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Cornwall: GOLF ATRAVEL Player’s Guide In the footsteps of giants… GOLF TRAVEL

(Part 2)

Continuing his search for the hidden gems created by the designers of the Golden Age, Charles McLaughlin heads for deepest Cornwall. Trevose 4th Green 64


Photography by Charles McLaughlin, couple by Stuart Morley





Trevose Dusk

Tricia Davies, Trevose’s starter


e left south Devon behind as we made our way across Dartmoor, en route to the far south west and the delights of Cornwall. This beautiful corner of England has been an escape for the great and good for centuries, seeking a quieter and slower paced lifestyle, and it remains so to this day. Several years ago, some of the top tracks on the coast from Cornwall to Somerset via north Devon got together and formed the aptly named “England’s Atlantic Links”. Their efforts have been instrumental in raising awareness of the heritage and sheer quality of the courses in this criminally overlooked part of the global golfing map. As is often the case, a fair amount of driving is required to get from track to track, but given the beauty of the scenery it’s no great hardship.


Playing this Harry Colt gem from 1925, located on the rugged north Cornish coast at Constantine Bay, is an exhilarating experience, especially if the wind is up. Situated just outside the charming fishing village of Padstow - home of super chef Rick Stein - this is potentially the perfect spot to be based whilst visiting the area. The super accommodation on the course itself seals the deal, and the quality of the food & beverage available in the clubhouse makes it a no-brainer. The sheer numbers of locals making 66



Clive Thomas, host at Trevose

their way to the Constantine restaurant tells a tale. In addition, under the watchful eye of host Clive Thomas, the main bar is always busy and is the perfect spot to watch the sunset. This is a very popular course, and prebooking of tee times is highly recommended. While Tricia Davies rules the roost as starter, the heart of the club remains the Gammon family, who have owned the club since 1941. Current managing director Nick Gammon is the third generation and took over in 2002. A fine player in his own right, scratch golfer Nick and assistant manager David Cowan are out on the course most days, and are currently working on a multiyear plan to setup the course and facilities for the next generation and beyond. While some links courses are noted for their blind holes and exceptionally penal rough, Trevose offers a kinder introduction to those unfamiliar with the nuances of the “bump and run” game, thanks largely to the generosity of the fairways. As such, time spent looking for wayward shots in kept to a minimum. The rollicking front nine, which affords some magnificent coastal views, gets off to a testing start with the 440-yard par4 opener. But the beauty of Trevose, aside from its consistently quick and true greens, lies in its variation. This is far from being a slog. From the members’ white tees, three of the four par-5s are potentially reachable in two on a calm day for competent golfers, and the par- threes, which are a delightful set of holes, won’t see you pulling off your fairway wood head covers unless it’s really HKGOLFER.COM

St Enodoc 8th green with Himalaya bunker behind



blowing a gale. Whilst there are some brutish par-4s on the card, there are plenty of chances to make amends should you falter. This links really is a lot of fun and warrants a couple of rounds at least on any visit.


St Enodoc 16th looking over to Padstow (Photo Courtesy by Stuart Morley)



Debate rages in 19th holes across Cornwall as to which is the better course: Trevose or St Enodoc? It’s understandable as the two courses are only a few miles apart - St Enodoc can be found across the Camel Estuary from Padstow in the royal sailing town of Rock, home of Doombar beer - and both offer a tremendous golfing experience. But they are in truth quite different. While laid-back Trevose is a fullyfledged resort, St Enodoc is very much more of a private members’ club in the traditional sense of the term. The wonderfully named GM, Tuck Claggett, is an ex-pat Yank and runs a tight ship. Set amidst towering sand dunes clad with wild sea grasses, the front nine of the James Braid designed Church Course here is a breathtakingly magnificent run of holes and affords a number of fine coastal views. The pick of the bunch and one of the most wonderfully quirky holes anywhere - is the sixth, a mid-length par-four which features a blind drive and requires the approach shot to be played over a mammoth dune called “Himalayas” some 100 yards from the green. “Himalayas” is rumoured to be the biggest bunker in Europe - and at 75 feet high it almost certainly is. The back nine isn’t as linksy

as the front and while it has some memorable moments - the closing three holes provide a superbly challenging finish - the meadowland nature of some of a few of the early holes prevent St Enodoc from being rated higher. The course is named after a small church that stands to the right of the tenth green, which is the final resting place of John Betjeman, the Poet Laureate, who penned his famous poem Seaside Golf after a rare birdie at the thirteenth. This is a taxing walking course, with the opening stretch among the toughest in the area. Strong golfers will love it, us mere mortals need to grind through the first four holes then enjoy what is a magnificent test of golf. Bring plenty of balls, and allow enough time to sample the fare in the large and well maintained clubhouse. For those wanting to spend more time in Cornwall, there are numerous tracks around worth visiting with the James Braid links at Perranporth a must-see. Also, track down the delicious Padstow Windjammer - another fantastic local beer. Hugging the coastline, we headed northeast back into north Devon and back a century or two… When talking about the “footsteps of giants” none come bigger than those of Old Tom Morris and he designed our next port of call.


England’s oldest course - and the oldest links outside Scotland - Royal North Devon, known locally as Westward Ho!, is the complete antithesis HKGOLFER.COM

St Enodoc Clubhouse to the modern style of layout so favoured by developers in Asia - and a must-visit for anyone who considers themselves a true aficionado of the game. Established by Old Tom in 1864, then tweaked by Herbert Fowler and other local sons, RND is links golf at its most raw. There is scarcely any definition to the fairways, which are classified as common land and are more often than not populated by sheep and horses (leaving “evidence” of their presence dotted around), and the greens merely follow the natural contours of the land. But herein lies its brilliance. The best holes are down by the shore and take advantage of crumpled terrain. It’s along this stretch that you encounter huge clumps of the infamous sea rushes - a tall, spiky marine vegetation that can be even more hazardous to your score than the majority of the deep sleepered bunkers that punctuate the course. However, you wouldn’t want to stray into “Cape” bunker, one of the biggest in the land, that gobbles up underhit drives at the par-four fourth. RND’s most famous son is J.H. Taylor, the five-time Open champion, and a large part of the atmospheric clubhouse-cum-golfing museum is dedicated to his achievements. At Westward Ho! you really are following in the footsteps of champions. Opinions on this course varied more than any other during our trip, and whilst the golfing aficionados will delight in this legendary tracks’s idiosyncrasies, others may find the lack of definition and the wandering animals frustrating. HKGOLFER.COM

Royal North Devon 4th Cape bunker



Royal North Devon Clubhouse

Whatever one’s opinion, this is a must-see course, absolutely no pushover and certainly memorable. On that note, it’s essential to allow enough time to take in the memorabilia on display, it’s breathtaking. (To be continued)

WHERE TO STAY TREVOSE GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB Constantine Bay, Padstow PL28 8JB +44 1841 520208 THE ROYAL & FORTESCUE HOTEL Barnstaple EX31 1HG +44 1271 342289

MORE INFORMATION ENGLAND’S ATLANTIC LINKS +44 1637 879991 GOLF TOURISM ENGLAND +44 7876 476655 The Horses: Immovable Obstructions at RND 70



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