Iconic UK course threatened by coastal erosion

Royal North Devon

One of the UK’s oldest golf clubs may be forced to relocate more of its course to prevent it from falling victim to coastal erosion.

The Telegraph is reporting that Royal North Devon – the oldest club in England – has drawn up plans to move its eighth fairway further inland having already done the same for its seventh fairway and green.

The course, which sits on the coast of the Northam Burrows Country Park in England’s south west, dates back to 1864 but has become increasingly susceptible to climate change.

In 2018, land behind the eighth tee was obliterated by Storm Eleanor with further damage to dunes adjacent to the seventh green also occurring that same winter.  

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General manager Mark Evans told The Telegraph that the situation is becoming increasingly serious for the historic course, dubbed the ‘St Andrews of the South’.

"It has escalated over the last five years when we lost about 50 yards of land in depth and we lost the eighth tee four years ago,” he said.

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"There is a lot of concern about the future. Low lying golf courses are suffering but we seem to be suffering more than most.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency echoed Evans’ concerns, saying: “We advise that all development is moved as far away from the coastline as possible.

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“The new eighth tees are offered some protection by the rock armour but this is not guaranteed for any length of time.

“We also advise that the existing seventh tees are moved inland where possible. There are significant erosion issues in this section at the moment.”

The spokesperson added that the proposed plan offers only a ‘temporary solution’ and that further movement will be required ‘in perhaps five to ten years’.

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