The movement in the land throughout the property and the contouring of the greens is amazing and makes playing here a truly fabulous golfing experience.
In all honesty the actual quality of the putting surfaces on our visit in early April 2015 was disappointing. They had recently been scarified, covered in sand and the ball was bobbling all over the place. We obviously got them on a bad day but looking beyond the actual condition of the greens there is something special going on here.
The opening five holes are played on a triangular parcel of land separated from the rest of the holes by a road. The proximity of the course to the town of Bude, which has grown up all around the course, is noticeable and gives a different, but refreshing feel, to many other links courses. At many times during the round you are within a pitching wedge of shops, restaurants, a school and several houses. You won’t find glorious isolation at Bude but you will find a fascinating and quirky golf course.
After a couple of getaway holes Bude really starts to come alive from the third with a really impressive short par four; a fairway bunker provides options from the tee on how to tackle this dog-leg hole which is played to an excellent plateau green. It is then followed by a superb par three where you may be cheered (or booed) by drinkers on the veranda at the nearby Beach House Hotel… depending upon if your tee shot finds the green or not! It’s almost certainly the closest most of us will ever get to playing the 16th hole in the Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale! Meanwhile, the fifth has a wonderfully fluid green that completes the holes on this part of the property.
The fun undoubtedly continues at the sixth and seventh where you play from rumpled fairways to raised greens. Holes like these two are unique and are a reminder of how golf should perhaps be. You may not always get what you deserve but they are certainly played with a smile on your face. Indeed, the stretch of holes from the 3rd to the 7th at Bude is very good.
The course displays a slightly different character for holes eight, nine and ten where it loses its linksy feel but retains the challenge. The par-five ninth is the sandwich between two short holes and is also the pick of this trio where a drive down the left will open up a secluded green surrounded by trees.
The course then peaks again with a run of holes from the 11th through to the 14th that are excellent and call for all kinds of creativity. The short par four 12th and demanding par-three 13th are real highlights along with the brilliant dell green at the 14th.
The final five holes on the course do feel a bit up and down but there is some good golf to be found too. A wonderful stream meanders through this part of the course and adds another layer of character to this highly enjoyable golf course.
Bude far exceeded my expectations and for a £10 twilight green-fee this has to be one of the bargains in not just the South-West but the entire UK. It was a shame the greens were in poor condition on our visit but this didn’t take away from what was a memorable experience on a true links golf course with a big feel-good factor.
Copt Heath is a very fine parkland golf course that requires precision, plotting and a deft touch around the slick greens.
The Blue is a mix of American-style design and traditional English parkland. It's an unusual combination which makes the most of the terrain available. It was designed by Simon Gidman and opened in 1994.