Parts Of England's Oldest Golf Course Washed Away Into The Sea

Royal North Devon has lost around 50 yards of land from sea erosion

Parts Of England's Oldest Golf Course Washed Away Into The Sea
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Royal North Devon Golf Club has lost a significant amount of the land after recent storms and flooding

Parts Of England's Oldest Golf Course Washed Away Into The Sea

England's oldest golf course, Royal North Devon in Westward Ho!, has lost part of its land due to coastal erosion from the recent Storm Eleanor.

The 154-year-old links course is one of England's finest and ranks 74th in Golf Monthly's most recent UK&I Top 100 Courses list.

The storm took 50 yards of land from the golf course, washing away ground from behind the par-3 8th tee box.

The tee marker was also washed onto the beach.

Royal North Devon ND IMG_8884

General manager Mark Evans told the BBC that there may still be more damage to come as, worryingly, high tides are forecast as soon as next week.

"We could lose the [seventh] green in early February with the high tides predicted with the wrong wind conditions," he said.

The seventh green now lies just over 15 yards away from the shoreline, and Natural England, who control the land, do not seem to be doing much about it.

Related: 10 best links courses in the UK

Natural England have released a statement, saying: "The dunes and shingle ridge are naturally dynamic coastal features and subject to constant change."

Evans told the Telegraph: “By allowing this collapse we are tampering with history.

“There’s no plan at the moment - it’s a disgrace.”

Evans also said Natural England and local councillors are "burying their heads in the sand."

Related: 20 golf courses to play in 2018

However, Torridge District Council have said they and Devon County Council are "working well" on the issue.

If the golf course was to be fully protected, including a nearby landfill site that is also at risk of being washed away, an expensive "rock armour" would have to be installed.

Evans said, "They've got to look at the bigger picture.

"Yes they might be saving England's oldest golf course but they're saving an environmental disaster that's waiting to happen."

Natural England have told Royal North Devon that they can build two new putting surfaces providing the club relinquishes the two existing greens threatened by further erosion within three years.

Evans says that would make the course "not anything like as interesting."

Founded in 1864, the course was designed by the famed Old Tom Morris.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV