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ENGLAND


O


f all the obstacles you least want when you play golf, a meandering brook that seems to weave in and around where you want to hit the ball is


perhaps the worst. It was undoubtedly the intention of the famed course architect JF Abercomby to completely unsetle every golfer atempting to beat his design when he created Bovey Castle’s 18 holes back in the 1920s. Although with two rivers, Bovey and Bowden, having a good crack at tripping up golfers on the par four, 280-yard 7th – the undisputed signature hole of this beautiful woodland course – it’s not as if you get an easy ride elsewhere. The front nine, played beneath Bovey Castle itself, all provide ample opportunities for erstwhile shots to find some water. You do admitedly have the benefit of being


surrounded by some of Dartmoor National Park’s finest rugged landscape however. Every hole – even those with a moat for protection – provides the peaceful release delivered by a picture-perfect view. It’s only when you realise that through those deeply wooded, blind corners, tight green alleys and rock-topped hills and valleys you have to somehow play a round of golf, that your mood can take a turn. It’s quickly forgoten though, as this course, which was re-engineered by Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie in recent times, is rightly considered one of the UK’s most beautiful. And with the back nine opening up and drying out


considerably compared to your opening half, you do at least finally feel there’s some hope for your scorecard.


Right from the first tee you’re given a sense of what to


expect. Firstly, before you tee-off there’s the compulsory photoshoot; the landscape sloping down to the botom of the river valley, some of Dartmoor’s finest woodland and a gurgling stream are perfect fodder for making your golfing buddies envious. It’s stunning. Save time looking for a ball that’s probably in the water by taking a few extra snaps instead. The narrow tree- and river-lined runway that


eventually takes you to the water-surrounded 3rd green might seem like a pathway to bogey, but like so many holes, when you do get the ball upon the green, it’s then that the course delivers. Step back and you find Bovey Castle itself looking down on you. If not a signature hole for the golf, it certainly is for the picture: a pristine green with the finest example of Elizabethan-style architecture as a backdrop. Even without the pesky bunkers that the architects


deemed fit to slot in to infuriate you, Dartmoor National Park has other tricks its sleeve. When it’s winding, watery-tentacles can’t reach a hole, it’s trees defiantly plant themselves right in the way, as obstructive as can be, relying on you to be forgiving because well, the place is just too darn prety to stay angry at for long. As you follow the slanting, rising, falling, route of the


par 4, 432-yard, 18th, at least you know that while you may not be too eager to share your scores for the day, you will want to share every one of the hundreds of


countrybycountry.com


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