Saunton Golf Club East Course Review

Designed by Herbert Fowler in the 1920s, Saunton East is a challenging links that has played host to a number of significant championships

The thirteenth hole on Saunton's excellent East Course
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Designed by Herbert Fowler in the 1920s, Saunton East is a challenging links that has played host to a number of significant championships

Saunton Golf Club East Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 49 Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 45 2017/18 - 41 2015/16 - 35 2013/14 - 39 2011/12 - 36 2009/10 - 30

Summer Green Fees

Round - £110, Day - £150wd

Visitors: welcome every day after 10:00 by prior arrangement

Medal Tee: Par 71 - 6,444 Yards (opens in new tab)

Changes since previous ranking

Improvements to the appearance and conditioning of a number of ditches and bunkers.

Saunton Golf Club East Course Review

The East Course at Saunton is the more challenging of two wonderful links at the club that complement one another perfectly. Set in the peaceful North Devon dunes, it was designed by Herbert Fowler and is a wonderful place to play.

Looking back up the opening hole

Golf was first enjoyed over this rugged linksland just south of Croyde over 120 years ago. Originally 9 holes and then 12, Fowler was invited to redesign the course following World War One.

It has long attracted major amateur events, and some people have even suggested it could even be a worthy Open Championship venue if it were not for access and logistics issues.

The course opens with a terrific par 4 played from an elevated tee. Just about maximum length and usually into the wind, a par here is very much one up on the card.

The green on the par-5 second

As you continue, there is nothing unfair or contrived. Instead you have hole after hole of testing golf where the premium is on accuracy. Occasionally it calls for strength, but in general this is a very fair test of golf that has rightly won the respect and admiration of many good players.

Short But Sweet

Even the shorter holes have their challenges. Tiddler, the very appropriately-named 5th, is a perfect example. At just 122 yards from the back tee, the important thing here is not to go long. Do so, and you will really have your work cut out to get back close to the pin and salvage par.

Don't be too bold at the short fifth

The same is true at the 10th, Plateau, a seemingly innocuous par-4. Once again there is a raised green, and there is also real trouble presented by two bunkers that sit at the base of the slope in front.

The short par-4 tenth is played to a raised green

The long par-4 14th is also a real tester whose name sums it up perfectly, Narrows! Straight is very much the order of the day here. The dogleg left to right closing hole is a fittingly strong par 4 leading you back to a green surrounded by five bunkers under the watchful gaze of all those out on the delightful patio.

The fifteenth hole

If you can score well over the course at Saunton East, you can probably play just about anywhere.

The closing hole with the welcoming clubhouse beyond

Assessor Feedback

One of the nicest starts in links golf with a tricky finish. A challenging course especially off the tee. Approach shots play a little longer due to small changes in elevation and swirling winds.

GM Verdict

A gloriously tranquil but testing links nestled between the Devon hills and some towering dunes

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,170 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during the year, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. During the 2021-22 review period, Rob has played 34 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at