In the thirty plus years I’ve been a golfer, I have played a lot of golf in Devon, but it’s almost exclusively been on the wild Atlantic coast at Saunton and Royal North Devon – where I’ve been a country member for nearly two decades. My only experience away from the north side of the county was at Bovey Castle on Dartmoor. The course (and hotel) had enjoyed an incredible transformation when the famous entrepreneur Peter de Savary took it over in the 2000s.
So, when the opportunity came up to visit the Cary Arms, another of de Savary’s properties, it took me a matter of minutes to say yes. There’s no golf course on site, but the seaside inn has formed a link with Teignmouth Golf Club, just eight miles up the coast. Two weeks before I was due to visit the sad news broke that de Savary had died, so the trip felt like a poignant one.
Nestling in picturesque Babbacombe Bay, the Cary Arms is a luxury 5* boutique hotel where guests stay either in rooms at the inn or in a selection of beautiful cottages that are dotted around the little lanes that surround it. We were staying in Cove Cottage that sleeps up to six and, like all of the cottages, enjoys absolutely glorious views over the bay.
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Checking in was an experience. The road sign highlighting the 30% hill and twisting nature of the road that takes you down to the Cary Arms from Babbacombe hinted what was to come, but the reality was another level. I was very glad to be driving a Porsche Macan T for the duration of the trip. The SUV was poised and calm (unlike its driver) when having to perform a series of three point turns, on a wet, leaf-covered road, on a 30% hill, in the dark!
Refreshed from a great night’s sleep, the next morning I set off on the journey to Teignmouth. This was another chance for the Porsche to show its qualities as the drive was along a twisting coastal road to the pretty town of Shalden, over the bridge that straddles the River Teign and up a hill to the club.
On arrival, the forecast sunshine was yet to break through and a layer of mist sat in the Teign Valley obscuring what, according to the pictures on the club’s excellent website (well worth a vicarious look even if you have no plans to visit), were quite magnificent views. For my round I’d been paired up with three local members: Mark, PJ and Andrew, who all proved to be…