On Great Britain's most southerly point is one of its most spectacular courses. Alex Perry made the lengthy trek to sample this Cornish delight
I didn’t really know what to expect from Mullion as I stared at the A30 in front of me. All I really knew about it was it’s Britain’s most southerly course, just a few miles from Lizard Point, and that a friend had described it to me as “bat**** mental”.
I’d seen pictures, of course, but like many courses nothing really prepares you for the real thing.
From the moment you step out of your car it’s a sensory overload. That beautiful crisp smell of the sea, the crashing waves, the hyperactive seagulls – all tinged with nostalgia from a childhood growing up in Cornwall.
There is a golf course, somewhere. I can see a hole, which must be 18, but that’s it. Everything – and I mean everything – disappears down into the Atlantic.
Who on earth looked at this space and thought, ‘We should put a golf course here’? A beautiful mind, that’s who.
The clubhouse is my favourite kind of clubhouse – traditional on the outside, modern on the inside. And the food was excellent, too. But that’s just a bonus. We were, of course, here for the golf.
At the back of the clubhouse, and behind the small but perfect putting green, the raised 1st tee points you off into the ocean. Is there anything more daunting than a long par 3 to open a golf course? “I really like hitting 6-iron for my first shot,” said no one ever. Just to add to the excitement, a small sign tells you to beware of “active adders” on the course. Something to think about.
There is something quite interesting about the opening hole though. Your carry to the green plays over both the 18th and the 2nd fairways. Surely there aren’t many – if any – other holes that demand you hit over two other holes? Answers on a postcard.
It’s also genius because, due to the proximity of the 2nd tee to the 1st green, you have to wait for the group in front to tee off before you can get your round underway. This creates a nice space between groups and you never really end up troubling each other. Not that slow play could ever be an issue in this kind of setting.
What can you expect from Mullion Golf Club?
Mullion is a very friendly 5,871 yards off the yellows, but the pre-round scan of the scorecard to mentally prepare yourself can only lull you into a false sense of security. That long opening par 3 can be anything from a 9-iron to a driver depending on the wind, which, along with some imaginative bunkering, provides most of the course’s defence. What else would you expect from a true links?
It was a scorching hot, breathless day when we played, but chat to the locals and you quickly get the feeling this is a golf course that plays differently every time you tee up.
Mullion prides itself on its greens and it becomes instantly clear why. They say they are “probably the best in Cornwall”, which is a bold claim, but I’ve been lucky enough to play Cornwall’s finest links from Bude to St Enodoc, Trevose to Perranporth, and Mullion certainly rolls with the big guns.
What were your favourite holes?
The eight-hole stretch from the 5th to the 12th is among the finest you’ll find on any course.
The 5th, a short par 4 along the clifftop that demands a blind tee shot and blind approach, is fantastic fun, while the 6th, a 290-yard par 4 that drops dramatically over the cliff edge, is so tempting it should come with a health warning. Out of bounds down the right is frustratingly close to the green and makes you second guess yourself at least three times before pulling the driver out the bag.
Then onto the 7th, the only non-links hole on the course, but what a beauty. It meanders along the foot of the cliffs and ends up in front of Gunwalloe Church and the tiny, picturesque cove that frames it. Take a moment to soak it all in.
You absolutely cannot miss the green at the par-3 8th, while the 9th is one of just two par 5s at Mullion and, though it’s quite a slog back up the hill, it’s about as good a shot you’ll get at birdie here.
It’s worth it when you get to the top, though, because the 10th hole is the showstopper. A right-to-left par 4 that sweeps down the hill and ends back near the cove again. There isn’t really any trouble off the tee, so have some grip-it-and-rip-it fun, but it all starts getting a bit tighter with the approach and it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility here to end up on the beach. Take a club less, because no one wants to be chipping off a picnic blanket.
The par-3 11th tee is situated on the cliff edge, so pray the wind is behind you, while 12 plays round to a very cool green complex that allows you to be a bit more creative with your approach.
Come out of that stretch at anything around level to your handicap and you’ll be laughing. I have thought about this stretch of holes a lot since I played them.
Tell us about your best bit…
Remember when I said don’t miss the green at the 8th? I meant it. I missed it left and was forced to choose between chipping over a pot bunker with no grass or green to play with, or simply putting round it. I took the latter option and rescued bogey.
A birdie up 9 earned that shot back, but when I think of Mullion my mind immediately wanders to the 10th. If there is such a thing as making a rollercoaster routine par, this was it.
Will you do anything different next time?
I won’t hit driver off 6. It’s just soul destroying watching your shiny new Pro V1 sail out of bounds.
Finally, where is Mullion Golf Club?
It’s a fair old trek. Even from when you cross the Devon-Cornwall border at Launceston it’s a good hour and a half – though a third of that is the final 15 miles or so once you leave the A30 at Redruth.
But boy is it worth it.
- For more information visit the Mullion Golf Club website
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