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Sean_A

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Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC New
« on: June 06, 2011, 04:44:08 AM »
One of the many wonderful aspects of living in England is the ever present history of the country.  Often times golf courses are not excepted and at Yelverton a main feature of the course is one of the oldest municipal supplies of water in England.  Drake’s Leat was built in 1591 to supply water from The River Meavy on Dartmoor to Plymouth.  Being the rogue that Drake was and using his power as Mayor of Plymouth, he made a healthy profit of £140 on the project.  The clever construction of the leat meanders for seventeen miles and ran at such a gradual pace so as to minimize erosion.  Originally the leat had stone floors and walls, but eventually most of the stones were removed and used in the construction of buildings. There is an old stone barn next to the 9th tee which in all probability is evidence of this thievery.   The other three main features of Yelverton are the superb use of gullies (remnants of mining works), the alpinization surrounding every green and the beautiful springy moorland turf. These four elements combined with the primordial backdrop of Dartmoor provide an interesting test which on a few occasions is nothing short of thrilling. 

Herbert Fowler designed the course on commoner land known as Roborough Common which by the early 1920s was open for play.  Shortly after WWII Fowler’s string of 8 through 10 was abandoned and a new finishing stretch was built.  I am not nearly old enough to have enjoyed the original course, but similar to Formby’s addition of holes 7 through 10, it is hard to imagine that the present configuration is in any way inferior to the original.  Yelverton’s home stretch of 16, 17 and 18 is nothing short of brilliant.  These James Braid holes were designed with a keen insight as to what constitutes good and proper design principles. 

The first is a gentle opener of a par 3 despite its 200 yard length.  The hole does provide an idea of what is to come and fortunately is the weakest short hole of the set.


The following hole kicks up the interest considerably.  The drive on this longish two-shotter is wide open until the reaching the 150 yard marker. At this point bracken and gorse squeeze the right flank, however, the hole, as is almost without exception the case, is all about the approach. One must carry broken/alps ground in which a bunker is hidden. 


#3 is a blind par 4 measuring less than 300 yards.  The green can be easily reached, but in typical Fowler fashion it runs away from the player. There is also a sentinel bunker guarding the optimal angle in from the left.  The hole isn't deceptive in the least, but earning the much sought after birdie is nonetheless hard work.  Below is a view from the a lay-up point some 80 yards short of the green. 


Another short par 4, the fourth is within reach of the tee.  The drive moves right and is somewhat obscured.  It may seem like the fairways are flat, but in the photo below it is possible to make out the small ridges, rolls and cups which add zest to the game. 


Yelverton's first par 5 is probably my favourite.  The drive for this modest length three-shotter is wide open.  The interest comes with the second if one has hit a long enough drive to go for the green in two.  There is a low rise cops cutting across the fairway at an angle.  From the fairway it looks as though there is loads of room on the right when in fact that landing area is far smaller than it would seem.  The left end of the earth works is hard against the green and a hidden bunker with alpinization abruptly cuts off the right side of the putting surface.  This is a clever hole using a feature which would have cost peanuts to build and maintain.   






The 6th is a short hole which like the 4th, recently had a shave.  The sea of gorse in front of the tee creating blindness has been eliminated to great effect.  This photo was taken from well in front of the green to show the V shape of the green.  The green runs to the back until hitting a ridge about 2/3s of the way to the rear.  The contours also move away from the right edge of the green.   


The 7th is a monster hole of 435 yards playing uphill.  Not a bad hole and likely a good time for length given the shortness of the previous two par 4s, but I found this hole a bit of a slog.  #8 is Fowler's original 11th and introduces Drake's Leat.  Unfortunately, I didn't care much for this hole despite the captivating views of Dartmoor. This 570 yarder doesn't settle well with the previous hole as eating 1000 yards of ground in two holes rarely works. 

