Mullion is one of those golf courses that throws the rule book out of the window at times.
Set high on the cliffs at Cury near Helston in Cornwall just a few miles from the most Southerly point on the British mainland the setting is idyllic for golf. I enjoyed this atypical course smeared in sun cream on what was the hottest day of the year to date under a big blue sky with a gentle breeze tickling the cliff-tops.
In a nutshell Mullion, founded in 1895, is good old fashioned holiday golf with lots of fun moments, however, if one digs a little deeper there is much more to it than that.
It's easy to split the round into three distinct sections; the first five holes, holes 6 to 14 and the final four.
Although the opening holes do not contain the drama of the middle section it is an enjoyable start to the round and the holes, played along the highest part of the property, played exceptionally well in the rare easterly wind I encountered on my visit in June 2021 and there are some nice subtleties to the start of the course. It is not demanding from the tee and has minimal long rough which is a good thing because wind is the main defence at this high and exposed layout. The contours of the greens are very good and we see this continually throughout the round. Whilst Mullion often gets lauded for it's views and setting, and rightly so, I actually thought the strength of the course was the putting surfaces; their contouring and green-sites.
The opening hole - a 196-yard par-three that crosses the 18th fairway- has a large, front-to-back sloping green, the second sits in a shallow basin which encourages an approach along the ground, the downhill third enjoys an enviable backdrop, the climbing par-five fourth green is really well angled for a sub-500 yard three-shotter whilst the fifth sits the other side of some broken ground with severe drop-offs to contend with. There's a lot more going on at these opening five holes than initially meets the eye.
Meanwhile, holes 6 to 14 are undeniably the essence of Mullion and contain some extreme golf, often for the better but occasionally not so. The plunging and dramatically sloping 311-yard sixth can be driven with an iron in favourable conditions because of the steep descent but with trouble lurking in close proximity to the right and an almost impossible hanging approach form the left it is imperative that you hit a straight ball. I can imagine the monthly medal will regularly see anything from eagles to double digits at this divisive hole. Personally, I can't say it's a good hole but it certainly makes you think.
The seventh has a touch of class about it whilst wise golfers will utilise the backstop at the short, uphill eighth. The ninth is not short but it is very much uphill and is a tough walk. This transition holes takes us from sea-level up to the elevated tenth tee and it is from here Mullion comes into its glorious own. The 10th is a unique par-four with massive movement in the land from all directions with a green teetering above the beach at Gunwalloe Cove adorned with sunbathers on my visit. There are a multitude of ways to play this fascinating hole and whilst I'm not sure I chose the correct one I was delighted to walk off with a par. The next is a strong par-three and the 12th is another stellar hole, sweeping across the cliff-tops to a wonderful green complex. 13 and 14 are also good, medium-length par fours.
By the time we reach the 15th tee we have seen the best of Mullion but the finish is far from weak, indeed the 18th is a lovely closing hole played down towards and alongside the clubhouse.
It all totals up to a 6,053 yards with a par of 70 but I imagine it will play equally well from the 5,871-yard yellow tees.
Mullion ticks a lot of boxes for me. It is very playable - although the fairways are quite narrow the semi-rough is light and keeps play moving well. There is some good strategy at times where you must approach the green from the correct side to have the best angle and it has some unique holes too which is always a big plus in my book. The turf, whilst not linksy, is good to play from and the condition of the greens was excellent with the exception of the 14th which takes the brunt of the wind and weather and will probably be re-laid in the near future according to the General Manager.
I visited the course because it had been shortlisted for National Club Golfer's Top 100 Golf Courses in England project. It will be a tough nut to squeeze into because the competition is high but the fact it had been nominated is all you really need to know. There are perhaps just a couple too many ordinary holes to keep it out but if you are trying to rank a course like Mullion you are missing the point. It should also be noted the course recently made the Golf World Top 100 Under £60 Green-fee list.
Many golfers will never see the course because of its southerly location on the Lizard Peninsula but if you ever find yourself golfing in the South-West it is a course you should add to your list.
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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.