Sergio Garcia won the British Boys Championship on this course in 1997 and the great Harry Vardon once stated: “I would like to retire to Saunton and do nothing but play golf for pleasure.” Those two events are probably separated by nearly a hundred years, but what has stood the test of time is Saunton’s East course. The venue has held many of the country’s prestige amateur competitions and will again be hosting the English Amateur Championship in 2014.
As I climb up onto the first tee and look down on the starting hut and out to the 478 yards of what is one tough opening hole that lies some 30ft below, I am thanking the golfing gods that it’s just a breeze and not a 20mph wind blowing across the dunes. A solid drive down the middle and I am off, and as the pro’s tip states in the course planner: ‘a 5 will win the opening hole more times than not – keep this in mind’. I do as I duly hole out for a five, but what I do notice is how hard and fast the greens are. Like St Enodoc yesterday the greens here are in great condition.
Like the West course there are some great views to behold, but the one niggling factor is the lack of a sea view. You know it’s there, you can feel that nice cooling breeze, that waft of fresh sea air and the tinge of salt on your lips, but the dunes here are high and you never quite get used to its lurking unseen presence. I have a theory about human beings and the sea and I duly get my fix on the drive back to the hotel.