With glorious views across the headland and the famous surfing beach of Fistral, Newquay Golf Club was formed in 1890 when a 4,325-yard links was laid out for the founding members.
Newquay Golf Club survives today due to rioting by farmers and fisherman who opposed the building of The Headland Hotel on the site where they grazed their livestock and dried their nets. Despite the riots, the hotel was finished and is now a striking and ever-present landmark, however the planned housing estate was not developed and so the links survived.
When additional leased land became available in the early 1900s, Harry Colt was called in to ring the changes. The following paragraph was published in the Newquay Golf Club Centenary Book:
“Mr. Colt had laid out the new course in the most approved modern style of golf planning, dog-leg holes being one of the chief features. Many bunkers had been made and others filled up, and no expense had been spared in the effort to make the best possible use of the course.”
The course Colt laid out more than one hundred years ago is essentially the 6.141-yard layout that’s in play today. The routing is far from out-and-back. Holes loop this way and that across land which at first glance looks uninspiring. The entire course slopes away quite markedly from the clubhouse down towards Fistral Beach, but the layout doesn’t feel hilly.
A sunken sandy footpath dissects the northernmost third of the links and this walkway must be negotiated six times during a round. Golfers will hardly spot beach walkers on this path from the fairways, whereas brightly coloured boards carried on surfers’ shoulders are more likely to seen. After all, Fistral Beach is the home of British surfing.
After staying for a night in the luxurious Headland Hotel last year (highly recommended), I’d dismissed Newquay Golf Club as holiday golf and travelled to Perranporth instead. The Headland overlooks the course and from the hotel front, Newquay appears to be a somewhat open field, but that’s far from the truth. Fortunately, on a recent trip back to Cornwall for a post-lockdown golf tour, I decided to give the course a shot and it massively exceeded my expectations.
What a beautiful place this is. The holes are located on the incline overlooking Fistral Beach, a location famed much more for its surf than its golf. With a County Card I paid £27 for the pleasure and there are a lot of fun holes out there with a good degree of challenge making that excellent value for money. The course measures just over 6,100 yards and as a par 69, despite its openness and beautiful seaside views on display, this is no walk in the park. Whilst I’m sure that the course has been altered and upgraded over the years, the bunkering has stayed true to its Harry Colt roots and the conditioning was excellent, particularly considering the harsh Winter, dry Spring and what I’d expect was limited maintenance during lockdown.
From the off, I found the bumpy fairways an unexpected treat and that instantly dispelled my presumption that this is just a linksy field on a hillside. There are some superb holes out there. The 4th is one of my favourites on the front nine and plays over a pair of large fairway bunkers uphill to a benched green - benched greens are a regular feature of the course, as they also reappear at 12, 14 and 17.
The 5th too is a lovely par four that plays along the boundary line into the corner of the plot set beside the beach. Good holes then keep coming; 7 being a beautiful par three with a mounded green and a large vertical fall-away to the front left into an ugly deep bunker. This is before the footpath holes then start to come into play mid-round which represents an unusual challenge, and probably not something everyone will enjoy, particularly higher handicap golfers.
9 is another lovely par three, also elevated and surrounded by bunkers, this hole felt very Colty. 10 and 11 for me then represented the most ordinary stretch of golf, but to remedy that, the best hole on the course at 12 then arrives with a wide angled fairway playing into another one of those benched greens set into the hillside with embedded greenside bunkers. This is all laid out in front of harshly contrasting swish apartment blocks. The repetitive nature of traversing over the footpath (there must be a half-dozen of these holes) started to wear a little thin later in the round but I wouldn’t want that to take away from what I’d consider to be a beautifully designed and well bunkered course. At £27 for a round, I can confidently conclude by saying that I’ve never played a better course with cheaper green fees. A must-play if in the area.
Newquay divides opinion amongst our Society like no other course.
I think it's great fun, excellent value holiday golf with superb views and fun features like the slit trenches taking people to the beautiful beach.
Another good links course in the South West that exceeds expectations. The county ranking here is probably about right. This course is a few grades below the bigger hitters in this county but it is still definitely worth a visit.
Some great holes here - especially all the par 3s including the 2nd (a long semi-blind par 3 at about the 200 yard mark), the 6th (great par 3 from an elevated tee to an island green on a dune) and the 9th (a short uphill par 3 that is surrounded by bunkers). 14 is a great hole that doglegs to the left with some penal bunkers preventing you from getting too greedy and 18 is a solid finishing hole.
My only issue with the course is the pathway that cuts through the course (which you have to hit over a number of times). For whatever reason, pedestrians, properties or cars in my eyeline does a lot more to give me the jitters than any water hazard or bunker can manage. I know there’s not much the club can do as it is a public footpath but my blood pressure would be a lot healthier if the club invested in a slightly more protective net for the walkers!
Overall though, great value for money for a fun links course.
Correction: what I described as hole 14 above, is actually the 12th. I see below that Keith got the holes mixed up too so we are all human.
This is one of the most underrated courses in the country. It may not have the beast factor St Enedoc but in terms of playability it far exceeds its more distinguished rival.
