Mullion Golf Club is set spectacularly on the cliff tops of the Lizard Peninsula in one of the most beautiful and most exposed locations in England. Originally founded in 1895, Mullion Golf Club came close to extinction on a number of occasions and, like the proverbial phoenix, the club managed to claw its way from the ashes.
William Sich was the driving force behind Mullion’s early years and he is also accredited with the course design. An exhibition match in 1966 featuring Peter Alliss, Dai Rees, Norman Sutton and Bernard Hunt celebrated the re-opening of the full 18-hole course and Mullion has never looked back.
Mullion is mainland Britain’s most southerly golf course and for the most part the ground is sandy and links-like. Rod originally nominated the course as a Gem and we added Mullion to the Top 100 website in March 2006. Rod reckons Mullion is “not championship golf just enjoyment golf”. We heartily agree and Mullion has since deservedly attained a coveted ranking position.
The cliff top setting is exhilarating, and, although Mullion is not the most exacting golfing challenge, it is one of the most enjoyable and natural golfing experiences in Britain.
I’ve wanted to play Mullion for a number of years, as my local home course is also a member of the 1895 Club. Last Tuesday morning I finally made it down to the southernmost golf course on mainland Britain. It was blowing a gale and raining when we eventually pulled into the car park – ten minutes late for our tee time. With only half a dozen or so cars parked up, we didn’t think time would be an issue. Wrong. It was ladies’ competition day and we were ushered straight out onto the course. No time for coffee… Ah well.
I was frankly underwhelmed by the first five holes and then quite shocked when I arrived on the 6th tee. The wind was howling off the left and we both bade farewell to our golf balls, as they no doubt joined their friends in the adjacent rough down the right side of this impossibly tricky and rather unreasonable downhill short par four. The fairway of the 7th, billed as “one of Cornwall's finest stroke index one holes”, was partially under water, so it was playing as a long par three from what appeared to be a permanent forward tee box. Apparently this hole regularly floods.
At this point, bewildered by the hype surrounding Mullion, we arrived at the pretty and well-bunkered uphill par three 8th, before taking on the par five 9th, fondly known as “Cardiac Hill”, an unattractive hole with few redeeming features except for the jaw-dropping coastal view looking back down the hole from behind the green.
By now the rain had stopped, the sun was shining but the wind was still blowing hard. I was certainly unprepared for the splendour of the 10th hole. This was the best hole I played during a short 90-hole trip, which included Bude & North Cornwall, Newquay, Lelant and Ilfracombe. If I called Mullion’s par four 10th “stellar” it would be an understatement. A solid downhill tee shot (into the teeth of the wind) left a knee-jangling approach to a green that seemed to be clinging for its life to the very edge of Great Britain – pure unadulterated magic and a hole that will always be remembered. Jake Starr describes the 10th nicely in his review below.
#11, #12, and #13 are good holes and #14 was probably also good, but the main green was out of commission due to the greens staff top-dressing the surface. This hole played to a small and very scary temporary green that seemed way more permanent than any temporary winter green I’ve seen before. This tiny little putting surface seemed to jut out into infinity and beyond. The wind was blowing hard across the hole towards the cliff edge and all we could do was aim well left and hope for the best. It was one of the most daunting approach shots I’ve ever played. Needless to say we didn’t actually go for the green in two.
The excitement of #10 though #14 quickly disappeared at #15 as the routing returned inland to the rather pedestrian terrain shared by the opening five holes.
Despite a few ball-searching incidents we remained ahead of the ladies. Their lead twosome tried their best to catch us – the women don’t hang around here at Mullion.
I find it almost impossible to rate the course – it’s Jekyll and Hyde. A few of holes are truly brilliant but more than a few are mundane.
Would I recommend Mullion? Absolutely. I’d make the return trip just to play #10 to #14 and I’d keep my fingers crossed that the entirety of #7 was in play.
A fair review of what is a definitively "uneven" golf course.
We however played it in on a lovely Summer's day and it was a superbly quirky experience with constantly diverting views.
Not having a slice #6 was fine (despite the Adder warning signs) and #7 was fully in play, and one of the most memorable holes I've ever played.
Mullion is a real treat and holiday golf at its finest. Mullion has an eclectic mix of tasteful par 3s, short and long par 4s, and a couple of good hikes on the holes away from the sea and toward the clubhouse. In one of the most remarkable scenes in golf, to the right of the 10th green is a sandy beach, framed opposite by a stone chapel partially engulfed by rising dunes, with ocean waves crashing ashore, the sea sparkling beyond, and land’s end hazy in the distance. Good luck staying focused on your approach shot and putt! Local guides state that Conan Doyle and A.A. Milne played their summer golf here. If Mullion is good enough for Sherlock Holmes and Winnie-the-Pooh, it’s good enough for me. - Jake Starr
The short par four 6th slopes steeply downhill and to the right. Unless you aim left, you face the prospect of a lost ball. The long par four 7th leads to Gunwalloe Cove, the final resting place of many sunken ships. The old church bell-tower is your correct line.
The 9th is a par five of just 482 yards. However, you will realise this is no pushover when you see the steep uphill climb. The par four 10th descends to the beach but it is the second shot that poses all the problems as a ravine lies between the beach and the elevated green.
The 11th returns to the cliff edge. The 17th, described as ‘the warmest spot in England,’ is another very scenic part of the course. Mullion is rather short at only 6083 yards but on most days the wind will make up for the lack of length. You will be disappointed if you forget to bring your camera.
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.