Saunton Golf Club: East Course Review, Green Fees, Tee Times and Key Info

The East Course at Saunton was designed by Herbert Fowler and is a challenging links that has hosted many significant championships

Saunton Golf Club
The thirteenth hole on Saunton's excellent East Course
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Top 100 Courses UK & Ireland 2023/24

(Image credit: Future)

Saunton Golf Club East Course Key Information

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Header Cell - Column 0 Header Cell - Column 1
AddressNr Braunton, Devon, EX33 1LG
Phone01271 812436
GFs£130 May to Sep, £80 in Winter
Visitor TimesAll week after 9:00 by prior arrangement
ParMen 71, Women 74
SlopeWhite/M 129, Red/W 142
ArchitectHerbert Fowler
Golf Monthly Verdict

Saunton - Hole 18

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

This is a beautifully situated and very peaceful links that has hosted many prestigious tournaments. It is the tougher of two lovely courses at Saunton which together combine to make a brilliant and varied day’s golf out in the dunes. If you can score well over Saunton East, you can probably score well just about anywhere.

Reasons To Play Saunton East

– A tough but also very fair links test; what you see is what you get

– A course for fans of a par 4, there are 14 of them from the yellow tees

– Compare and contrast with its younger sibling, the West Course


UK & Ireland Top 100 Golf Courses 2023/24 - 55

The East Course at Saunton Golf Club is the slightly more demanding of two very enjoyable links at the club that complement one another perfectly.

Situated in the peaceful North Devon dunes, the East was designed by Herbert Fowler of The Berkshire and Walton Heath fame. It is one of the best golf courses in England.

Golf was first played over this secluded linksland just south of Croyde over 120 years ago and this has headed most lists of the best golf courses in Devon ever since. It was originally just 9 holes, and then 12, before Fowler was invited to redesign the course completely following World War I.

Ever since is has attracted major amateur events, and some people have even suggested it could be an Open Championship venue if it were not for access and logistical issues.

The East opens with a really strong par 4 played from an elevated tee. Just about maximum length and usually into the wind, a par here is very much one up on the card.

As you continue, you will find nothing that is unfair or contrived. Instead, there is hole after hole of testing golf where the premium is on accuracy. While it occasionally calls for some strength, this is a very fair test of golf that has rightly won the respect and admiration of many top golfers.

Even the shorter holes have their challenges. Tiddler, the appropriately-named par-3 5th, is a perfect example. At just 122 yards, the important thing is not to go long. Do so, and you will really have your work cut out to get back close to the pin and salvage par. The same is also true at the 10th, Plateau, a seemingly straightforward but attractive par 4. Once again there is a raised green, and there is also real trouble presented by two bunkers that sit at the base of the slope in front.

The long par-4 14th is a real tester whose name sums it up perfectly, Narrows! Here, it really does pay to stay straight. The dogleg closing hole is a fittingly strong two-shotter leading you back to a green surrounded by five bunkers under the watchful gaze of all those out on the delightful patio.

Saunton East is undoubtedly one of the best links golf courses in England and enjoys a beautiful setting in the Devonshire dunes.

Saunton East - Hole 10

Looking back from the green at the short par-4 tenth

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

What The Top 100 Panel Said

Christian Morris UK&I Top 100 panel
Christian Morris

The course was a little scruffy in places for a very highly ranked course, though parts were brilliant and the greens in particular were excellent. This is one of the best links courses in England.

Mark Rollins
Mark Rollins

Saunton is blessed with one of the best 36-hole links complexes in the country, with a wonderful footprint and two championship courses that slip naturally into it.

Chris Walker UK&I Top 100 panel
Chris Walker

With prominent dunes to one side separating the famous local beach, and open land to the other, you are reliant on the course(s) to provide the views, and they don’t disappoint. Two great courses located less than a gap wedge apart, with a knockout clubhouse.  What’s not to like!

John Winter UK&I Top 100 panel
John Winter

Pot bunkers, streams, large sandhills eating into the fairways, bumps and humps. Links golf at its very best. No two holes are the same. A proper championship test from the white tees.

Saunton Golf Club Location

Saunton Golf Club Green Fees

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18 holes£110Apr & Oct
18 holes£130May to Sep
36 holes£170Apr & Oct
36 holes£200May to Sep

Saunton Golf Club East Course scorecard

Saunton Golf Club East Course scorecard

(Image credit: Saunton Golf Club)

Best Courses Near To Saunton



Old Tom Morris designed this most natural of links where recent coastal erosion has led to some ongoing changes. This is golf at its most elemental and unfussy; the oldest course in England and a living museum of the game.



There are two excellent and very different courses at St Mellion with the Nicklaus Signature Course a firm favourite in the Next 100. It is one of the best-looking and most challenging tests of golf in the area. Dense woodland, some wow-factor bunkering and various water features make both length and accuracy vital.

Best Places To Stay Near Saunton Golf Club

Saunton Sands Hotel - Book now via

With excellent views over the golf course, Saunton Sands Hotel features a spa, 2 swimming pools and a popular restaurant. The elegant rooms have modern, en suite bathrooms and the Restaurant offers formal dining and a seasonal menu.

Imperial Hotel, Barnstaple - Book now via

A few minutes away in the centre of Barnstaple, the Imperial overlooks River Taw. There is a formal restaurant serving 2 and 4-course dinner, as well as relaxed dining in the Colours Bar and terrace lounge.

Saunton Golf Club East Course Gallery

Historical Top 100 Rankings UK&I

  • 2023/24 - 55
  • 2021/22 - 49
  • 2019/20 - 45
  • 2017/18 - 41
  • 2015/16 - 35
  • 2013/14 - 39
  • 2011/12 - 36
  • 2009/10 - 30

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the better course at Saunton?

Both are lovely, but we have always had the East ahead of the West based on our well-documented criteria. There are certainly people who prefer the West as it has more variety, but we all like different things!

Which is the best hole on the East Course at Saunton?

Although it is super-tough, many people would say that it is the opening hole, a par 4 of some distance that plays from an elevated tee and has a ditch crossing where many would want to lay up. A five will often feel like a par.

Who was Herbert Fowler, designer of Saunton East?

Fowler was one of our most influential architects who was responsible for two pairs of Top 100 courses - The Berkshire and Walton Heath - as well as many other glorious one-offs.

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for 45 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,200 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during that year, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but seven and a half... i.e. not the new 9 at Carne! During the 2021-22 review period, Rob played 36 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at