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Sean_A

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2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE New
« on: October 24, 2018, 06:10:43 AM »
Saunton’s West Course has a chequered past in that Fowler's design was only brought back to life in 1975 after laying fallow for 30 plus years. Like its elder sister, the East, the West course was used for WWII tank training in preparation for the D-Day landings at Normandy. Indeed, there was a two day event on Saunton Beach (Devon D-Day) to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Overlord, the code name of the Battle of Normandy.  This event is scheduled for next 1 & 2 June. 

Unlike the East, Fowler’s West Course was radically redesigned by Frank Pennink.  The West is often seen as Saunton’s second course, but there is a strong contingent of well-travelled golfers who prefer it over the East. Indeed, while shorter than the East, many believe the West is more exacting in nature because it plays more through the dunes and features many troublesome ditches.  In truth, the entire Saunton property is littered with ditches which on occasion are used to great effect. 

The opening two holes are quite good without length being used as a trump card - very different from The East. 




Legging right, the second plays fairly level and once again, there are lay-up options. If in the fairway, the approach is straight-forward.


All hell breaks loose on the third.  The hole appears wide open, but appearances can be deceptive.  There is a ditch cutting in from the left then turning up the fairway.  If one wants to cut this corner he needs to carry the ditch twice!   However, the best angle and view is from the near the bunkers.  The long, uphill second plays through a cut in the dunes to a modest plateau green. Only a terrific shot will reach the green of this short par 5.  In fact, only a terrific shot will find the miniscule lay up area.   In many ways, this hole is emblematic of the West, a tricky hole which takes a few plays to gain a reasonable understanding of the risks and rewards.




The difficulty continues on the 4th, a longish short hole with its green in the lee of the right dune.


The tee shot on #5 is disorienting as there is much more room left than it appears. All the greenside trouble is up front, making the best misses long or short.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 28, 2018, 09:27:43 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

John Mayhugh

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Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE 1-5
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2018, 01:04:26 PM »
Thanks for doing this tour. I didn't get a chance to see the West my one time there (when I bumped into you!).

The East certainly can play long. Seems like some contrast between the courses is a good thing as long as there is plenty of interest in both. Hard for me to think of Pennink improving on what Fowler would have built, though.
The angle of the first green & its tiers looks like a tough approach.

Thomas Dai

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Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE 1-5
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2018, 02:47:44 PM »
“Tricky”. A good description of the 3rd hole, and as Sean says, pretty emblematic of the West Course as a whole.
Atb

Sean_A

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Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE 1-5 New
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2018, 03:46:03 AM »
Thanks for doing this tour. I didn't get a chance to see the West my one time there (when I bumped into you!).

The East certainly can play long. Seems like some contrast between the courses is a good thing as long as there is plenty of interest in both. Hard for me to think of Pennink improving on what Fowler would have built, though.
The angle of the first green & its tiers looks like a tough approach.

Tucky

I am not sure Peninnk had much choice...the West as it came to be known...basically didn't exist anymore.  And yes, the East can play long because much of it is over heavy turf with less rollout than might be expected for a links.  Plus, practically all the greens are very modern in that they are elevated or on plateaux.  I do think the West is different in that it is a more daring design more through the dunes and the use of water is more effective. 

SAUNTON WEST CONT

An audacious hole, the 6th kinks after the drive then plays between a diagonal ditch which near runs up to the green.  Generally, the ditches are over-played (probably out of necessity), but in this case the mark was hit.


The influence of the ditch is quite obvious from this angle.


Yet another hole featuring a prominent ditch.  The club misses a trick by not creating fairway on both sides of the water.  Being right is no treat with a blind approach over hairy stuff to a raised green.  As it is, one must go hunting for the fairway, which is no bad thing.  Yes, another imaginative hole!


A fairly standard hole, all the trouble for the 8th is at the front of the green.  The angle of play for this hole reminds me a bit too much of the 5th.


Moving to more marshy terrain, the short 9th is not in the least links-like.  A sharp legging right par 5, the best aspect of the 10th is the drive.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 25, 2019, 04:48:13 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE 1-10
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2018, 07:50:06 AM »
Sean,My prior post was poorly worded. I realize that restoring the West post-war wouldn't have been possible. Just commenting that what was lost was likely better than what is there now. Pointless speculation.

Use of the ditch on the 6th hole does look quite good.

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE 1-10
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2018, 01:50:15 PM »
Ref the West course, par-4 7th, I'd also be keen to see some fairway to the right of the ditch that needs to be crossed off the tee.
As to the WWII effect, in the Clubhouse there is a A3 size book showing in great detail the changes to the East course which contains overheads and aerial photos of the the whole area used during WWII. All sorts of training areas were included such as flame thrower ranges, hedgehog areas etc. Indeed the area used seems to have covered the whole of Saunton Burrows not just the area now occupied by the East and West courses. If you're in the Clubhouse enquire after the book, which is by MacKenzie and Ebert, as it contains quite a bit of information about Saunton generally including all the alterations that have happened on the East course over the decades plus details about Herbert Fowler, club/course timelines etc.

atb
« Last Edit: October 25, 2018, 01:51:48 PM by Thomas Dai »

Sean_A

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Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE 1-10 New
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2018, 04:43:52 AM »
SAUNTON WEST CONT

The short holes on the West aren't of nearly the same quality as the East.  The 11th is evidence of this; not an easy hole, but not terribly interesting either.  The double dogleg 12th is a completely different matter.  To have a good chance to reach the green and see the target, the right bunkers must be carried.  Water abounds down the left and across the fairway. 




The course heads back into the dunes for 13-15.  All are individually good holes, but they all leg left and play to greens sitting on higher ground.  The 13th may be the best of the three because the terrain is more compelling.






Because of its 422 yards, the 14th is the toughest of the trio.




The shortest hole of this stretch is best possibly the most attractive because of the lone tree.


Rather than being narrow, the green is wide with a few awkward hole locations such as far right and on the back shelf. 


As seen from near the 16th tee.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 06, 2018, 07:43:09 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

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE 1-15
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2018, 07:37:49 AM »
Strong stretch of holes from 10-14 with 10-13 normally playing into the wind. A stretch where shots are probably more likely to be dropped than picked-up. The 12th, with its left side and then diagonally crossing ditch, is a fine par-5.
Atb

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE 1-15
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2018, 09:43:11 AM »
Sean

Many thanks for the tour. Out of the two courses I think I probably preferred this one even though I thought the greens on the other course were better. That said your tour has reminded me that a lot of the pin positions were typical "winter" locations stuck round the edges so perhaps unfair to judge the greens in the circumstances.

Niall

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE 1-15 New
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2018, 06:26:41 AM »
Niall

Whenever I break it down the East always comes out on top. It is close run thing, but essentially the East's remarkable run of 8-11 wins the day. Plus, when digging into it more deeply, meaning over many plays, the difference in green quality begins to tell. 

SAUNTON WEST CONT

The three hole finish is surprisingly without a two-shotter.  Two longish, but downhill par 3s bookend the three shotter 17th.  All three are good, without being outstanding holes.   

16th


I would probably think more of the 17th if not for the over-played ditch card.  I understand the ditches are necessary, but they do grow tiresome.   


I think the best of the final holes, 18 can often require a driver to get home. 


It was most enjoyable to see the West in pleasant conditions as the last time out the course was foggier than London in the 50s.  I find it surprising the West is rarely mentioned among the best modern courses of GB&I because it stands up well with many more modern designs such as Dundonald, Carnegie and Castle Course.  Perhaps it is the lack of flair which holds it back for the course doesn't rely on pretty bunkers or flashy shaping.  The West is no frills straight-forward golf which plays surprisingly difficult.  Many will play the West because the East is next door.  While the two courses share similar terrain, the West is generally more adventurous as many of the holes run through the dunes, but they never elicit a sense of restriction or isolation.  Instead, the golfer is teased from flat terrain into more rumbling stuff with a grace that belies its 1970s origins.  As such, the West compliments the East very well and should not be missed.  2018

Previous Stops:

Aberdovey
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,43564.0.html

Westward Ho!
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,66480.0.html

Planned Stops

Saunton East
Barton on Sea
Isle of Purbeck

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 06, 2018, 07:42:18 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

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2018, 07:44:40 AM »
I very much agree that the West course at Saunton shouldn't be missed. It's a sneaky course. One where you expect a good score to fall into your lap but it somehow doesn't.
Expectations maybe, as it's card length is pretty misleading. There are 5 par-3's and 3 of them are of the long and pretty easily messed-up variety. Plus the 2 par-5's while not that long on the card both play against the prevailing wind, which tends to make matters more difficult. From the tee it's quite tight as well with the correct driving lines not immediately apparent.
The 2nd is an awkward hole and the stretches from the 3rd-7th and, well really the whole of the back-9, are very fine.
Whenever I've made a trip to Saunton and played both courses I've always scored worse relative to hcp on the West and yet the West is the course that should suit my personal game better. But somehow this is never reflected in the score. An extremely frustrating situation.
Damn fine course.
If you have the time after playing turn left out of the golf club carpark towards Croyde and if there is space stop in one of the roadside parking bays overlooking the sea and Saunton Burrows. Not just a spectacular view but a spot to appreciate just how extensive the dune system is at Saunton.
atb



Brock Lynch

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: SAUNTON GC WEST COURSE
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2018, 08:30:43 PM »
I very much agree that the West course at Saunton shouldn't be missed. It's a sneaky course. One where you expect a good score to fall into your lap but it somehow doesn't.
Expectations maybe, as it's card length is pretty misleading. There are 5 par-3's and 3 of them are of the long and pretty easily messed-up variety. Plus the 2 par-5's while not that long on the card both play against the prevailing wind, which tends to make matters more difficult. From the tee it's quite tight as well with the correct driving lines not immediately apparent.
The 2nd is an awkward hole and the stretches from the 3rd-7th and, well really the whole of the back-9, are very fine.
Whenever I've made a trip to Saunton and played both courses I've always scored worse relative to hcp on the West and yet the West is the course that should suit my personal game better. But somehow this is never reflected in the score. An extremely frustrating situation.
Damn fine course.
If you have the time after playing turn left out of the golf club carpark towards Croyde and if there is space stop in one of the roadside parking bays overlooking the sea and Saunton Burrows. Not just a spectacular view but a spot to appreciate just how extensive the dune system is at Saunton.
atb





Great Pics! I visited Saunton in 2010 and played the East twice and the West once. I also found the West somewhat frustrating. Scored better on the East both rounds than on the West. Can't wait to get back soon. That was a great trip that also included Burnham & Berrow (1st two rounds ever in England was incredible), Westward Ho (great clubhouse), St. Enodoc (great!). Then went over to Wales and played Pennard (another great links), Tenby (fun), Ashburnham, Southerndown (tough), & Royal Porthcawl (Tough, if only the rest of the course matched those first few holes). You'd be hard pressed to find a higher quality set of courses for the price!


Also, thinking of Saunton... there can't be too many pairs of courses that match those two on one site?


Cheers

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