance of a birdie! On the back nine, the 14th is an excellent par 3 that doesn’t need any bunkers to protect it, whilst the 17th is the best hole on the course, a tough dog-leg down into a dip with a pond beside it before a testing long approach. If the closing hole back up to the clubhouse is a little anti-climatic, the local brews and friendly banter inside will guarantee that you leave this very pleasing club with a smile on your face.
High up on the hills in the north of the county, Clevedon is another very friendly members’ club with an eclectic mix of quite undulating holes that change the nature and style of the course as you work your way around. Starting along the ridge overlooking the Severn Estuary, you reach a short ‘drop hole’ at four before a tough two-shotter back up again. The 6th is a very good-looking par 4 with a pond that demands an aerial approach to the lowest point on the course, before two solid par 4s back up to the clubhouse. The 10th green is the highest point on the course before a handful of secluded holes on the sheltered side of Castle Hill which lead you to the club’s signature hole, the 16th. This is a short dogleg right from a very elevated tee where the big boys may want to have a crack at the green. It is a shame that the final hole is also probably the least interesting, but with birdie opportunities at each of the closing four, there is a chance to redeem your score. All in all, an unusual and interesting mix of holes which, coupled with the welcome in the clubhouse, make for a very enjoyable visit.
Originally known as Cannington Park and set right on the edge of the Quantock Hills, the club was renamed when it moved to its current, peaceful location not far from Bridgwater in 1932. Although it was a 9-hole course in its first two incarnations, Fred Hawtree was enlisted in the early 1970s to expand the layout to a full 18 and it now provides a fine test. The tree-lined course runs uphill away from the clubhouse at the 1st and the 10th, with both playing substantially longer than their yardage. However, this means there is the payback of downhill finishes on both nines. Aside from a good number of strategic bunkers, there is a stream that crosses seven of the holes which in places has been widened to create very attractive and, as you would expect, golf ball-magnetic ponds. These come very much into play on the 4th, the 7th and the 14th, all holes where you need to plan your route. The course is kept in excellent condition and despite the dry start to the year, it was beautifully green in early May. As proof of its test, in conjunction with Burnham & Berrow, the course this year co-hosted the British Boys’ Championship.
High up in the hills, this time to the south of Bath, sits the challenging downland Mendip course with its panoramic views of seven counties, Glastonbury Tor and over to Exmoor. Originally a 9-holer, it was extended by Frank Pennink in 1965 and now offers a varied test with some real birdie chances at the start and end, some tough par 4s such as the 7th, 10th and 16th, and some very pretty scenery. For me, the stars of the show are the 176-yard 12th which is played over a wall to a two-tier green and the par-4 15th with a really eye-catching pond on the left, strategic bunkering on the right, and a gentle rise to a sloping green. The course’s elevation means that the wind can be a significant factor, but despite the occasionally uneven lie, it is quite fair and can be enjoyed by all levels of golfer. There are few courses that offer such far-reaching views, and even if you are not playing your best, you will find it hard not to enjoy the bracing walk followed by the tasty and well-priced refreshments on offer in the clubhouse.
Set at the south end of Weston Bay with views across the Bristol Channel, Weston-super-Mare is a fine old links course dating from the late 19 th Century. In 1922 renowned course architect Dr Alister MacKenzie was employed to alter and modernise the layout and his creation is largely still in play today. The course features a stiff finish, from the sprawling par-4 15 th to the testing closing hole where out of bounds waits long and right of the green.
Designed by Brian Huggett in the mid 1990’s, the course at Orchardleigh is set within the country estate of the same name. Combined with a huge Victorian mansion, an island church and a boathouse, it is truly a peaceful and idyllic round of golf.
With water coming into play on seven of the holes and measuring at over 6,800 yards off the back tees, it will provide a firm test of your game. The hardest hole is arguably the sixth with its two-tiered green and out of bounds to the left.
It sometimes seems as though Harry Colt must have franchised his expertise, such is the proliferation of first-class courses bearing his design stamp. Here, he was called in to upgrade the downland course which sits on high ground overlooking the city and which had already benefited from the attentions of both Taylor and Braid. Feature holes include the 14th where you tee off from inside an ancient quarry, and the 17th, a short dogleg with a beautiful drystone wall lining the right and a string of hidden hollows just short of the green.
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