Axe Cliff Golf Club
Course Name: Axe Cliff Golf Club
Location: Squire’s Lane, Seaton Down, Seaton, EX12 4AB, UK
Date Played: June 2022
Course Type: Clifftop
Axe Cliff Golf Club is laid out on the cliffs overlooking the town of Seaton in Devon. Constructed as a nine-hole course in 1884 it was extended under the supervision of James Braid in 1929. At present, the 18-hole course extends to a length of 5913 yards and a par of 70 from the back tees.
On a positive note, the course offers some of the most wonderful views out to sea from a number of holes and the staff and members I came across all seemed very friendly. Unfortunately, those are about the only positive aspects.
I’ve read that one of the old pros used to tell visitors when accepting their green fee of two shillings and sixpence that two shillings were for the view and the sixpence is for the golf!
I can understand why.
Although the yardage on the card suggests that Axe Cliff Golf Club is there for the taking there are a number of quite steep slopes involved which can significantly lengthen some of the holes.
You’ll also encounter a number of sloping fairways and smallish greens with quite steep run-offs. This is because most of the greens have been built into fairways that are sloping one way or another.
The design also means there are a few occasions where you will be walking back quite some way to a tee, which is never ideal in my opinion.
There are certain parts of the course that might be a little dangerous when busy with balls potentially flying all over the place.
Each tee features quite detailed instructions on how best to play the hole including photos showing you what lies out of sight!
The first half a dozen holes play up and down or across some pretty steep inclines before you reach the par-3 7th. You have to play across a ‘valley’ with the 1st green below you.
The 9th and 10th are back-to-back par-5s around 550 yards so will need some good blows if one is into the wind.
15 and 16 play along the cliff edge. In fact, I seem to recall the wind being so strong when I played here 20-odd years ago that I aimed over the edge and let the wind bring it back to the fairway.
The 16th is quite a tricky hole. You need to try and lay up to around 150 or so because the fairway then drops steeply away to the green that has loads of danger immediately behind.
17 is also awkward with a wickedly sloping fairway and hidden green before the home hole which again plays across the ‘valley’.
Overall the condition reminded me somewhat of the municipal courses I started playing on almost 35 years ago. I would assume the club doesn’t attract the level of income they would like which unfortunately often becomes a downward spiral. As the condition worsens they lose members and visitors so the income drops. This means there is less to spend on maintenance so standards drop etc. It is a difficult trend to break out of I’m afraid.
The Greens were a little bit hit and miss I felt, reasonably lush in places and looking a little bare in others. There appeared to be some evidence of the local birds having a go at one or two greens looking for food.
Most bunkers looked reasonably well raked and cared for although they did have their fair share of stones.
Starting to look a little burnt up in places due to the dry weather. The fairways were arguably the most consistent part of the course and weren’t too bad to play from.
Looking a little beat up in places and could probably do with levelling off as well.
One of the biggest challenges at Axe Cliff Golf Club is the physical one dealing with the steep slopes, particularly on the first half-dozen holes. While the middle of the round is a little less taxing you do have a pretty steep climb up to the 18th tee just to finish you off!
Axe Cliff probably has more blind shots than any other course I can recall. On the majority of holes, you seem to be playing to a marker post. While I don’t mind the odd blind shot here and there, I’m not particularly keen on aiming into the wild blue yonder on the majority of holes!
You’re unlikely to find too many flat lies so you need to be good with the ball above and below your feet and also be able to play from up and down slopes.
The greens are on the small side and mostly feature steep, sharp run-offs so you’ll need to be accurate with your approaches.
The yardage on the card might give you a false sense of security but I don’t think it will necessarily be easy to play to your handicap at Axe Cliff.
Not too much in the way of long rough unless you are right up against the out-of-bounds so it should be reasonably easy to find your ball if you stray from the fairway.
Off The Course
There’s not much in the way of practice facilities, just a clubhouse with a bar/restaurant.
The seaside town of Seaton attracts plenty of holidaymakers and you might enjoy the tramway!
Axe Cliff Golf Club: Summary
The condition of the course lets it down, certainly for the full price fee of £35. When you add in that it is a pretty stiff walk in places then it becomes more difficult to recommend. At the twilight rate of £20, it makes slightly more sense though.
While the views of Lyme Bay and Seaton are fantastic I’m not sure that the course in its current state will have you running back for more especially if you aren’t too fit.
The blind holes will also divide opinion no doubt – some will love, others hate. I would have to put it near the bottom of the list of Devon courses I’ve played I’m afraid based on the condition alone.
For more information on clubs in the region take a look at the county union website.