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Thomas Dai

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Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« on: March 24, 2016, 11:17:07 AM »
Warren GC at Dawlish is a bit of a throwback, but in a nice way.

An 18-hole links course but not very long on the card. Pretty flat and played on a spit of sand jutting out into an estuary.

Hidden bunkers, rabbit holes and small ponds. Lots of gorse and splendid views. The kind of course that if it were in some remote part of Ireland or Scotland GCA fans would probably drool over.

But it's not in rural Ireland or Scotland it's in Devon in southern England and here's the view from a satmap -,-3.4356942,2182m/data=!3m1!1e3

To get to the course you drive through a narrow bridge under the main railway line. You are then confronted by a couple of hundred yards of what I shall term seaside holiday architecture, candyfloss and all before a track takes you to the clubhouse.

This is not a full photo tour merely an overview to give you a flavour of what's at WGC.

From the 1st tee towards the 1st green (to the right), a just under 300 yd par-4. The 1st shares a fairway with the 18th......but more of that later :) :)

Sunken green at the 190 yd par-3 3rd

Looking across the course from the 4th fairway up the estuary of the River Ex.

One of three bunkers surrounding the green at the 170 yd par-3 5th hole.

Towards the green 350 yd par-4 6th hole. The town of Exmouth, on the other side of the estuary/River Ex, is in the distance.

The 330 yd cape of the 7th hole. Not just the beach to ponder, there's also a cross ditch just short of the green to give the bombers something to think about.

The 190 par-3 8th hole. Nice par-3.

From the tee on the 150 yd par-3 13th with the River Ex and estuary behind

Hidden ponds are a feature of some of the latter holes. Small and unseen and there's no course planner.
This one's by the green of the 300 yd par-4 14th.
Some of the latter holes require tee shots from the defensive wall and across the edge of the estuary - at right in photo - to fairways moving to the right. Tricky little holes like here at the 15th. Tempting but.......

And now.......the 18th! :)

400yds from the back tees with a fairway shared with the 1st hole

Hit a decent tee shot and you might be around this area, right outside the netting protected clubhouse. Go left or right and it's OB.

And here are two photos of the green. Tucked in between the entrance drive and railway line! Left and long are both OB. :)

Well that's a flavour of Warren GC at Dawlish. Great fun if you like quirk and more yee olde style of golf than you find at most links courses these days.

:) :)


Jon Wiggett

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Re: Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2016, 03:43:21 PM »

nice tour of a course I have heard about but never seen. I have had the last described to me in the past but had dismissed much of the description as being OTT. Having seen it on your photos I am a little lost as to what to think about it. How was it to play?



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Re: Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2016, 04:14:32 PM »
Love the picture of the last hole.
Nice to see something unique that fits in perfectly with its surroundings with some very interesting outcomes on the final hole.

and bonus points for not being a bite off as much as you can dogleg left with railroad ties(because somehow that's natural)
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey


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Re: Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2016, 05:07:29 PM »
Thomas D. -

Thanks for the post. Looks like quite a place.

Any idea how vulnerable the course has been to high tides, flooding, coastal erosion, etc.?


Thomas Dai

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Re: Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2016, 05:11:15 PM »
Jon and Jeff,

The 18th is certainly, um, a little different to the normal finishing hole!

Actually the whole course is a little different to what most links courses have become. As I mentioned above, it's a bit of a throwback, in the nicest and most complimentary way, to an era gone by when links courses were more natural rather than over-maintained. Lovely sense of peace and tranquility, especially when playing holes 2-17, which is very nice.

As to the 18th, the further you hit the tee shot, and it's 400 yds from the very back tee, and the back tee is located on an island reached by a bridge out into the marsh (!), the narrower the fairway becomes. There is OB left (a sandy track and the overspill carpark). There is also OB right with the greenkeepers sheds, putting green and clubhouse, all mostly fronted by netting wire.

The fairway area has quite a number of rabbit holes dug into it so a disappearing ball is a possibility on both the 18th and 1st holes!

The optimum position from the tee is probably in the middle of the 1st fairway and about 120-150 from the 18th green. The entrance road also present a slight issue as a second shot played conservatively to the left can land on it and bounce uncontrollably, which brings the additional OB near the 1st tee into play. A shot could also roll along the road out of the entrance gates!

The green is sunken and narrow and there are two small pot bunkers just short of it up against the railway line wall. The green also has quite a bit of contour.

One of my playing partners came up with a novel way of playing the hole. Shortish tee shot down down the middle. A scuffed second shot was then followed by a thin pitch that rebounded off the netting above the greenside wall guarding the railway line onto the green. A curling 25 ft putt on a heavily top-dressed green was then holed for a par-4!

From your previous posts I have an inkling of the kind of courses you both have a fondness for and I reckon this would be up your streets. Great fun. Worth a visit for architecture enthusiasts and those who enjoy quirk.

