Reason for a St Enodoc Golf Club review

Every Christmas I head home to the West Country for a few days and a friend and I spend a day at one of the region’s finest courses. Ticked off the list in recent years are DartmouthCarlyon BayTrevoseSaunton EastPerranporth and Royal North Devon. This year, I finally got to tick St Enodoc off my to-play list.

Where is St Enodoc?

It is in the picturesque Cornish village of Rock, which overlooks the estuary of the River Camel and Padstow. As you can see above, it is not the only revered course in the area.

St Enodoc review: 8th tee overlooking Padstow

What to expect

A spectacularly wonderful and wacky links course which provides a new challenge from every single tee.

You will not tire of the views at St Enodoc. Once you leave the modern clubhouse, the Church course takes you down towards the estuary, before sweeping you down into the valley and back out again.

The first six holes make up an opening stretch as good as you’ll ever play that culminates in you taking on the infamous Himalaya Bunker.

The remainder of the front 9 takes you out to the far end of the course, and then you get to the iconic 10th, a tight dogleg left that follows a natural ravine with nothing but trouble down the left.

Holes 11 to 15 that swing round the church – more on that later – provide a more parkland feel but with all the fun of links, before the wonderful final stretch of 16 to 18 that follows the River Camel back to the clubhouse.

St Enodoc review - view over church and estuary

As Belinda Carlisle sang: Heaven is a place on earth.

Favourite hole

It has to be the 6th and that bunker. Do you lay up and leave yourself a blind shot over this sandy monster, or do you risk finding the small corridor that will leave you the best line in? Your third option is, of course, to go for the green. Just make sure the wind is behind…

A special mention also for the iconic 10th – how many holes have you played that demand a shorter club off the tee than for the approach? – and the 18th which, from the back tees, offers visually delicious views across the estuary and rivals Birkdale for the finest finishing hole among the UK’s spectacular links.

My best bit

The tee shot at the par-3 5th that left a five-footer for birdie was particularly satisfying. The putt was not. I’ll plump for the 10th. Absolutely no idea how to play it from the tee, and the course planner suggests that “5 is a good score here”, so I was pretty happy when my hybrid found the fairway, my 5-wood found the fringe, and a solid two-putt for par.

What to look out for at St Enodoc

The 13th century church that sits behind the 10th green. A fascinating building that, if we didn’t have a group on the hole behind us, I would have ventured off piste for a brief look.

The sand dunes that surround the church are as tall as the building itself and from the 16th to 19th centuries was almost completely covered in sand – it was known to locals as ‘Sinking Neddy’ and was freed of its sandy prison in 1864.

St Enodoc review - church view from 14th tee

Buried in the churchyard is poet John Betjeman, who penned “Seaside Golf” after apparently carding a rare birdie at 13:

How straight it flew, how long it flew
It clear’d the rutty track
And soaring, disappeared from view
Beyond the bunker’s back
A glorious, sailing, bounding drive
That made me glad I was alive
And down the fairway, far along
It glowed a lonely white
I played an iron sure and strong
And clipp’d it out of sight
And spite of grassy banks between
I knew I’d find it on the green
And so I did. It lay content
Two paces from the pin
A steady putt and then it went
Oh, most surely in
The very turf rejoiced to see
That quite unprecedented three
Ah! Seaweed smells from sandy caves
And thyme and mist in whiffs
In-coming tide, Atlantic waves
Slapping the sunny cliffs
Lark song and sea sounds in the air
And splendour, splendour everywhere

Beautiful. Also quite poetic is this sprinkler head on 18…

When I go back

Like most links courses, it’s a lot easier playing it for a second time so I will take advantage of my insider knowledge. I will also find time to visit the church.