The course at Bowood Park Golf Club is laid out within two hundred and thirty acres of the 14th century hunting estate that belonged to Edward of Woodstock, Duke of Cornwall and Prince of Wales (better known nowadays as The Black Prince) and it first opened its doors to golfers in 1992.
The course was routed by Bob Sandow (a former associate of Robert Trent Jones) but was laid out by Bob Knott in collaboration with Brian Huggett (who played in six Ryder Cups and was GB&I Team Captain in 1977). Bowood Park was ahead of the game in the UK, the Cobbledick family not only commissioned a well-known professional to headline its design credentials, but also the owners assigned Eddie Connaughton – one of Europe's leading agronomists – to the project.
As its name suggests, Bowood Park is a parkland course, in fact it's set in what was once the largest deer park in Cornwall. The outward nine is routed around rolling hills while the back nine meanders through the valley of the River Allen.
Greens were constructed to USGA specification and more than two-dozen water hazards come into play during the round, none more so than at “Azalea,” the 385-yard par four 12th, where its island green is accessed via a covered, New England-style wooden footbridge. The sharply doglegging par five 13th is stroke index one for very good reasons. It's jealously protected by water on the corner of the dogleg and short left of the green. Despite its relatively modest 510-yard length, very few birdies will ever be carded here.The layout extends to almost 6,700 yards from the back markers and it plays to a par of 72. Both the front and back nine return to the clubhouse, which is very handy on society days when groups of golfers can get out on the course in double quick time.
Bowood Park is very much a child of the 90's, a modern style course with generous but sloping fairways and the awful mounding to the sides; little in the way of bunkers so few tee shots captured the imagination. Reference is made of an ancient deer park but not much evidence of deer and not that many trees. Course was quite wet in October (little roll on the fairways) but greens were in good condition; greens were infact very large for which the putting green was no preparation at all.
Nothing much to report on first 11 holes, undulating parkland but nothing too interesting; the long 7th was long, and the tee shot on 8 had to be threaded through some trees, but after that it was an uphill shot to a blind pin. The 12th is definitely the best hole, a good hole which actually has natural features (sadly lacking elsewhere) to work with including trees and water; the second shot to the island green was excellent. After the tee shot 13 was a nice looking par 5 but having hit my second up the gap between the pond on the right and ditch left I was dismayed to find that this was not fairway but an area of rough. This seemed to be a common theme on a number of holes where the fairway is interrupted by an area of rough enroute to the green; very unusual course set-up and very frustrating for a visitor for whom it is difficult to anticipate - didn't like it at all. Hole 15 was a good par 4, but the course finished in a similar vein to it started . I noticed another comparison with Bowood in Wiltshire as they are not dissimilar in style, but for me the Wiltshire version is better in terms of presentation and number of interesting holes.
We stayed in the hotel and it was fine and good value and I can see Bowood Park being an excellent society venue and a good base for golfers visiting the area, infact I have a great deal of admiration for the entrepreneurship to develop such a venue. Just not my sort of course I'm afraid
As guests of the hotel, we decided to play an afternoon round at Bowood Park as a complement to the morning at Saint Enodoc.
As it is evident, they are not comparable, but we found that Bowood is an entertaining and well presented course.
Undoubtedly, the best holes are in the back nine, and very especially the section from the 11th to the 13th: the first is a nice downhill par 3, the 12th is a gorgeous par 4 between trees and with a water hazard shy of the green, and the 13th is a complicated par 5 with many options, but where I would recommend a conservative strategy in order to score well.
And, in general, I must highlight the way in which the design of the course uses the changes in elevation of the terrain to make the course enjoyable and interesting.
Without a doubt, it is not the best course in Cornwall, but I would recommend it as an interesting option for anyone in the area.
Whilst visiting family in Cornwall I stumbled across Bowood Park Golf Club near Tintagel. My word what a brilliant golf course!
I booked via their easy access website to book a tee time and was welcomed fabulously by Max in the Pro Shop who gave me a little insight to the course and the history of the club. 10/10 for hosting the green fees.
When I stepped out onto the 1st tee the views up the valley are breathtaking. The course is very well manicured and the greens were surprisingly fast for a parkland course. The signature 12th hole is simply superb with the bird song in full swing when approaching the green.
I thoroughly enjoyed the course and the people that welcomed me, I also had a spot of lunch after which was very nice and good value for the portion size I had.
I will be back again in 6 months which will be interesting to see how well this course plays in Winter. If I enjoy it as much I'm seriously thinking of joining on a country membership.
Well done Bowood Park!
I’m sure I’m not the only one to have driven straight through Camelford on the A39 en-route to St Enodoc, Trevose or Perranporth and completely ignored Bowood Park, which is set only a mile or so away from the Atlantic “super” Highway. Last Friday I returned to Bowood Park after a gap of more than twenty years. Back then the course was very new and I thought it was rather average.
What a difference a couple of decades make. I was genuinely impressed with Bowood Park last Friday. I feel that it’s not inferior to its namesake in Wiltshire, but I’m sure the two West Country Bowood namesakes serve only to confuse people.
The old deer park in Cornwall is pretty much ideal for golf. There’s plenty of rolling ground movement to keep you on your toes and a good number of exciting golf holes, some of which (particularly around the turn) reminded me of the Nicklaus course at St Mellion that’s located only a dozen miles or so to the south east of Camelford.
The first three holes feature greens that are set below the fairway (or tee in the case of the par three 2nd). I was wracking my brain to recall another course that started in a similar manner and drew a blank. The overhead wires on the 4th are not ideal, but the downhill tee shot on the 5th is cracking driving hole where you’ll do well not to be intimidated by the pond and the small copse of trees, which sit slap bang in the middle of where you’d ideally want your drive to finish.
The back nine is, in my opinion, stronger than the front. It’s here where you’re transported to St Mellion-esque terrain – there are even a few houses of a similar vintage dotted here and there. The star of the show is the gorgeous par four 12th where a pretty water lily-clad pond sits to the right side of a gorgeous tree-lined valley. If you miss the fairway, a lay-up is sensible play as the approach is all-carry across a babbling stream that front the green.
A course planner would have stood me in good stead on the par five 13th which will be unlucky for most players. I walked off unhappily with a seven. It’s no surprise that this is rated the hardest hole on the course. A pond guards the inner elbow of this acute dogleg right. A good drive should favour the left side – I of course went down the right and was blocked out by trees. Having punched out to the left side of the fairway I was left with 200 yards to the green. Playing for a fade, I managed a double-cross and drew the ball directly into the pond set short left of the green. It’s a really interesting (hard) hole that’s like no other I’ve seen before.
You then enter fairways flanked by houses for a couple of holes to a complete character change after the former two holes which play in splendid isolation.
I enjoyed the driveable short par four 16th where I should have taken a driver having run out of fairway into an awkward lie after hitting a peach of five wood. Somehow I managed to get up and down – more luck than judgement.
It was nice to talk to Max in the pro shop after the round and then meet Ross Cobbledick who turned his farm over to golf in the early 90s. Learning all about the stresses and strains at the start of the project made me realise that we should never take golf courses for granted. You need persistence and be prepared for blood, sweat and tears in order to end up with a product as solid as this one.