Bude & North Cornwall with a Scilly excursion
The golf course has been dropped into the middle of town and commands views over the sea a little like Newquay overhanging Fistral beach. I, romantically, imagined the club springing organically from common lands, common custom and a common passion for golf; the town’s people retaining their ancient rights to roam, graze and play. A little bit of Scotland in North Cornwall.
As ever history is less romantic. The original Victorian yuppies and holidaymakers ebulliently carved out the land for golf at their leisure and only, latterly, admitted the artisans and embraced the local community. As with so many courses it is a vestige of the Victorian tourist empire. What is handed down is a course criss-crossed by footpaths trodden by locals, tourists and golfers alike and, I suspect, to the occasional frustration, of all parties.
I found the course not without charm; many of the green settings are rolling linksy tongue twisters and the turf is, for the greater part good links soil with fine greens. I had the course almost to myself but despite the course making reasonable efforts to point me in the right direction I did not always pursue the right line. There are too many blind shots and raised greens which make it a struggle, particularly for a first timer, to enjoy the course to the full. I know I failed my geography exams but too many clubs assume to much foreknowledge. Frustratingly this is a problem that can be readily solved by the simple expedient of clubs gifting a decent yardage chart and map to every green fee guest. Something intermediate to a full yardage book is fine if the profits from such a guide need to be maintained.
The first five holes loop down towards the sea which must offer a different challenge from one tee off time to the next, let alone from one day to the next. At the other end of the course it is more park like. Overall the course is not long but the wind adds plenty of length when roused
This is open, flattish links golf with a kirk (it definitely seems more Scottish looking than a rural Devon parish church) on one side, the sea on the next but then, discordantly, a rather dominating Sainsbury’s and later a humbler Co-Op.
Bude is a premier example of Victorian golfing imperialism and as such is a fine holiday course but there are insufficient intrepid links holes to describe it as being in the very first division. However the club showed it’s class by allowing me to donate my green fee to Alzheimer’s Society. For which many thanks.
I was fortunate enough to venture on to Tresco and managed to play the Isles of Scilly golf club on St Mary’s which has sometimes been described as a links.
This is a nine hole course with a good and clever variety of second tees to make the second nine as interesting as the first. At 5,942 yards it is only 94 yards shorter than Bude. It is played along the cliff tops and shows the most magnificent views of all the Scilly Isles. It is not a links course but it must be played for the imperious views and to support the club.
I suspect that some of the traps and features have been modified to fall in line with budget and appetite for the game but what is there is well tended. There are a couple of lovely holes, the par 3 4th/13th perched on the edge of the cliff and a a delightful green setting on 7/16 behind stone walls and banks. Sadly the isles will always struggle to maintain a course and to compound it they have recently lost their steward. If anyone is interested in semi retirement you could do worse than to move down to St Mary’s and enjoy the people, the views and the sensational seafood.
Given their plight they still, most generously, supported my appeal for Alzheimer’s Society and allowed me to donate my green fee to them. For which many thanks.
I also found a private pitch and putt course on St Martin's and a pitch and putt at the Hell Bay Hotel on Bryher. Your reward for reaching the most westerly course in England is the combination of stunning views and no green fees!
Despite this the total raised this summer is nearing £5,500. Thank you to all the clubs who have donated their green fees, the sponsors who provided the caps and the golfers who have bought them.