|St. Enodoc Golf Club's Church Course in Cornwall gets its name from the 12th century church it passes on the back nine. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)|
CORNWALL, England - The par-4 10th hole on St. Enodoc Golf Club's Church Course starts from an elevated tee, and the ensuing 450 yards throw you up and down its rugged fairways before finishing at the base of the tiny, 11th century St. Enodoc church.
Members at St. Enodoc are usually all too pleased to walk away with a bogey five here. Visitors are lucky to put a number on their card the first time around.
You have to wonder if it's coincidence the golf course's most formidable hole ends at the church, the spot on the course where you'll most likely be begging the heavens for the most mercy.
But the Church Course at St. Enodoc makes for one of the true gems of southwest England golf. It has all the ingredients of a true 19th century links.
The golf course's current form is thanks largely in part to James Braid's 1907 redesign. Before then, the course was entirely wild and finished far from the current clubhouse location. What Braid crafted has become one of his most acclaimed works and a favorite of golf course designer and traditional links enthusiast Tom Doak.
In fact, in his book, the "Confidential Guide to Golf Courses," Doak described Enodoc's fourth as one of the great short fours in the world. Even during St. Enodoc's top amateur events, the hole has a reputation to bring even the top amateurs to their knees. In fact, the course record is just a 4-under par 65 after over a century of play.
The links challenge is there, but what makes the Church Course a standout is that on practically each tee box you're looking at entirely new, yet equally breathtaking, vistas.
"We're lucky because we have the added bonus of scenery and a challenging course to go with it," said Tuck Claggett, general manager at St. Enodoc. "A lot of clubs have one but not the other. We have the whole package."
The scenery consists of not only the Camel Estuary and the St. Enodoc Church but on-course gems as well, like the massive "calamity" bunker standing between the fifth fairway and the green, one of the the isle's largest and to be avoided at all costs. On the par-3 15th, a small public road runs right in front of the green. Coming up five yards short may as well be the equivalent of 10 yards long.
There are only two par 5s here. The first hole tumbles its way out towards the sea.
The 16th is one of the most captivating holes, featuring a tight fairway playing parallel alongside the coastline, where ships used to meet their end centuries ago when trying to leave the port.
Your work isn't done yet, though. The par-4 18th plays up to 446 yards, gently uphill the whole way. Though St. Enodoc's yardage is under 6,600 yards from the championship tees, few are going to describe the course as "short."
St. Enodoc's Church Course has all the ingredients of what you travel to the British Isles to play golf for. It's got the scenery, the challenge and the fairy tale church. Local poet John Betjeman asked to be buried here within the grounds of his favorite golf course, which he often used as inspiration when penning his next poem.
This is as classic and charming of links as you'll find and all the more reason to make the trip to Cornwall on England's sunny southwest coast. In fact, little has changed on the Church Course since famed golf writer Bernard Darwin wrote his description of the course prior to World War II.
It doesn't matter which generation or skill of golfer plays St. Enodoc, however, you're not leaving here disappointed.
Peak season guest green fees are £55-£65. St. Enodoc has a second 18 holes, the Holywell course, which plays just over 4,000 yards and is a par 63.
For lodging, head across the estuary to the Metropole Hotel, which looms over the town in an old, turn-of-the-20th-century building once used for summer vacationing aristocrats. It's located in the center of Padstow, a charming, old-fashioned fishing village with a worldly reputation for seafood, now home to four restaurants from English celebrity chef Rick Stein.
The tiny downtown area is easily walkable and full of tiny shops set along narrow, stone streets. Beaches are nearby as well. From the hotel, you can look across the bay and see St. Enodoc, the Doom Bay and the par-5 16th.
For more information on golf in southwest England, visit Atlantic-Links.co.uk
January 2, 2009
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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