Just when the golfer gets settled with the idea of greens moving away from the fairway Fowler throws a changeup.  The 9th green is sloped back to front and because so many greens just appear flat, Fowler likely catches out 9 of 10 players.  The Leat is used well as it effects the drive and the approach for this sub 300 yard hole. 


The back nine begins stout with a 420 yard hole playing uphill on the approach.  Once again the fairway is generous.  I suspect fairway width is essential considering Yelverton is approximately 900 feet above sea level and must experience ravishes of wind to every degree any links might. Its the approach which grabs the player's attention.  The green is sandwiched between lost ball country on the left and a bunker right; a very exacting approach!




Similar to the 8th, #11 doesn't strike me as a par 5 with much interest.  The best thing about the hole is it takes us near the 12 tee.  This superlative hole is puzzling.  There is a runway feeding to the green from the left flanked by a large hillock to the right and the ever-present alps housing sand on the left.  I think the best shot is a somewhat flat mid-iron utilizing the runway.  I may be wrong, but I don't think the green would have held a direct blow.  A look at the green complex from the 3rd tee.


Not to be outdone by the 12th, the long par 4 13th features an approach more heroic than Prestick's Alps.  The drive is merely a prelude which can greatly reward an opening of the shoulders.  Any golfer who is able to reach this green in two will be jumping out of their boots in a desperate bid to smash his drive as far as humanly possible.  The approach is blind and very intimitading due to broken ground being the only visible feature.  Little does one know that this immense gully lies in wait.  The mound on the far side of the gully is volcano bunker.  I believe the mounding is the spoil from digging the gully for mining work.


The next two holes offer a bit of respite.  Both are fairly short par 4s and unusually, the 14th is very tight off the tee.  The road on the left is OOB and continues down the length of the hole and directly behind the green.  This isn't a great hole, but it comes at a great time in the round as two finicky shots are required. 


#15 (Fowler's original finishing hole) is a somewhat dull hole that strangely finishes with the most contoured green on the course.  Now to what has to be one of a handful of the great finishing runs in England with the 16th as a diamond among the sapphires.  This is the only hole at Yelverton in which there is shaping to the fairway and of course it comes in the form of alpinization.  The hole turns fairly hard right and runs down to the alps which can't be seen from the tee and are reachable.  To further complicate matters the objective of getting to the far left side of the fairway is guarded quite closely by trees.  It is incredibly rare to come across a hole which is so compelling and attractive in such an absolute raw manner as is this hole.




The Leat's final appearance is the finest use of the feature and provides plenty of fun and demanding accuracy befitting of a penultimate hole.     




The home hole is a shortened version of the 12th.  Its almost as if the architect is giving the golfer a second chance, but ratcheting the challenge down a notch.  The drive is inviting, but the lay of the land feeds into the lone fairway bunker.  The movement of the land is generally quite sedate at Yelverton considering the position of the course.  Perhaps this is an element which would increase the interest of Yelverton.  I found the approach very deceptive as I thought the mounding was in front of the green when in fact it is a backstop. Again, I think the gully and mounds are remnants of mining work.


Just like #12, there is a brilliantly disguised gulley which must be traversed.


It is slightly irksome the course doesn't finish near the house and indeed the busy A386 must be re-crossed in the lengthy walk back.  This same road also produces noise on several sections of the course which is at odds with the national park atmosphere.  There is no doubt that Yelverton has a handful of indifferent holes, but  balanced against this is at minimum an equal number of excellent holes punctuated with two wonderful par 3s and the all-world 16th (whoever the architect!)  On balance, I don't think the course deserves a 1*, but subsequent plays could alter my opinion.  In any case, if its not too far a drive, Yelverton is well worth the effort and in the same sort of feel good class as Reddish Vale and Church Stretton.  Merely playing the 16th and taking in the views is more than fair compensation for £28 green fee.  If the opportunity arises, grab Yelverton with both hands.   2011

