Set in the heart of Dartmoor National Park “Bovey” was originally designed in 1926 by J F Abercromby, of Worplesdon, The Addington and Coombe Hill fame, but after a period of neglect it was re-vamped by Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie and reopened for play in 2004.
The par 70 (SSS 71) layout has a very intimate feel for the majority of the front nine before gradually climbing on to higher ground with just a hint of moorland flavour to it. The first eight holes are truly lovely and whilst from this point on the course undoubtedly fizzles out there are still plenty of good holes during the remainder of the round. In fact only the short ninth is an uncharacteristic blip during the first two-thirds of the course and bar a few awkward shots towards the end of the round there is very little to dislike.
Errant approach shots at the first three holes could easily lead to a watery grave as a brook wanders through the valley which the holes are played through, as it does on most of the holes on the superior front nine. The greens tie into their surrounds nicely and everything is set out clearly in front of you. There are some interesting recovery shots too should you miss the modestly sized greens.
The 10th and 11th holes work very well in tandem; a reachable par-five followed by a mighty par-four, both contain a bit of a ‘do-or-die’ element to them. Most of the holes run in roughly an East-to-West or West-to-East direction and depending upon where the wind is blowing from you could almost swap the pars at these two holes.
The 13th and 14th – both two-shotters of around the 300-yard mark - are also a couple of holes that slot together nicely, despite the entrance road dissecting them, and at the very least could help get your score back on track. Holes 15, 16 and 17 are largely forgettable but the demanding 18th features a wonderful green site with a putting surface that falls from front-to-rear.
Whilst the experience on the course doesn’t quite match the 5-star one off it, this is still one of the best courses in the area, benefits from a magical location, and I imagine would make for an excellent golf break where you can mix the good life away from the course with some pretty darn stuff on it.
Thankfully my wife doesn’t play golf but if she did I think Bovey Castle is somewhere I’d bring her for an idyllic golfing retreat.
The game of golf has the ability to take you on amazing journeys to the most wondrous places where you meet such interesting people.
It was an impulsive, crazy… and some would say utterly ridiculous… decision that took me to The Machrie in the Spring of 2018.