Some Cornish people regard Cornwall not as a county of England, but a Celtic independent province. Not wishing to offend anybody we will simply say that Cornwall is a beautiful part of the British Isles, a place where the influence of the sea is everywhere.
The golf course at St Enodoc Golf Club is no exception. It’s located at the royal sailing town of Rock, the links overlooking the Camel Estuary and the picturesque harbour of Padstow beyond. The Church course at St Enodoc takes its name from the tiny 13th century place of worship that stands to the right of the 10th green. In the middle of the 19th century, a fierce storm completely covered the church in sand and it was eventually extricated in 1863.
Although St Enodoc Golf Club was founded in 1891, it didn’t really become notable until James Braid refashioned the course in 1907. In his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, Bernard Darwin wrote: “Cornwall has several pleasant courses… of these, St Enodoc is a course of wonderful natural possibilities and actual virtues as well.”
In the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses, authors John F. Moreton and Iain Cumming had this to say: “The course was altered in 1922 by another hand, the new 8th hole being added and construction of the 11th and 12th in place of the 11th, 12th and 13th. Later, Tom Simpson built a new 6th, which is the 5th on the modern course. Further work was necessary in 1935 because a new clubhouse had to be built to accommodate the increased number of golfers, due to motor cars. Braid was invited to construct a new 17th in place of the 18th and reversed the 1st to make a new 18th. The holes were then renumbered.”
St Enodoc is certainly a quixotic and rather hilly links course, set amidst towering sand dunes clad with tufts of wild sea grasses.
The fairways undulate and ripple just as if the sea had ebbed only moments ago. We have to confess – this is one of our favourite links courses because the terrain is entirely natural. The dunes are so pronounced that you cannot help but feel humbled, the holes are varied and the experience stirs the soul.
There are many great holes here at St Enodoc, but the 6th is a bit of a collector’s item, a hole of absolute uniqueness, a blind drive followed by a blind mid iron second shot which must carry over a confrontational sand dune called “Himalayas”. This stands some 100 yards out, guarding the hidden green. Let’s be honest, this is an enormous dune, worthy of its name, rising up over 75 feet high. Make sure you get your club selection right and that you strike the ball cleanly! The 10th is also an unusual hole, apparently one of Peter Alliss’ favourites. The hole follows a natural ravine and requires a solid drive from an elevated tee across a valley to a pencil thin rippling fairway below.
If your ball happens to come to rest in the churchyard after a wayward shot, keep an eye out for John Betjeman’s headstone. The Poet Laureate lies buried amidst his favourite seaside course. After a rare birdie on the 13th, he penned his famous poem “Seaside Golf”.
There is a hint of moorland and an inland flavour to some of the holes, especially those surrounding the church, but this simply provides variation. We could go on, but alas we wouldn’t want to spoil all the other lovely surprises that are in store for you here at St Enodoc.
The first time I played the Church course at St. Enodoc was on October 23, 1996. I was the first one out as a visitor, paired with a husband and wife, who were also visitors but good partners as they had played the course before. At that point in my life, I had only played seven highly rated courses in the USA, Oakmont, Pinehurst #2, Merion East, Firestone South, Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Pasatiempo. I had moved to the UK in August 1993 and had played approximately twenty courses that have been on top 100 UK lists. At the time my golf game was erratic. I hit the ball farther but I did not always know where it was going.
The only reason I chose St. Enodoc that day was I had read a story in a UK golf magazine of the courses with the biggest bunkers and St. Enodoc was listed as having the tallest. From the view of the first tee, I suspected I was going to play something unique and special. As I walked down the first hole with its high dunes to the right, so many swales in the fairway, sizeable depressions and valleys alongside the fairway, I was reminded of some of the great links courses in Scotland such as Turnberry Ailsa and Prestwick. That first hole seemed to tumble downhill forever. As I continued the round, I realized St. Enodoc had land thrown even higher and was more wild than what I had played to date in England and Scotland. Additionally, the views were much better than those seaside courses in Scotland. Other than Pebble Beach, at that time it was the only course I had played where the views from the course were even better than the views of the course.
We played the visitor tees and I managed a score of 10 over par on the par 69 course. I liked every hole on the course as each one felt different than the one before. Each hole offered a new challenge than the ones already played whether it was due to the land or the green complex. Some of the holes seemed even whimsical to me such as the short fourth and the very difficult tenth. I marveled at the sixth with the famed Himalayas bunker so daunting and large in the side of the dune. I burned the image of the ninth hole in my mind, a par 4 from the elevated tee with undulations, humps, mounds, and rises in the fairway back dropped by a green framed by trees behind it. I considered the ninth to be one of the prettiest inland holes I had ever seen. It reminded me of sixteen at Pebble Beach, back when that hole was framed by trees before disease took most of them away.
I walked off the course that day with two thoughts. The first thought was that I did not think it was the greatest course I had played but I felt it was the most unique course I had played to that point. I really liked how the course was routed to take advantage of all of those hills, the holes rising and falling. I liked how the course was unconventional both in its terrain and overall par. Most importantly, it was the first time that I played a golf course where it dawned on me how it takes a special kind of genius to figure out a perfect routing for that amazing over-the-top variety of the terrain. James Braid was a genius.
The second thought was that I had to return someday. This was a golf course that I knew would play differently no matter how often one played it.
Nearly twenty two years later I did return on July 22, 2018, this time with three friends who had not played the course. I was eager to show them this previous “hidden gem” although like many others they had learned of its brilliance. I was a better player than I had been back in 1993 although I had lost 12% of my distance. I was curious to see whether being a more consistent player would influence my assessment of this quirky, fun, ridiculous at times but always fair golf course. I shot six strokes worse, failing this time to make a birdie and having four double bogies. I did not mind the higher scores; I got to experience more of the course such was the feeling evoked by the golf course. And I loved the Church course even more.