Ciao         
« Last Edit: December 03, 2021, 09:39:14 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2011, 05:11:34 AM »
Longhurst talks a little bit about Yelverton in My Life and Soft Times; it was the course on which he first played golf, during a family holiday in 1920. He and some cousins cut three holes of their own on the common, and, having enjoyed their own golfing experienced, progressed to the proper course before the end of the holiday.
Adam Lawrence

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Ulrich Mayring

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2011, 08:28:56 AM »
Too bad you had an overcast day, I got luckier when I played there. It really is a beautiful place:



Ulrich
Golf Course Exposé (300+ courses reviewed), Golf CV (how I keep track of 'em)

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2011, 12:28:10 PM »
Nice account, Sean. It's a wonderful spot and I love the course. I haven't played it for quite some years. Last time I was there I played Yelverton in the morning and Manor House Hotel in the afternoon (long before it was tarted up). It was almost as good as playing St Enodoc and Trevose on the same day earlier in the trip.

John Mayhugh

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2011, 12:37:56 PM »
Thanks for the photo tour, Sean.  Another one for the list whenever I make it to the southwest.

Some of those green sites look like they would be at home at Kington.  Seems Fowler used the land really well, and those "new" holes look great.

I took a look at the aerial, and the start is a bit like Walton Heath Old.  Long par 3, then cross a busy road for the rest of the course. 

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2011, 04:47:40 PM »
Nearly got a sneak look in March this year.  Loaded the mother in law into the car early and did a tour of Dartmoor on my way to a fine lunch at Gidleigh Park. When we hit Yelverton the wife read my mind and said no stopping or we'll be late for Lunch. Even Ulrich's photo can't encompass the wild desolate beauty of the place. Think Hound of the Baskerville's and you’re halfway there.

Another fine tour Sean, thank you. Your first photo of 16 is wrong I think, you’ve duplicated one nearer the green it would be good to see the one you intended.   I have to say that from the photo’s  a lot of those features near the greens look man made, like at Walton Heath? I would have thought there would be lots of micro undulations and small knobs but the course looks surprisingly ‘created’,  or do I need to look again?

I will be visiting the area annually and on my must play list  this has just moved above Teignmouth but perhaps not above Churston.  Look forward to seeing them all.
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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PPallotta

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2011, 05:05:12 PM »
Yes, thanks Sean.

Banal statement: I guess the quality of the land -- for golf, that is -- was of paramount importance back then.

Which is to say, I like the looks of Yelverton, but not nearly as much as those of 5 or 6 other courses you've profiled here before; the landscape at Yelverton is as pretty as those other ones, but not nearly as interesting, golfing-wise.  

I can't tell (and wouldn't really know anyway) if my man Fowler got the most out of the site; but, for example, while I like the bruttishness of #7, I can't help but wish that he had routed the hole against the slope instead of up the slope....Yelverton could've used another canted fairway.  

Peter
« Last Edit: June 06, 2011, 05:11:11 PM by PPallotta »

Sean_A

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2011, 07:06:37 PM »
Spangles

Thank you, I deleted the duplicated pic.  I don't have a pic from the tee as it is a blind drive.  The hole has a strange tale to it.  We (Burnham V Yelverton) were all square after losing the 15th.  I hit a fantastic drive down the 16th which can be made out in one of the pix just behind the 150 marker.  I requested relief and was given a resounding no.  Puzzled by the answer, I then attempted to remove the stone marker and nearly broke my back (yes, Tiger's boulder crew came to mind).  Being certain that I was entitled relief,  but not willing to argue the point, I hit.  Just as I predicted, the marker took the full brunt of an attempted hook 8 iron and I proceeded to retrace 40 yards or so back up the fairway mumbling uncertain and I am sure unkind words.  Needless to say we lost the hole to go 1 down.  

