Discover the South West’s Premier Championship Links Golf Courses by Playing the Atlantic Links Trail.
England’s Atlantic Links, a collection of six premier links courses in South West England, is one of the UK’s premier golfing destinations set against the wild and dramatic backdrop of the north Atlantic coastline. Playable all year round and in immaculate condition thanks to the temperate climate in the South West, this cluster of golfing gems is still relatively-unknown and a joy to discover.
This tantalizing trail also takes in some of the most fascinating and varied attractions that the region has to offer from historic monuments to quaint fishing villages, national parks to picturesque gardens, museums of culture to local art galleries.
Somerset’s Burnham & Berrow Golf Club is the ideal gateway to golf in the south west and a good place to start to begin this golfing odyssey. Founded in 1890, Burnham & Berrow is a highly-regarded links that has evolved over the decades to today’s layout which is largely the work of the revered architect Harry Colt. It is characterised by distinct sand hills that form stubborn, natural obstacles, along with buckthorn and a marsh to create a course that is both interesting and challenging. The club’s first professional was the legendary JH Taylor, five times an Open champion, who described the course as “one of the most sporting courses conceivable”.
After golf, explore the historic town of Bath with its fine Roman Baths and Georgian architecture of the iconic Royal Crescent or take a trip to the dramatic limestone gorge at Cheddar Gorge, set in the Mendip Hills, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The 2nd green of Saunton West
Next day make your way down to Devon to play the two championship courses at Saunton, set in the remote shadows of the giant sand dunes of Braunton Burrows.
Inaugurated in 1893, Saunton’s West and East courses are recognized as two of the greatest links in the world. Indeed Sir Nick Faldo once said, "I've no doubt if the East Course were located on the coast of Lancashire or Kent it would have hosted an Open Championship by now." The West Course is also an exceptional challenge in its own right.
Post golf, work up an appetite by taking a walk along the miles and miles of Saunton Sands and then indulge in the ‘best fish & chips in the south west’ at Squire’s Restaurant in Braunton.
The approach to the green on the 1st hole at the St Enodoc Golf Club
The Royal North Devon is England’s oldest links course with a heritage that dates back to 1864 and as a result possesses a treasure trove of golf memorabilia second only to the R&A.
The golf course itself has hardly changed in 150 years. This gently undulating course is set on common land on which livestock still graze. Ignore your titanium clubs and it’s almost like stepping back in time to golf in Victorian England.
From here, take the A39 Atlantic Highway to Cornwall, stopping off at the historic Tintagel Castle, a medieval fortification linked to the legend of King Arthur. Continue until you reach Rock on the North Cornish coast where the beguiling St Enodoc course awaits.
Founded in 1890 and designed by James Braid, the Church Course has an unrivalled setting among the dunes overlooking the Camel Estuary and with far-reaching views over the north Atlantic. The Church course, so called because of the Norman Church that was uncovered in the middle of the course, is renowned for its towering Himalaya bunker, reputedly the tallest in Europe.
From Rock take the ferry to the famous fishing port of Padstow, known for its gastronomic seafood, artisan shops and art galleries. Alternatively head for one of a number of stunning sandy beaches such as Daymer Bay, take a bike along the picturesque Camel Estuary Trail or visit the charming fishing villages of Port Isaac.
Trevose's 4th green against the Atlantic backdrop.
The following day, play the brilliant Harry Colt links at Trevose Golf & Country Club, set against the majestic Trevose Head and sweeping Constantine Bay. With only a gentle breeze the 6,973-yard championship course provides good scoring opportunities, particularly with three par 5’s, but the character of the course is transformed when the winds blows in from the sea.
To round off the day, take in some of Cornwall’s rich culture by exploring the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Museum and Tate St Ives, displaying the very best in modern and local art, or wander around the celebrated Eden Project and fascinating Lost Gardens of Heligan.
Whilst in the south west, the gastronomic delights of the region are not to be missed either, from the exceptional restaurants of famous local chefs like Rick Stein and Nathan Outlaw, amongst a variety of other Michelin-starred restaurants, to real English ale and authentic pub grub in an abundance of traditional country pubs.
The M5 motorway and A39 “Atlantic Highway” link Somerset, Devon and Cornwall with the international airports at Bristol, Exeter, London Heathrow and London Gatwick.