Founding members formed North Cornwall Golf Club in 1891, playing on common land in Bude known as Summerleaze Downs and their pioneering spirit lives on in the form of a small 9-hole pitch and putt course that stands beside the modern day 18-hole layout.
Bude Town Golf Club (later called Bedes Haven GC) was established in 1921 and its artisan members looked after the course until merging with the main golf club to form Bude & North Cornwall Golf Club shortly after World War II.
The prolific course designer Tom Dunn did a fine job squeezing 18 holes into a tight tract of land between the town and the coastline. Holes 1 to 5 lie on one side of Golf House Road with the remaining fairways fitted into the available ground on the other side of the street.
This seaside course extends to just over 6,000 yards from the back markers and its modest overall length is not surprising when the scorecard shows that the trio of par fives on the layout average less than 450 yards from tee to green.Just be aware that the only two par fours in excess of 400 yards come at holes 16 and 17 (stroke index 2 and 4) so Bude & North Cornwall is more than capable of landing a late punch on golfers who switch off towards the end of the round.
Those that admire greens hidden in punchbowls, greens raised onto plateaux, blind drives, blind approaches, stirring topography and hard and fast surfaces need look no further than Bude and North Cornwall.
Tom Doak’s “quick reconnaissance failed to find any holes worth delaying our arrival at St Enodoc” proves that making an assessment based on a quick recce can overlook something that’s totally unique and at times thrilling.
The first five holes at Bude are nothing to write home about. The short dogleg left par four 3rd is not a bad hole with its elevated undulating greensite but that’s about it on this small triangle of linksland over the road on the western side of the clubhouse. The fun starts at the SI 1 6th.
A solid blind drive over the marker post will leave a mid iron approach across a valley to a narrow raised plateau green which is protected by two “hill” bunkers benched into the left-hand side. #6 would not look out of place at St Enodoc.
#7 is one of the quirkiest holes I’ve ever played (in a good way I might add), a short par four where finding the fairway is essential, but easier said than done as the ground is more rumpled than Sandwich or Rye. The approach shot to the raised green that’s sitting twenty or thirty feet above the fairway is scary, even with a short iron in hand. It too would grace St Enodoc. The photograph was taken from behind the 7th green looking back towards the town and the invisible fairway far below the plateau.
The short par five 9th is half links (for the drive) and half parkland from thereon in and #10 is a nice par three that’s set in a wooded glade with the green half-ringed by a stream.
#11 takes you back directly to the links for a blind drive on this short par five and the short par four 12th features one of several punchbowl greens on the way home.
My playing partner was less than enamoured with Bude when we teed it up here last Saturday, but he wasn’t that keen on Royal St George’s either. Quirky courses such as Bude are not everyone’s cup of tea, especially the first time round when you’re not sure where to hit the ball. But I’m a huge fan of audacious lie of the land courses and I’d gladly be a member here if I lived closer – it ticks all my boxes.
There is uniqueness about Bude & North Cornwall that lovers of true and natural links golf will find not only alluring but extremely exciting.
The movement in the land throughout the property and the contouring of the greens is amazing and makes playing here a truly fabulous golfing experience.
The opening five holes are played on a triangular parcel of land separated from the rest of the holes by a road. The proximity of the course to the town of Bude, which has grown up all around the course, is noticeable and gives a different, but refreshing feel, to many other links courses. At many times during the round you are within a pitching wedge of shops, restaurants, a school and several houses. You won’t find glorious isolation at Bude but you will find a fascinating and quirky golf course.
After a couple of getaway holes Bude really starts to come alive from the third with a really impressive short par four; a fairway bunker provides options from the tee on how to tackle this dog-leg hole which is played to an excellent plateau green. It is then followed by a superb par three where you may be cheered (or booed) by drinkers on the veranda at the nearby Beach House Hotel… depending upon if your tee shot finds the green or not! It’s almost certainly the closest most of us will ever get to playing the 16th hole in the Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale! Meanwhile, the fifth has a wonderfully fluid green that completes the holes on this part of the property.
The fun undoubtedly continues at the sixth and seventh where you play from rumpled fairways to raised greens. Holes like these two are unique and are a reminder of how golf should perhaps be. You may not always get what you deserve but they are certainly played with a smile on your face. Indeed, the stretch of holes from the 3rd to the 7th at Bude is very good.
Bude far exceeded my expectations and for a £10 twilight green-fee this has to be one of the bargains in not just the South-West but the entire UK. It was a shame the greens were in poor condition on our visit but this didn’t take away from what was a memorable experience on a true links golf course.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
What a lovely little gem. Probably not ever going to trouble any ranking lists, but great fun nonetheless. The first 5 are the least interesting, but back over the road it really gets going with some genuinely good links holes with 6-10 and 16-18 particularly enjoyable. It is easyish, but certainly not a pushover, and in any case that's all to the good when having a gentle afternoon round on holiday. And fantastic value at £22! The condition of the course was superb, greens running smoothly, and the welcome was warm. If you come with your expectations at the right level you will be glad you made the journey.
