The Takeaway: Certainly one of the finest 36 hole facilities in England, the East course at Saunton is the superior 18 but both courses enjoy excellent linksland and are fine tests. Nothing jaw dropping, just solid from start to finish. Grade B
Designer: Herbert Fowler 1919 (Original 9 holes 1897; up to 18 holes 1908, C.K. Cotton 1950s)
Cost: £80 - £130 Click for current rates
Phone Number: +44 1271 812436
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Saunton Golf Club (East)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Braunton , EX33 1LG – UNITED KINGDOM
What to Expect: The East course at Saunton feels like a younger sibling of Royal Birkdale. Not as big, not as tough, not as long, but similar in the terrain and bunkering strategy; although there are many more bunkers on the British Open staple. The terrain is rippled but mild in its elevation changes and provides for a comfortable walk. There are 13 par 4s (14 from the yellow tees) including an astounding seven in a row. While that could lose some golfer's interest, the design of the two-shotters keep players engaged throughout the routing. There are very few holes that wow you at Saunton, but there is equally nothing to disappoint you. It is a solid links course from start to finish that doesn't have the views of the sea others are accustomed to but delivers a good test and exceptional greensites. As is common with most courses in the UK, players will be required to walk but can rent a trolley to help tote their clubs around.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 10th Hole – 337 Yard Par 4 – Playing southeasterly off the tee, this short par four gives players an excellent opportunity to start the back nine with a birdie. The elevated tee plays to a generous fairway before turning slightly left and playing uphill to a greensite set above a pair of bunkers. The severe tier in the putting surface demands hitting your approach shot on the proper level to have a legitimate chance at birdie.
Best Par 3: 13th Hole – 158 Yards – The only par three in a nine hole stretch that features eight par fours, the 13th plays to a green encircled by fescue and offering views of the English countryside in the distance. Two pot bunkers help protect the green and the undulated putting surface provides some interesting and challenging putts to contend with. Don't miss this green as par saves are few and far between for those that do.
Best Par 4: 6th Hole – 369 Yards – A classic dogleg left with no bunkers to contend with, the 6th plays over a creek and asks players to play with precision rather than brute strength when navigating it. With no bunkers or distinguishing features to utilize as an aiming line, players are better to play conservatively and make sure to find the short grass than to get aggressive trying to overpower this two-shotter. A creek runs along the right side so tee shots that squirt that direction can result in a penalty. The first of a seven hole stretch of par fours, you need to have your tee shots in order for the rest of the middle routing of the course.
Best Par 5: 2nd Hole – 527 Yards – The first of two par fives on the course, the 2nd at Saunton's East course follows a large dune line that sets the right side of the fairway. With expansive views of the English country creating the background, the hole gently bends to the left the entire way to the green before finding a raised putting surface protected by a trio of bunkers along the front. Reaching this green in two is all about properly judging the rise in the putting surface and staying out of the fescue covered dune behind it.
Birdie Time: 5th Hole – 122 Yard Par 3 – The only par three on the front is a cute offering that plays slightly uphill to a green with a pair of bunkers on the left. With a scoring club in your hand, taking dead aim at the day's flag is prudent in most conditions. With the rise in the green, this hole plays a few yards longer than the card indicates so take that into account while going pinseeking.
Bogey Beware: 14th Hole – 455 Yard Par 4 – Another hole that is easy on the eye and set through choppy dunes, the 14th is a tough test. A pair of fairway bunkers sit just outside the short grass on the right side and encourage players to error on the left if they aren't going to stripe one down the middle. The fairway narrows enroute to a greensite that plays to a gentle, but steady, rise. The length combined with a challenging green to hit in regulation combine to create a hole that is easy to bogey.