Golf Links Rd, Westward Ho!,
nr Bideford, Devon EX39 1HD
18 holes. Seaside links. Gently undulating terrain - easy to walk.
Original design by Old Tom Morris (1864); modified to the current layout by Herbert Fowler (1908).
9-hole Pimpley Ground par-3 course.
10 miles W of Barnstaple
From Barnstaple take the A39 west for 9 mi, direction Bideford. After crossing the River Torridge bridge, turn right at the roundabout and follow A386 direction Northam/Westward Ho! After o.3 mi turn right direction Town Centre and follow Golf signs for o.7 mi through Northam. Golf is on your right in Golf Links Rd.
Royal North Devon Golf Club: Many golf aficionados hold RND in very high esteem. After all, it is England's oldest golf course, and much steeped in history. It is also the starting point for the career of one of England's greatest professional golfers, JH Taylor, and a great amateur, Horace Hutchinson. Teeing it up at Westward Ho! is to take a step into the timeless world of authentic seaside links golf.
The layout of this open treeless links has not changed much for well over 100 years. On relatively flat wind-exposed terrain, golfers still share the Northam Burrows (dunes) with sheep and horses; the greens are roped off from the grazing livestock. The layout's main defences are found in a wide array of strategically located bunkers. Many mischievous pot bunkers are complemented by yawning railway-sleepered traps; Cape bunker at the par-4 4th is the most intimidating. Water ditches also put in some telling appearances.
Arguably the best stretch of holes starts with the excellently bunkered par-4 4th and runs through to the par-4 10th. This stretch of holes utilises a natural pebble ridge and brings you closest to the expansive beaches at the mouth of the River Taw. The superb par-4 6th is included in this stretch. Either side of this excellent run of holes, the layout occupies flatter terrain where white marker stones help you pick the right line in a relatively featureless environment.
RND is not a manicured course, nor should it be. Many golfers revere Westward Ho! as links golf at its most authentic and best. Others looking for a dramatic and testing 'trophy' course may be a tad disappointed. Either way, it's well worth a visit to England’s oldest golf course; it might just get you hooked on golf as it was meant to be!
Visitors welcome on weekdays and after midday on weekends.
Must book in advance. Handicap required.
Credit cards accepted. Contact club for full details, discounts, packages, etc. [Last updated: 2020].
Players generally walk this course. Caddies available (if requested in advance).
Royal North Devon is home to the oldest surviving golf course in England (est. 1864), and the world's second oldest Ladies Golf Club (1868) (one year younger than St Andrews Ladies, 1867). Royal Blackheath (1608) in London is a much older golf club, but its members play on a relatively new course (1923). In RND's clubhouse you'll find a small museum, with many historical artefacts and interesting insights into the game.
One of England's greatest golfers, John Henry "J.H." Taylor, was born in nearby Northam. Aged 11 he was employed as a caddy and labourer at RND. He turned professional at 19, and became a five-time Open Championship winner, and member of the renowned "Great Triumvirate" with James Braid and Harry Vardon.
Queen Victoria conferred the Royal prefix on North Devon GC in 1867, based on the patronage of her son, Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII). By royal prerogative, 19 English golf clubs use the "Royal" title, namely: Ascot, Ashdown Forest, Birkdale, Blackheath, Cinque Ports, Cromer, Eastbourne, Epping Forest, Household (Windsor Castle), Liverpool (Hoylake), Lytham & St Annes, Mid-Surrey, North Devon (Westward Ho!), Norwich, St George's, West Norfolk (Brancaster), Wimbledon, Winchester, Worlington & Newmarket.
England: 39th best course in England (Golf World, 2021).
Fosketh Hill, Westward Ho!, Bideford, Devon
+44 (0)1237 479 421Visit website
Culloden House was built around 1865 as a residence for one of the founder members of Royal North Devon GC. Originally called 'Golfston', it was one of Westwood Ho's earliest buildings, and is now a family run guest house.
Royal North Devon
Youngaton Rd, Westward Ho!, North Devon EX39 1HU
+44 (0)1237 477 331Visit website
Set in this pretty and historic seaside resort, The Village Inn at Westward Ho! offers family run accommodation. The spacious guest rooms have full en-suite facilities; most also offer sea views.
Royal North Devon
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