St Enodoc is home to one of the finest links courses in the South West of England, and also possesses some truly awe-inspiring views, particularly of the coastline and the estuary. Although St Enodoc Golf Club was founded in 1891, it didn’t really become a good golf course until James Braid did a proper design job on it in 1907.
In his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, Bernard Darwin wrote: “Cornwall has several pleasant courses… of these; St Enodoc is a course of wonderful natural possibilities.” Braid returned to update St Enodoc in 1936 and today’s layout hasn’t changed much since. St Enodoc is set amidst towering sand dunes clad with tufts of wild sea grasses.
The fairways undulate and ripple just as if the sea had ebbed only moments ago. We have to own up – this is one of our favourite links courses because the terrain is entirely natural. The dunes are so pronounced that you cannot help but feel humbled, the holes are varied and charming and finally, so much of the experience is memorable.
It may not look it but the Par 5 1st hole is one of the easier holes even if you have to thread your way carefully between the sand dunes. Pars are harder to come by on the long par 4 2nd and 3rd holes. The 6th really sticks in the mind – a 378-yarder that kinks left at driving distance then climbs up to the green. A hidden fairway bunker may catch out longer players seeking a view of the green but laying up short and right leaves a blind shot over the cavernous “Himalaya” bunker you simply don’t want to be in. Rumour has it that it is the biggest bunker in Europe but it does have a few rivals for the title. Use your head on this one because it’s very easy to make a stupid mistake here.
The 10th hole is often described as the course’s signature hole as it winds its way towards 11th Century St. Enodoc Church where John Betjeman lies buried beside his favourite course. It is Stroke Index 1 for good reason! A good drive needs to be followed by an even better second aimed at the church porch to avoid the lateral hazard which runs the length of the hole which creeps ever closer to the left side of the green.
Over the memorable final stretch it is hard to find the right club on the downhill Par 3 15th, while the Par 5 16th boasts a rollercoaster fairway and potentially distracting sea views all the way down the right. The hole has been lengthened to 560 yards with a two-tier green surrounded by deep bunkers and has now become a stern test particularly into wind and sets the tone for the closing three holes.
To finish well you’ll need to conjure up your best strikes to make par on the long Par 3 17th and fittingly tough 446 yard 18th. As you putt out in full view of the clubhouse, you’ll probably have total recall of all the magnificent holes you’ve just enjoyed – a sign of a truly great course.
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