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.
Date: May 07, 2019