Ilfracombe Golf Club Review
Course Name: Ilfracombe Golf Club
Course Name: Ilfracombe Golf Club
Location: Ilfracombe Golf Club, Hele Bay, Ilfracombe, Devon, EX34 9RT, UK
Date Played: Summer 2020
Course Type: Cliff-top
Ilfracombe Golf Club Review: Introduction
Ilfracombe Golf Club was founded in 1892. It sits just outside one of North Devon’s most popular holiday spots.
It offers wonderful views across the Bristol Channel, the only downside being it is a fairly hilly course. If you are used to a flat track then you might want to consider booking a cart (buggy).
While it is a private members club, visitors can pay a green fee. In the US this is known as semi-private I believe.
I think Peter Alliss sums up the club much more eloquently than I do.
Perched on the cliff-top just outside the town it climbs up and then back down with an interesting variety of holes including a number of blind shots.
If you happen to play the course on a nice sunny day then it is quite easy to forget about the golf and just marvel at the view.
Looking at the card the first hole might appear a bit of a doddle. Even off the back tee only 469 yards, Par-5. Not quite so easy in reality with a sloping fairway and a big hump to negotiate before running down to the green.
The second hole tests your concentration with another marvelous view and is the first of a trio of consecutive par-3s. Anything pulled to the left is almost certain to be a lost ball. Err too much to the right and you may find one of the bunkers that guards the right side of the green.
Another longish par-3 follows played slightly uphill. You’ll be happy to know there are no bunkers but the distance and likely prevailing wind will prove to be enough of a challenge.
The final par-3 in this little run is a bit of a tiddler, coming in at around 70 yards or less. The massive pit you have to carry is likely to grab the attention of the average amateur. Assuming you can avoid a mishit then this hole shouldn’t pose too many problems.
The fifth hole will test your calf muscles if you’re walking. A nice uphill stroll of 450 yards or so lots of trouble to the left and unfortunately the fairway slopes in that direction. Should you have the firepower to reach in two then you will need to account for the green being set up slightly. Anything falling short will come back down the hill.
Turn to the right and you are faced again with another long par-3. If you need to run the ball into the green then take care, you are now playing across the slope that goes from left to right.
A short par-4 just over 300 yards is the seventh. Some big hitters may fancy their chances of getting on or near the green on a calm day.
The next is another par-5 which on paper you might think looks easy. Once again Ilfracombe shows you why golf isn’t played on paper. You have to play over and across another fairway and green to a fairway that slopes from right to left. Better players might be able to try for the green in two but beware of the slope!
The main danger on hole nine (“cloud nine”) is out of bounds down the left-hand side. If you go over the hedge into the farmer’s field then I’m afraid it’s reload time. Favor the right-hand side and that will give you a better line into the green.
To start the back nine we have a good testing par-4. Plays slightly shorter than its yardage as it’s mostly downhill. Take care with your second shot to make sure you clear the ditch about 50 yards short of the green.
The next hole doesn’t worry you with length but you need to favor the left side due to the fairway sloping to the right. It also avoids putting your tee shot in with the sheep!
Another medium length par-4 to follow, the only real danger on this one is if you mishit your second and put it in a large grass bunker short of the green. Probably best to go for the right side of the green as anything short left will be kicked away by a bank.
The 13th “safety first” is a slight dogleg where you need to keep the ball down the left-hand side. On the right, you have a ditch that also cuts across the fairway and an internal out of bounds.
The next hole is played from an elevated tee at an angle to the fairway. You’ll need to make a decision as to how far left you want to aim to avoid running through into the rough. A good tee shot should only leave the medium to short iron.
The 15th brings you back down the hill with a wonderful view of the water once again. The green has five bunkers at the front and also offers trouble at the back so you need to be accurate with your approach.
Two of the last three holes are par-3s. The 16th is downhill, which should only require a medium iron. Just try to avoid the bunkers and you should be fine.
If you can avoid the bank to the right of the 17th fairway then you should do well. Around the green there is a quite pronounced slope so you need to hit an accurate approach.
The home hole is a long par-3 with a sunken green. You’ll definitely be happy with a three on this hole.
All that’s left now is the 19th!
Given all the pandemic turmoil in the early part of 2020, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the greens which putted well.
Quite well looked after and offered a slightly more forgiving playing surface than the tighter mown local links courses.
Again for the most part in pretty decent nick.
Having teamed up with some locals partway through my round they were keen to point out how tricky the course could be if the weather wasn’t in your favor. Given its exposed position I have no doubt how difficult the course could be with a strong wind or some rain. Even on a calm day, you have to strike the ball well to keep the ball in play on the sloping fairways.
Off The Course
Due to Covid I was, unfortunately, unable to sample the delights of the clubhouse. From what I can glean the vast majority of people are very happy with the catering on offer. The professional shop was well-stocked and the staff were friendly.
Given the climb involved, I would suggest a cart (buggy) might be in order for many.
If you just picked up the card and saw there were six par-3s and a course of under 6000 yards then you might write it off.
In my opinion that would be a mistake, it is an old-fashioned and quirky layout that will give you a good workout but the views are truly majestic.
If you’re in North Devon I highly recommend a round at Ilfracombe Golf Club.
If you happen to have a county card then you get a 20% discount on the green fee.
Those moving to the area might consider membership at a very reasonable at £530. ($735)
Other Devon Courses: