East Devon GC finds itself between Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton. It really doesn’t get much airtime outside the local area but it’s my job to tell you that this place is the real deal. Standing on the first tee box I was faced with a dreary, grey morning and showers of rain. For a course perched high above the sea, that is a real blow but East Devon certainly doesn’t rely on its views. It’s a heathland for the most part, with a touch of moorland and one hole, the seventh, which seemed to be on a completely different piece of land and is parkland in nature.
Harry Colt, with notable contributions from Herbert Fowler and James Braid, is largely responsible for the design of this classy layout. At times, you could be in Surrey or Berkshire. Not just for the look of the holes but also the impeccable conditioning. The fairways and greens were wonderfully firm, and all the rain was doing was making them skiddier.
A tip of the hat to the greens staff here – this was one of the best conditioned courses we played across England’s south. Julian, the managing secretary, explains that the course manager, Paul, is also the course-record holder. That figures.
The friendly members who excuse our fractionally late arrival and let us sneak out ahead of them are rightly proud of their club. It’s a cracker and it should enter the wider conversation more frequently when discussing great heathland golf.