I’m just back from a trip with professional to 18 handicap golfers and we played this course 6 times. We didn’t need to play anywhere else. It’s really that good. Each hole has its own character. It’s very scoreable - a few of us best par but equally 10 over was more common. So it’s a real test too, especially with the wind changes. But even if this were an average course (which it most certainly is not) it would have to be rated highly just for the sensational views on EVERY HOLE. If this was a longer course it would certainly be on the open rota. A brilliantly designed track with the best views of any golf course in the country surely.
Possibly the biggest (and most outrageous) comment on this website...."certainly be on the open rota". Agreed it's a good course but not that good.
On a visit to the South-West that entailed no less than seven links courses Newquay proved to be the surprise package of the lot.
Perhaps it was our pre-conceptions that due largely to its popular seaside location this links would offer up little more than ‘holiday’ golf. We were proved to be wrong. Very wrong. And happy to be so.
After a relatively slow start the course, which has hosted many county events, springs into life at the uphill par four fourth which has a green cut into the side of a large dune. Ominous looking bunkers appear closer than they actually are from the tee but must still be crossed with the uphill approach.
The sweeping downhill fifth has a magnificent backdrop of Fistral Bay and requires a deft approach whilst the next dog-legs in the opposite direction and uphill to a majestic green atop of a large rolling sandhill. After you have played the short but superbly crafted par three seventh you are left in no doubt that this is a course worth visiting.
The bunkering is another strong point at Newquay. Here you will find fearsomely deep hazards, especially guarding the greens, where escape rather than precision becomes the primary objective. Holiday golf this is not.
In summary Newquay has half a dozen or so holes that wouldn’t look out of place on some of the more revered links in the South-West. And despite a handful of weaker holes it is a course that does not disappoint. Whilst I wouldn’t class Newquay as ‘holiday’ golf it is certainly somewhere I would consider playing if holidaying in Newquay.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
An interesting course packed full of surprising features given the initial impression one gets from Google earth. You can see the whole course just about all the time and each hole has enough to provide you with a solid course. Very few stock standard straight up and down holes and plenty of undulations to keep you guessing.
There is not an abundance of rough but what there is is well placed. Good bunkers and sound greens. Scorched, bone dry turf promises a round of pure links golf. And is definitely not a push over.
This is the first of 17 games I am playing over the next 12 days covering every links course from West Cornwall to Pennard. I’ll rank them all at the end. Warren from Aust.
You have a great trip planned Warren - Kudos.
Will look forward to hearing about what follows - Enjoy!
...this also highlights why golf course enthusiasts could use some kind of networking facility - perhaps you’ve already sorted yourself out, but I’d love to have known about such a comprehensive regional exploration to show you around my own club in the area - you’re probably playing just one round and joining a member could complement your own experience (and vice-versa)
BB, Just saw your message. Yes, if Keith etal could just add a drop down menu option labelled "Social" then we'd be on our way.
If a league table for flying under the radar existed, Newquay would be near the top of the list. I’m sure Newquay has been dismissed by many as holiday golf, after all, the course is set above Fistral Beach and even if you have no interest in surfing you must have heard of Fistral?
If you’re into golf and surfing, there’s probably nowhere better in the southwest of England, except of course Saunton, which wins comfortably from a golfing perspective, but Fistral surely has the edge surfing wise.
The opening hole has played into the prevailing wind on each occasion I’ve teed it up here… and that was the case a week last Monday. It’s a short par four on the card but it certainly doesn’t play short, where the approach shot has to carry a series of unusual humpy ramparts in order to reach the green set on higher ground. The long par three second (more than 200 yards from the backs) is a brutal uphill hole that’s ringed with bunkers, both sand-filled and grassy. Pars here will be few and far between. The greensite on the 3rd is the star of this short par four but the SI 2 4th not only has a lovely greensite benched into the hillside (miss right at peril) but also a series of raised cross-bunkers to negotiate en-route. I think Newquay’s start is very strong and there is little respite on any hole, especially when the wind is up – as it usually is.
The par four SI 1 13th is a favourite hole which sweeps to the left where the Headland Hotel forms a backdrop. The green is also benched delightfully into the hillside and three diagonal cross-bunkers must be negotiated for the approach shot creating a dramatic hazard, which I can’t remember noticing anything quite like this on a links course before.
The club has used every last inch of available space from the modest acreage and frankly there’s little to criticise. Being picky, the turf on the higher ground is rather coarser than the fine sward found closer to the beach, and there are more daisies growing in the short grass than I’d like to see, but these small agronomic quibbles apart, I think Newquay is a fine, honest links course that really should be better known. And the midweek twilight green fee at a mere £22 is an absolute steal.
The hole being described as the thirteenth is actually the 12th with the 3 cross bunkers and headland backdrop index 5
Eric, you are of course correct... it's the 12th... my mistake.
I am so glad to read a positive review of Newquay - many deride some of the course as a "field with flags", but I think that it is superior, and exceptional value, holiday golf in the true Hidden Gem of English golf, Cornwall.