For more details - and the club has existed since the 1890's - and more photos see -

« Last Edit: March 24, 2016, 05:52:16 PM by Thomas Dai »

Thomas Dai

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Re: Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2016, 05:22:58 PM »

The clubs history does mention storm damage in 1946 and the disappearance of a village of wooden huts, presumably holiday type buildings as well as reference to wartime factors. The spit, particularly the northern end and its curved hook certainly look vulnerable should a big storm arise, especially should such coincide with a high tide. I'm sure the course has seen a few more incidents over the years but it's still going strong although the natural water table must be quite high.

The course played nice and firm during my visit except for some dampish areas near the wee ponds on the back-9. I would imagine that in the summer the whole course would be very brown, fast and fiery, as the above posted aerial photograph kind of indicates.


« Last Edit: March 24, 2016, 05:53:56 PM by Thomas Dai »


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Re: Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2016, 02:37:35 AM »
Thanks for the memories atb.  When were you there, as I saw it from the traain only last Sunday and thought it was looking unusally green ;D ?
If I am honest there are a few meh holes and it is very short but...I loved it.  I played it about 5 years ago at Easter and it was as firm and fast as any I've experienced.  I  went through the back of a 330 yard hole with a little wind assistance, playing 8i and then 9i and I'm a pretty average hitter.  When its that fiery the gorse becomes an issue. Several holes had angled drives and never having played before they were a challenge. I recall a par five where you teed off aiming straight at a dyke running the full length of the far side of the fairway!  This has to be one of the few links courses with no irrigation (other than greens?).
Yes its a defintie throwback.  The lack of a course planner added to the experience. I realise I'm a dumb golfer so I wasn't at all surprised to discover that I had aimed for the 17th green off the first tee.
The 18th is a cracker.
Somehow this course slipped under the radar and isn't in the True Links book. Shame.
I love this kind of a course and look forward to returning, but I wouldn't want people traveling miles and miles to see it. Personally I'd give it a 5 but I'm sure Doak would have given it 1 or 2 points less.
Let's make GCA grate again!

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2016, 03:49:07 AM »
Just looked at the GFs and at 30(weekday) to 35 (weekend) for a days golf for a links course in the south it seems pretty good value.


Marc Haring

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Re: Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2016, 04:41:41 AM »
I played it a few of times back in the day but my first memory of it would have been in the 1960"s travelling to Devon on the train to stay with grand parents and I remember on top of one of the sheds they had stencilled in large letters "REAL SEASIDE TURF". I guess it was quite a selling point in those days.

James Boon

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Re: Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2016, 09:56:21 AM »

Thanks for the pictures of Dawlish Warren. I have friends in Dawlish and have played it once quite a few years ago. Very enjoyable way to spend a midweek evening with noone on the course, but suspect a busy medal at the weekends could be... entertaining? I played it in a very dry period, but also very windy. My memory may be playing tricks on me but heading out was all monster drives and flicks to the green, but the 9th and 10th back into the wind required a drive, 3 wood and probably another 3 wood to get home  :o

Looking at the aerial photos (the one you posted plus Google) a lot of the marsh side holes look different in character and texture. Probably slightly different underfoot on that side, but also possibly evidence of a shorter course, extended to 18 at some point? Any ideas of the history of the club? I remember when I played thinking that it was a little too crowded for a decent 18 but would make a great 9 or 12 hole golf course if only convention wasnt so obsessed with 18...  ::)

By the way, did you get to play Teignmouth GC on the hill above Dawlish? A fun MacKenzie course in a heathland / moorland setting?

Tony, I too was surprised this wasnt in the True Links book?


« Last Edit: March 26, 2016, 11:05:56 AM by James Boon »
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Thomas Dai

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Re: Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2016, 11:51:50 AM »

I can certainly imagine the course being 'entertaining' on a full medal day even more so if windy and bouncy. Great fun though.

I didn't spot anything in the clubhouse mentioning an earlier shorter version of the course but there could well have been. There's a minor height difference between the central and marsh sides of the spit with the marsh side being lower by a few feet hence the holes going out and those in the middle of the round play firmer and faster than the last few which are softer.

We did consider playing Teignmouth, which I had played decades ago, but Teignmouth were holding an event of some kind so we went to Yelverton instead....and Yelverton was terrific (see my photo undates on the Yelverton thread).


Thomas Dai

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Re: Warren (Dawlish) GC - with pix
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2016, 12:19:46 PM »
Although I posted this brief summary I have no affiliation with the club. However, I was saddened recently to hear that they are experiencing considerable financial troubles.

Whilst the course may not be a Doak 10 is does have architectural merit and is a terrific example of how links golf used to be in days gone by, which for many in the current times of manicured golf is not something easily experienced.

If you have the opportunity to visit the area play Dawlish Warren if you can. Not only will you experience something a little different to the norm and most likely walk off with a smile on your face but from what I hear they could do with the money!



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