The British Isles' "sunny" golf trip destination: Southwest England
I sense beads of sweat dripping from my forehead. My mouth is mysteriously parched. I raise the left sleeve of my polo and notice - a tan line?
Did my plane accidentally drop me off in Portugal or am I really in the British Isles?
Believe it or not, it's the middle of May and I'm in southwest England, which holds a reputation for the Isles' balmiest and sunniest climate. There's even a saying around here that when pilots are flying over an overcast England, the clouds always seem to break up around this sliver of the isle.
I'm a believer. It's my fourth trip now to the British Isles and I'm in shorts for the first time, walking Trevose Golf Club and wishing I stocked a water bottle in my bag. You usually don't have to worry about this kind of thing when on links further north.
England's most popular tour is the links of the Northwest, thanks to the three Open Championship venues there. But for a sunnier, more cost-effective tour full of links worthy of your golf travel buck, England's Southwest is no underdog. Saunton Golf Club's East Course serves as the most tournament-ready links of the bunch, and Nick Faldo has even suggested it would be Open-ready if it were located further north.
Other golf courses nearby are charming in their own way. A not-so-distant second to Saunton in championship pedigree is Burnham & Berrow Golf Club.
But the strength of this nook of England is its variety.
There's nearby Royal North Devon in Westward Ho!. It's England's oldest links, dating back to 1864, where you navigate around wandering sheep and a hope you don't disturb the herd of horses staring at you off the 15th fairway.
But the real gem of the group is St. Enodoc's Church Course, where you never know what you're going to see next, offers a collection of holes as undeniably unique and enchanting as you'll find in the isles. And on a clear, sunny day you can see out over the Camel Estuary, the famous fishing village of Padstow.
From here, you're also just minutes from several beaches, in case you wanted to even out that tan.
Welcome to Royal North Devon Golf Club, also known as "Westward Ho!", England's oldest links, and where to the visitor, nothing seems to have changed since its founding in 1864. These links have a rich history, most evident in the clubhouse, full of old trophies and photos of past visitors like Harry Vardon, James Braid and Herbert Fowler.
Today was one of those days at Torrey Pines that reminds everyone why San Diego is such a great summer golf getaway. Sunny and 66 degrees with just enough ocean breeze to eliminate any chance of sweat. Having come in from the East Coast, which was locked in a stifling near historic heat wave, and knowing I'll be heading back to Arizona soon, it's nice to be reminded of the West Coast spots where summer truly is paradise.
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