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.
Holiday golf it might be, and for a low handicap golfer, Bude is there for the taking, but this is the epitome of fun, enjoyable golf.
Bumpy links ground? Check.
Sneaky hollows? Check.
Pot bunkers? Check.
Marker posts and blind drives? More than you could ever hope for.
Bude may be rough and wild and most of the course can be played with a drive and a wedge but boy, is this place a hoot. The first five holes play on the other side of the road from the clubhouse across supreme bumpy links turf - the 3rd hole playing to a raised green that’s routed alongside the boundary edge being the pick of the bunch. The course also borders the fronts of colourful terraced houses through this section reminding me of playing at Elie in Scotland. Unless you’re in the market for some post-round supermarket shopping, the Sainsburys that neighbours the course is a bit of a visual blight on the opening holes but the course is too much fun to let such details get in the way.
On the other side of the road, we have the remaining 13 holes that traverse back and forth over lovely linksland. This stretch also starts with a couple of beauties. The raised greens on the 6th and a similar but more extreme greensite again on the 7th are both charming and a challenge to make sure you get the right number with your yardage or you’ll end up with a bugger of a chip back up to the flag. I also loved the numbered marker posts that paved the way for the many blind shots, adding a real sense of character to the course.
After teeing off beside the school on nine, the terrain takes on a parkland setting which admittedly always feels a little out of character on a links, but this quickly sweeps back to the fun links ground at 11. The holes thereafter from 11 through to 18 then scissor back and forth parallel to one another up and back down the dunes. The rise and fall of the land means that there’s hardly a level lie to be had and the green complexes through this section are a real smorgasbord of delights. Not all of them may be welcomed by the modern golfer as some of the flags were near impossible to access, but this is a course that stands firm with its architectural principles that hark back to its original design 100 years ago; but a couple of dell-like greens, 14 being the best example, should give any keen golf enthusiast worth their salt a reason to make the trip.
I played this course after taking a detour from my hotel in Saunton and for the sheer fun of this course, it is definitely worth the drive.
This is a tight piece of land and the holes are close together in places and there are some ordinary holes but the good ones are great.
Hole 3 is the first interesting one - a dogleg left which is a good driving hole. Holes 6 and 7 is where the real fun begins - tough par 4s through the dramatic dunes. There are some other good and dramatic holes on the back 9 and Holes 16 and 17 are a tough finish, being long and tight par 4s.
Definitely worth a visit to this historical and fun links course.
Bude & North Cornwall was a pleasant surprise. It’s a wonderful low key and unexpected quirky course that starts out with five holes playing towards the sea over rather gentle dunes in the middle of town, which in itself is rather unique. It really starts to heat up with the 6th hole which works its way into a far more dynamic and undulated dunes landscape. From this point on Bude & North Cornwall breaks the record for holes with the most blind tee shots followed by blind approaches (or at least, that’s how it felt). You spend much of your time teeing off at aiming stones and even hole numbers sprinkled across dune tops.
Quite the experience and perhaps not for everyone. However, if you can embrace the challenge of the blind shot weighed against the thrill of cresting the peak of the dune to see if you made the fairway then you can really appreciate and have a blast out there. I laughed a lot and had a blast facing one crazy shot after another.
As they say it’s only blind the first time, however at Bude & North Cornwall I assure you that at least some of it will be blind the first several plays, if for no other reason than the fact there is so much of it and it would take quite a feat to remember it all.
Be warned, enjoy the ride and if you have to ask what quirk means after this round then please give me a call.
On a quick trip through Devon and Cornwall, I enjoyed this course as much as any of the more heralded ones I played. Yes, there are some ordinary holes, but as many as half (3, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16) would not be out of place on most any links course one can think of. The tee shots are challenging, as are the approaches and the green complexes nicely contoured. There are a number of parallel fairways but the routing is not at all monotonous. If you’re driving down toward St. Enodoc, Bude and North Cornwall makes an excellent pairing.
Enjoyed my round here. Not the best course you’ll ever play but it’s “different”, good value, and at the midpoint between Royal North Devon and St Enodoc.
Many holes had something to recommend - a blind drive, a dell green, elevation change, blind second, plateau green, mountain goat stance, etc. There’s quite some variety as you progress through your round.
Among my favourites was the short par 4 3rd hole, with it’s dogleg left giving you options and an attractive raised green for the second shot. I also enjoyed the Par 3 13th where I came up just short and rolled back down the slope, leaving myself a challenging up and down to a pin at the front of the green. Of course I chipped right to the back. The 10th was also a nice Par 3, although it felt like one of the many tourists who make Bude their summer destination.
Played in April this year on a foggy day. The sea views were spoiled but the course was in good condition.
I didn’t like the 8th & 9th too much and a few of the holes in the back nine felt a bit uninspired in their routing (like mowing straight lines on a lawn), but you can forgive these indiscretions because Bude it what it is and has no delusions of grandeur.
This course won’t be on most people’s lists when visiting the South West, but it possibly should be. You’ll have a fun experience, get some exercise, and maybe it’ll also give you some context as to how good all the other links courses you’ve just played in the region are.
The first 5 holes are played on a fairly featureless parcel of land away from the clubhouse and the remaining are on the club house side. Solid links territory with the exclusion of the second half of the 9th and the nice parkland par 3 10th.
It has blind shots, provides good value (14 pounds) but I got in behind a ladies comp and it was painfully slow (4hrs 40mins). You need to keep the ball straight off the tee otherwise you are left wondering where it went. Not as dramatic as Perranporth but the designers have made the most from the land. You can take driver to the long holes and be left with 8 irons to wedges in. Chances to score well will happen if you strike the ball half decently.
The greens are good and this is definitely an understated course. I actually have recall of every hole. My round fell away on the tougher inward nine as I was getting restless with the pace of play and didn’t putt anything in over 5 foot. I love these seaside courses that are so central to town and basically have the best land available (think Newquay, Nth Berwick, Gullane). A very strong 3 balls or a weaker 4 balls. Warren from Aust
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.