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.
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.