Dartmoor National Park, Devon TQ13 8RE
18 holes. Tree-lined parkland. Undulating terrain - a few slopes to climb (especially on back-nine, and between 9th and 10th holes).
Original design by John Frederick 'Aber' Abercromby. Improvements made by Tom Mackenzie and Donald Steel based on the original layout (2003).
17 miles W of Exeter.
Leave the M5 motorway just south of Exeter at exit 31 and follow the A38 direction Plymouth. After approx 11 miles turn right on to the A382 direction Bovey Tracey. After 9 miles, in Moretonhampstead, turn left onto the B3212 direction Postbridge. After approx 2 miles entrance to Bovey Castle is on your left.
There is no doubting Bovey Castle's 5-star credentials as a great sporting estate and ideal weekend retreat - England's equivalent to the likes of Gleneagles and Turnberry in Scotland, or the K Club in Ireland. However, in terms of the golf course's length and grandeur, Bovey Castle is not quite up there with its celtic rivals.
The front-nine, played on pleasant and flattish parkland terrain, contains some of the tightest holes you'll play on a championship golf course. Small ponds and the River Bovey ensure that water is never far away - the river has to be crossed on the opening seven holes. The tightness and relative shortness of several of the par-4's calls for great accuracy from the tee. From the back-tees, the par-5 4th requires a very precise drive, later matched by the "eye-of-a-needle" tee-shot needed at the longish par-3 12th, and the pencil-thin landing area for your (blind) second shot at the par-5 10th.
The back-nine brings with it some slightly more open and forgiving terrain. The picturesque scenery changes from views of the stunning castle on the front-nine, to more distant vistas of neighbouring wooded hills and up to the open expanses of Dartmoor. The more undulating back-nine, has much less water in play, but severe rough often takes its place. Three blind drives on the closing three holes may well be accompanied by blind approach shots to the 16th and 18th holes. With good maintenance throughout, Bovey Castle provides a very scenic, enjoyable and challenging test, even if the accuracy versus length theme remains ever-present.
Visitors welcome on weekdays and weekends.
Must book in advance. Handicap required.
Credit cards accepted. Contact club for full details, discounts, Stay&Play packages, etc. [Last updated: 2019].
Soft spikes only. Players generally walk this course. Golf carts available for hire.
The modern history of Bovey Castle starts in 1880, when the very successful entreprenuer and politician, Willian Henry Smith (founder of the WH Smith chain of high street bookshops) bought 5,000 acres of Devon land close to North Bovey. Following Smith's death in 1891, his son, the second Viscount Hambleden, decided to build a grand mansion house on the land purchased in Devon. Walter E Smith was commissioned as the architect, and the splendid mansion was built in 1907 in the style of a tudor castle, with a complete disregard for expense. In 1929 the house was acquired by the Great Western Railway Company, and its life as a hotel commenced. The 18-hole golf course was built at this time. In 2003, Peter de Savary (also responsible for the creation of the Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle) acquired Bovey Castle and invested over £30 million in the castle, golf course and estate. The transformed 5-star resort re-opened in April 2004 to great acclaim.
2019 Golf World rating: 45th best Stay&Play golf resort in Britain & Ireland.
North Bovey, Dartmoor National Park, Devon TQ13 8RE
+44 (0)1647 445 000Visit website
Bovey Castle on Dartmoor National Park is one of the original great sporting estates in Britain, in a similar mould to Turnberry or Gleneagles. The individually designed castle rooms and 3-bedroomed lodges provide excellent accommodation. In addition to the Elemis Spa and pool, a challenging golf course and stunning scenery, there are numerous other activities to enjoy, including fly fishing, archery, pistol shooting, tennis, falconry and of course, fine wine and dining.
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