Pietro

I too wish Yelverton used slopes a bit more like Kington does.  The two courses have a lot in common actually, but Hutchison was far more daring in how he used slopes both for fairways and greens.  Of course, Fowler had the gullies and Leat to work with so perhaps he thought to leave well enough alone.  To be fair, there is more gravity golf than is apparent, but not to the degree I expected or hoped for.  I seem to recall you not being keen on alpinization and if this is the case Yelverton would certainly not be your taste.  No matter what we think of this sort of feature, Yelverton certainly fits the Fowler mould of no two courses looking alike - its astonishing.  I don't know if it means he was a genius, crank or something inbetween, but I can't think of another archie who did this.  

Tucky

Because Kington doesn't suffer with any real let down holes (essentially a very well designed course from a strategy PoV and no dopey holes is a rarity at this back end of the design world) it remains a solid notch above Yelverton, but I certainly can see a resemblance.  Its not just the mounding, but also a lot of the vegetation and most emphatically the turf.  

Mark

I would like to go back to the Manor House, but I fear the new changes would spoil my fond memories.

Ciao    
« Last Edit: February 11, 2015, 05:27:22 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2016, 03:34:22 PM »
I was doing some web searching for courses for possible future visits and on the home page of the Yelverton club website came across this rather nice drone video......it seems to highlight the nature of the course pretty well. I now have a better appreciation of why Sean writes nice things about the course. One for a future visit I reckon.


http://www.yelvertongolf.co.uk


Also, pretty close by is Tavistock GC. Another upland/moorland course with ponies and sheep and the like. It looks pretty interesting as well. Anyone played it?


Theses two courses combined would maybe make a nice trip.


http://www.tavistockgolfclub.co.uk


Atb
« Last Edit: January 08, 2016, 03:39:44 PM by Thomas Dai »

Marc Haring

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2016, 07:14:07 AM »
I've played Tavistock a few times Thomas and really enjoyed it. With the roaming mowers and not so much gorse as Yelverton you could basically smash it where you wanted and always find your ball and have at least a shot. Plenty of quirky features as well. 

David Kelly

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2016, 08:15:58 PM »
Went eagle-eagle for the first time in my life this past summer at Yelverton.  Holed a 60 degree wedge for my second shot at the 281yd Par 4 3rd hole and then drove the green and made about a 20' putt on the 314 yds Par 4 4th hole.


I knew about the Dartmoor ponies before playing there but I also encountered a lot of cattle on the course in addition to the horses.




"Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent." - Judge Holden, Blood Meridian.

Sean_A

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2016, 01:07:24 PM »
David


What did you think of Yelverton?


Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

David Kelly

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2016, 01:35:39 PM »
David
What did you think of Yelverton?
I greatly enjoyed it although as you touch on in your review it would have greatly benefited from more slopes and movement in the fairways. With noting much going on in the fairways the courses lends itself to a bombs away approach off the tee.  I thought the green sites were wonderful and quirky and really liked the various alps presentations. 
It was a course I originally thought I might pass on but I'm very glad that I played it and would definitely include it in another SW England itinerary. 
"Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent." - Judge Holden, Blood Meridian.

Sean_A

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2016, 08:30:48 PM »
David
What did you think of Yelverton?
I greatly enjoyed it although as you touch on in your review it would have greatly benefited from more slopes and movement in the fairways. With noting much going on in the fairways the courses lends itself to a bombs away approach off the tee.  I thought the green sites were wonderful and quirky and really liked the various alps presentations. 
It was a course I originally thought I might pass on but I'm very glad that I played it and would definitely include it in another SW England itinerary.


David


Hoping to return is high praise.  I too would like to go back, but I never seem to find the time as it is quite a distance from my two favoured West Country courses in Perranporth & St Enodoc.  I actually like Yelverton as much as I do Saunton East because of its unusual earthworks.   


Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2016, 05:38:34 PM »
This photo tour by Sean together with the course being (mostly) a Herbert Fowler layout inspired a recent visit to Yelverton, and I am very glad I did.