The course has the unusual aspect of being bordered by the town, the sea and the countryside. A feature is the undulating fairways and a number of blind tee shots. It might be only 6057 yards long but, with so many out of bounds hazards, you won’t score well unless you drive the ball truly here. The greens are very good and are a change from the sometimes rather flat links greens.
The 3rd is a severe dogleg left that favours a gentle draw from the tee. The par three 4th is only 114 yards but there are six bunkers and out of bounds to be avoided. Five and six are similar length par fours, with the 6th being considerably more difficult. The drive is blind and the plateau green is narrow. The front nine ends with a very short par five that bends to the right.
The par three 10th is just 154 yards. Do not miss the green as there is a burn at front and right, bunkers left and out of bounds at the back. The 13th is an even more demanding par three. It is 201 yards in length and has out of bounds along the right. The 18th offers a little respite in that it is a short par five but you need to be conscious of out of bounds on the left of the dogleg.
This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every English course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
The third hole was one of my favourites; a short dog leg left with a slightly raised green played towards the coast with out of bounds to the right which is flanked by a picturesque row of colourful Cornish houses. There is then a walk across another road to the first par three which is surrounded by some deep pot bunkers. The fifth takes you back to the clubhouse again and has a very long undulating green, after which you cross the road where the stroke one hole on the course awaits you. Make sure you are not short with your approach to the raised green here as a deep pot bunker awaits anything not cleanly struck. The rest of the course is played within a rolling set of dunes.
Highlights for me included all of the short holes, in particular the par three thirteenth hole which you catch a glimpse of when you walk from the tenth green to the eleventh tee. This is a classic one shotter and at 202 yards from the back tee provides a real challenge. Again a large pot bunker will gobble anything up short right of the green. The last four holes do pack a punch when it comes to scoring so you have to be on your game right until the end at Bude. The finishing hole does offer up a birdie opportunity but only if you feel confident enough off the tee to flirt with the internal out of bounds on the left side of the hole. For me the course boasts some tricky greens with a lot of undulations (the 7th and 15th immediately spring to mind) and together with quite a few blind shots, especially off the tee on the back nine, made me feel this is definitely a course you need to play at least once before you start to feel confident about where you are aiming. The greens rolled well and held true despite not looking their best visually. Overall, Bude was certainly an enjoyable experience with some good holes and friendly staff and one that I would recommend to anyone who has yet to play it.
We played Bude & North Cornwall yesterday in sunny but windy conditions (25 mph). The car park was jammed full and people were everywhere when I arrived. This is clearly a popular little club. The clubhouse itself is comfortable and more than adequate. I adored the little putting green which sits directly next to the clubhouse from where there are stunning Atlantic views… next stop North America.
The first tee is across the road from the clubhouse and five holes (four relatively short up and down par fours and one par three), are routed across a small parcel of triangular land that is bordered on every side by roads. The 4th hole, not a bad par three to be fair, is across another road at the furthest western extremity of the course. There’s a 250+ yard hike from the 3rd green to the 4th tee which is literally set in the point of the triangle where you’ll find holidaymakers keen to watch you swing away. I didn’t like the routing and it looks like they are putting in another par three here, hole 4A perhaps, which I think is a great idea.
The first five holes are not the most salubrious start to a round but the ground is pure links and the turf is excellent. After putting out at the 5th green which is being extended and will look great when it has bedded in, you cross the road back to the clubhouse and the 6th tee, which is an excellent par four with a blind tee shot which rises up to the brow, from where you get a great view of the narrow stage-like plateau green which is guarded by two bunkers. From this hole onwards, the golf is really good. This is the real links deal with holes that tumble across, round and over the dunes.
The only issue over this side of the road are a series of footpaths that snake across the course. The course is bordered on the north by the town of Flexbury and Bude town lies to the south, consequently these footpaths are shortcuts for residents and are well trodden.
Footpaths aside, there are some great holes at Bude and the one-shot holes are especially good. The course moves inland at 9 and this is a short par five that plays towards farmland. The approach is from a high fairway where the hole narrows and the green itself is located in a glade-like setting. The 10th is set in the trees and it’s an unusual short par three (SI 18) that features a burn that wraps around the front and right side of the green. It’s really very pretty.
After the first five holes I had virtually dismissed Bude as a holiday course that had no rightful claim to an English ranking position, but by the time I’d putted out on the 18th, I’d long since decided that this is a tough little links that is great fun, quirky, old-fashioned and a course I’d play again, I’m not convinced that a 6,000-yard course merits being a par 71 but it throws up genuine birdie opportunities on the three par fives, however the P5 18th (454 yards from the backs) was playing into the teeth of a 3 or more club wind and was a bit of brute. Additionally there are only two par fours over 400 yards, but somehow the birdies were few and the bogeys were frequent at Bude & North Cornwall yesterday.