A little piece of golfing heaven

St. Enodoc

St. Enodoc Golf Club (Church)

St. Enodoc Golf Club (Church)

Date Reviewed
April 9, 2014
Reviewed by Ed Battye
St. Enodoc Golf Club, sitting proudly above the affluent village of Rock on the North Cornish coast, is a much revered and cherished place to play golf.

It is held in extremely high regard by a number of notable golfing personnel, institutions and publications.

Golf Digest recently rated the Church course amongst the top 100 best in the World. To put this into context only ten other courses in England made the list.

All of the major UK national magazines continually rank St. Enodoc among the higher echelons of golf courses in the British Isles. And respected golf architect Tom Doak also chose it as one of his ‘Gourmet’s Choice’ selection for his respected book, The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses.

St. Enodoc has rightly received many other accolades and will no doubt continue to do so.

The course has a superb eclectic mix of holes and changes in elevation that take the golfer on an amazing, almost spiritual, journey around the impressive property. But it is greater than the sum of its parts and this is essentially what makes it such a special and unique place.

Cleverly routed by James Braid St. Enodoc enjoys a beautiful location with a varied terrain. The course is like a chameleon in that is changes its characteristics, colours if you like, throughout the entire round to blend in seamlessly with its surrounds.

The opening holes are pure links, played through fabulous duneland, before you head towards the countryside and enjoy a trio of holes with a more meadowland feel. The famous 6th hole follows where one must first hit short of, and then over, the iconic and cavernous Himalaya bunker to a secluded green set in more dunes. This hole is impressive and really sticks in the mind but there are even better ones to be found on the rolling hills of St. Enodoc.

I particularly enjoyed the first two holes through the sand dunes. Walking down the first fairway, shortly after dawn, was a dreamy experience. I wish I could have bottled the aura that was created when I reached the crest of the hill and the green came into view with its glorious backdrop of shimmering ocean beyond. I also really appreciated the strategic values of the third and fourth.

After the tee shot at the seventh you leave the dunes for a while as the course once again takes on a different flavour for the remainder of the front nine. These holes have a more manicured and polished complexion.

The 10th hole meanders towards St. Enodoc Church, an ancient place of worship with records dating back to 1299, and is the last resting place of poet Sir John Betjeman who had a strong connection with the Club. It is a difficult par four, played through a valley, flanked by large hills on one side and a stream on the other. If your scorecard comes through this hole unscathed the religious are likely to say a little prayer of thanks as they pass the church on the way to the 11th tee.

The 11th and 12th holes don’t have the razzmatazz of the other holes but they come at a point in the round where they provide a welcome breather from the exhilarating golf prior and to prepare you for what is to follow. And the subtle green complex at the latter is as good as any other on the course.

The view from the 13th green, overlooking the church and with dazzling views across the sandy Daymer Bay, is also a moment to be savoured.

The finishing trio of holes are unlikely to be bettered as a closing stretch as they return to the true linksland. The par five 16th has a majestic fairway with stunning views and whilst it may present a final birdie opportunity for longer hitters the green is bunkered well and has plenty of undulations.

The long par three 17th is a superb hole too but fittingly the best is saved until last in the form of the phenomenal 449 yard 18th. Undeniably it is one of the grandest finishing holes in golf, almost matched by the awesome view across the Camel Estuary towards Padstow Harbour from the tee. Played from up high you drive down to a wonderfully fluid fairway, snaking through a valley of dunes, before striking up to an elevated green that sits proudly in front of the impressive clubhouse.

At a smidgen over 6,500 yards the Church course is not long but the par of 69 is rarely beaten and this is reflected in a SSS of 72. The condition of the entire course on our visit in early April was immaculate with greens running fast and true.

Over the years the club has hosted many top amateur events; including the English Ladies Amateur Championships in 1993 and 2002 and the English Counties Championship in 1989 and 2005. 2014 will see it host the English Women's Amateur Championship.

If you are seeking a classic and traditional links experience you will only find this over six or seven holes at St. Enodoc. However, the course makes up for this in the embarrassment of riches it has amongst the other dozen holes and I can imagine the course only gets better with each playing.

To quickly sum up St. Enodoc, a little piece of golfing heaven, I will use the final words from Betjeman’s ‘Seaside Golf’ poem, “…splendour, splendour everywhere”.

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