Terrific use and enhancement of yee olde earthworks and hazards, like the Leat. Cunning contouring, angles and semi-blind approaches. Gorse, lots and lots of gorse. Wide fairways, which I would suggest are pretty essential as the grass is cut tight and and in the main season with firm fairways the ball must bounce and roll forever, including sideways. The holes from the 10th onwards are known locally as 'Murder Mile'. Not surprised, they're challenging. Wonderful views over Dartmoor. Some road noise at times but not overly so. Only real downside the (not very well signposted) long walk back to the Clubhouse.


I have quite a few photos, particularly of the greens, which I shall post in due course.


My message is a simple one..........play this golf course!............it's terrific, as is the generous portion of ham, eggs and chips in the Clubhouse :)


Atb



« Last Edit: March 21, 2016, 02:01:20 PM by Thomas Dai »

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2016, 06:48:30 PM »
Thanks for bringing this thread back Thomas, I must have missed it first time. I love this sort of GCA style and it is a shame that no modern GCA that I have seen has used it recently.

Jon

Thomas Dai

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2016, 07:02:09 AM »
As mentioned above, here are some additional photographs to enhance those posted already. Not so much a hole-by-hole commentary as an outline of the terrain including views of holes and greens and hazards from different angles.


What you see if you look left from just ahead of the 2nd tee (flags are those on 13th and 18th greens)



From in front of the 420 yd 2nd green



Fallaway green at 280 yd par-4 3rd as photographed from the 4th tees



From the rear of the 430 yd par-4 7th green looking back towards the tee



From the tee of the 570 yd par-5 8th



From front-right of the green on the 280 yd par-4 9th



"Murder Mile", as the locals refer to it, starts here - 420 yds, 480 yds uphill, 180 yds, 450 yds uphill - a very challenging stretch of holes.


From the rear of the 420 yd par-4 10th looking back towards the tee with its double-diagonal crossing ditch



From the left side of the green at the wonderful 180 yd downhill par-3 12th. Terrific hole. Earthworks and hidden bunkers galore.



From 80 yds short of the 450 yd par-4 13th plus hidden bunker and then same green from the rear looking back towards the tee





An rather unusual feature - the small stone wall at the front of the 340 yd par-4 14th hole. The hole plays in from the left side of the photo



The start of a wonderful three hole closing stretch.


From the tee of the 420 yd par-4 16th. Aim, not surprisingly, at the marker post. The hole then turns to the right and plays over some splendid earthworks both in the fairway and around the green. The greenside earthworks contains some evil hidden bunkers.






From the rear of the 190 yd par-3 17th.



Photos from just short and from the rear of the 380 yd uphill par-4 18th. Not a hole to be take for granted!





Here is the course from a satmap. Zoom out to see where Yelverton is within the UK - https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@50.4737771,-4.0909779,2257m/data=!3m1!1e3


One last view of the 18th green with the 13th green in the background



Play this course! I doubt you'll be disappointed.


atb



Thomas Dai

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2016, 05:27:13 PM »
Just remembered that in my course update above I omitted to mention that some of the bunkers have been given the Durabunker/Ecobunker treatment. Not sure how long ago they were done but they seemed fine. Seemed a friendly club too and the Pro in particular couldn't have been more kind and helpful.


Atb
« Last Edit: March 24, 2016, 05:49:17 PM by Thomas Dai »

Sean_A

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2016, 02:32:10 PM »
Atb


Thanks for the extra pix!


Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

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Re: Doin' It In Devon: YELVERTON GC
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2016, 03:18:10 PM »
Sean,

The thanks are all mine........if it hadn't been for your original photo tour my friends and I would probably not have played Yelverton, which is why a great strength of this GCA website is the photo tours and related threads. Spreading the word and all that.

Yelverton and nearby Tavistock, a supposedly similarish upland course with gorse and heather and wildlife and the like which folk have mentioned is also pretty nice, apparently hold an annual combined foursomes open comp. Shame it isn't fourball betterball.

Atb

PS - I think you might like Dawlish Warren - http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,62750.0.html - less than £20 on a County Card, as indeed was Yelverton.

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