Thurlestone Golf Club Course Review

Thurlestone Golf Club on the South Devon coast is British clifftop golf at its finest, with a great stretch of holes along the cliff edge

Thurlestone Golf Club - aerial view
An aerial view of the opening six holes at Thurlestone
(Image credit: Thurlestone Golf Club)

Thurlestone Golf Club Course Review

GF Round: £30-£60; Day £70-£80
Par 71, 6,179 yards
Slope 130
GM Verdict – South Devon clifftop beauty with an excellent outward stretch along the cliffs and four par 5s over the final seven holes.
Favourite Hole – The par-3 6th is the pick of the early par 3s, not long at just 145 yards but with a ring of eight bunkers placing a premium on accuracy.

Thurlestone Golf Club - 17th green

Looking out to sea across the 17th green

(Image credit: Jeremy Ellwood)

If ever a verbal endorsement were worth taking maximum advantage of, then being mentioned in the same breath as one of America’s, and indeed, the world’s most revered courses would surely be it!  Thurlestone, laid out over the relatively low clifftops between South Milton and Bantham beaches in South Devon, was once likened to Pebble Beach by Peter Alliss. While the views may, at times, rival those of its Californian counterpart, especially at the far end where you gaze across to Burgh Island and its famous Art Deco hotel, the green fee at this splendid Harry Colt creation is mercifully a mere 10% of Pebble’s even before the latter’s compulsory cart, caddie and forecaddie fees.

Thurlestone Golf Club - 11th green

The view across to Burgh Island from the 11th green at the far end of the course

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

It was Colt who extended the original nine-hole layout to a full 18, and this really is British clifftop golf at its finest. The views alone warrant Thurlestone's inclusion in any list of the best golf courses in Devon, with outstanding views out to sea almost throughout, although the cliffs are at their closest and most in play over the opening stretch. Indeed, if ever there were a playing configuration of contrasting halves, Thurlestone takes some beating, with the front nine playing to a par of 33, while the journey home serves up four par 5s over the final seven hole in its total of 38.

Thurlestone Golf Club - 1st hole

The 1st is a short par 4 with a well-protected, raised green

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

The start is a little fiddly as you play back past the clubhouse and over the beach track on the potentially drivable opener, but the green is raised and well-protected and the car park isn’t a million miles away on the left if you tend to turn things over too much when really going for it! You then mostly work your way along the cliffs for much of the next ten holes, with the odd deviation here and there, before heading just a little further inland for the final seven and all those par 5s.

Thurlestone Golf Club - 3rd hole

There are three par 3s in the opening six including the 3rd right by the cliffs

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Some of the early par 3s really stand out, especially the back-to-back 5th and 6th – the former a testing long affair to a green just above the beach, where you may be reaching for a fairway wood, and the latter a much shorter number where the green is completely encircled by no fewer than eight bunkers of varying size.

Thurlestone Golf Club - 7th hole

You don't want to be missing it left on the 7th

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

When you reach the farthest point at the 11th green, take a moment to gaze out over Burgh Island and its famous hotel, and make a note to head out there yourself for a pint in the Pilchard Inn before your trip is over, either on foot at low tide or on board the vintage, and quite extraordinary, sea tractor if the tide has defeated you.


Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response