With a big blue sky overhead, record April temperatures, a mere zephyr in the air, all the colours of the rainbow on display across the textured property and with views across Devon and Cornwall, which are just about as good as any from a golf course, it’s no wonder I’m about to write nice things about this ye-olde-worlde golf club.
There’s a lovely ambience around the sleepy clubhouse and pro-shop whilst the location on the fringe of Dartmoor is peacefully remote. The course itself, designed by Herbert Fowler, traverses common land and has a very natural feel to it with cattle and Dartmoor Ponies sharing the playing area with golfers. Everyone appears to get along harmoniously.
Tight moorland-cum-heathland turf greets us at every turn with gorse patches lining many of the generous fairways. You can swing away quite freely from the tee, not having to worry too much about any trouble ahead and also enjoy decent run-out on your golf ball.
Approaches into the greens are testing without being overly taxing with angled ridges, humps and gullies used to provide natural hazards. At times - most notably at the excellent 13th and 18th - a deeper ravine must be crossed but generally you have options when playing into the greens because the entrances are wide and accepting of a running shot.
The actual contours of the putting surfaces are very impressive too with enough movement to keep you interested but without being at odds with the rest of the course. Bunkering is light but appropriately placed whilst several heather topped mounds add an extra layer of defence to a course that has a SSS of 72 for its par of 71 - I imagine the wind is a major factor in play here since the course is located several hundred feet above sea level. It should also be noted it is a par 70 from the yellow tees.
The condition of the greens was immaculate in mid-April and as corny as it sounds; a real joy to putt on.
At a modest 6,302-yards from the white tees two of the three par fives are reachable (both well under the 500 yard mark) whilst the other is a whopping 568 yards (at one time the longest hole in Devon) plus you are potentially restricted from the tee here because Devenport Leat (a narrow waterway which runs throughout many holes) cuts across the fairway at around 250 yards.
The opening hole is a par-three and is played on the opposite side of the fast Tavistock-Plymouth road to the remainder of the course. It’s a straightway affair but at over 200-yards it’s a long walk to the second tee if you’ve registered a bogey or worse. The other short holes are all very good and in the case of the 12th and 17th excellent. The sixth is not much more than a flick over broken ground but the 12th is a real gem and the 17th – where you must work your ball in from right-to-left off the leat – is part of an exciting and exceptional finish to the course.
To be over critical there is a bit of sameness to some of the drives throughout the round although there are a few holes around the 300-yard mark which do give you options from the tee and towards the end of the round we find more variety. In the case of the 14th we are faced with an unusually narrow drive where a draw is favoured whilst at the 16th – the best hole on the property - we are asked to work the ball the other way before playing a wonderful approach to a slightly depressed green.
Yelverton is rightly proud of its inclusion in the list of the top 20 golf courses in the South-West of England. It currently ranks 16th and considering the stiff competition (I’ve played all 15 above it) this is a very good achievement. I’d even suggest that it could be a place or two higher and I don’t think anybody would bat an eyelid.
Yelverton may have been off the radar for too long but it is gradually getting more noticed and that is a very good thing.
Copt Heath is a very fine parkland golf course that requires precision, plotting and a deft touch around the slick greens.
The Blue is a mix of American-style design and traditional English parkland. It's an unusual combination which makes the most of the terrain available. It was designed by Simon Gidman and opened in 1994.