There are many courses in the UK/Ireland where I would love to be a member, if it made sense. In the top five is St. Enodoc. To be fair, the reasons extend beyond the Church course and include having a second golf course as well as its location. In choosing the golf club with the best two courses in England, I do not put St. Enodoc in the same league as Saunton or Sunningdale. But the Church course is so good, perhaps St. Enodoc is equal to Walton Heath, Rye or The Berkshire. It’s a good debate.
Looking at the previous reviews, there is no reason to go through a description of each hole. Jack Snell has done a wonderful job in his recent review while others have fully captured the holes they wished to highlight. M. James Ward wrote a wonderful summary of the overall experience.
I share many of their opinions of the exceptional start of the holes 1-3. I like the fourth while others find it forgettable. For me it is a high risk-reward hole with danger both left and out-of-bounds down nearly all of the right including greenside. The raised green has two bunkers fronting the left side before the land falls away steeply downhill into the high grass followed by the tee for the fifth. Going long over the hole also has a tee for the fifth. It is a very nice green complex for that site. Quite frankly, I like seeing the cows to the right on the side of the hill.
Five through nine are tremendous holes, with eight a well-crafted par 3 with all of those bunkers at the front of the green and continuing around the green.
While others criticize the tenth due to a fairway as narrow but slightly more penal than the fourteenth at The Island, I have a higher opinion of it. It is rare that a hole has two shots that are so consequential but I believe this is in keeping with the uniqueness of the Church course. The tenth is out of character to the rest of the course due to the width of the fairway, the multiple chances of finality due to a bad shot, and the green being located off to the side. Yet making a par on this hole gives one a feeling of ecstasy perhaps higher than a birdie on any other hole on the golf course. Making bogey is somewhat expected and a double here is very likely. But this is exactly the type of hole that had to be built for the contours of the land. I suppose one could argue it could be a shorter par 4 or a slightly longer par 5, both of which are possible. Making it a par 5 would convert the total par to 70 which is more traditional. Yet I like the braveness and execution required for this hole.
Eleven and twelve are fine holes, although not at the level of the previous holes.
After my first visit, the one hole I did not care for was thirteen as a short par 4 with no real view other than from the tee. I still think it is the weakest hole, but the green itself is well defended and can be penal with out-of-bounds on the left. The green is expertly shaped.
On my first visit, I also did not think highly of fourteen despite one of the most interesting looking greens one will ever see. Yet on my second visit after a perfect drive, it did me in when I did not execute the required shot because I relaxed and was complacent on the hole (after having ducked into the church to have a look at its interior). There are spots around this green that can turn a routine par into a double bogey. Whether a double should happen is unlikely unless one hits a poor drive, but I had a better appreciation for the hole’s defenses.
The finish is very good from fifteen on in. It is a very good accomplishment to play the final three holes in level par as they are all difficult. As good as the first hole is, the sixteenth is an even better par 5. Seventeen is likely the most difficult par 3 on the course, long and uphill and somewhat tucked into the hills surrounding it. Eighteen is a fine finishing hole.
I read other’s comments about which course is the best in Devon/Cornwall. For me it is easily the Church course at St. Enodoc. Given the number of outstanding golf courses built in the last twenty-five years, I do not think it is a top 40 course in the world, but I certainly see it below 85.
Two of my friends who played that second round also rate golf courses. Because of the beautiful day we had, bright sunshine, short trousers, amazing views with so many boats in the bay and harbor, we talked about St. Enodoc for days as we went to other golf courses. All of us agreed about how splendid the views are and how wonderful an experience is a round of golf at St. Enodoc. We had just finished playing Saunton (both courses for two of us) and Burnham & Berrow. All of us agreed St. Enodoc was the one we rated the highest. We also agreed it is still under-rated at least by Americans. Finally, we agreed it is one of the best experiences in golf.
I suppose it would be best to start this review by stating that I have not played many truly top courses. St. Enodoc, St. George's Hill and Woodhall Spa are my only World Top 100, along with Notts Hollinwell and Vilamoura Old & Victoria courses, which are also ranked highly regionally.
But what I can say is that I whole-heartedly believe St. Enodoc is a truly remarkable place. A cut above anywhere else I've been and I find it very hard to imagine that golf can get much better than this anywhere else in the world.
First of all, it's the only course I've ever played where I could vividly remember every hole, days, even weeks later. Each one is unique. Each one poses different questions and presents a different challenge. Each one is worth at least a couple of sentences. So on that note…
The first is great opening hole and a really fun par 5, which is just as well because you will have to wait until the 16th to play another. High sand dunes line the right hand side of one of the most undulating fairways you’ll ever walk upon. The approach is played blind up over a hump about 200 yards out, which once traversed, reveals an unguarded green and the beautiful Camel Estuary with the dramatic cliffs of Stepper Point in the distance.
The second is a strong par 4 with a tee shot played between the sand dunes and up towards an elevated green. A steep false front and large, deep bunker on the right hand side will punish any approach played without conviction.
The third is one of those holes that you only find on old links courses. By that I mean, nobody would design anything like it today. From an elevated tee you play a long iron down a wide fairway towards a wall and public footpath. The hole dog legs left as you play a mid to long iron over the wall towards a narrow green with out of bounds lurking to the right.
Four is classic risk-reward driveable par 4. The brave player may attempt to hit a sweeping draw to find the narrow putting surface in one. But anything other than a perfect shot will result in the ball finding a deep bunker, gorse bushes, out of bounds or some other form of nastiness. The safer play is a fairway wood to the top of the hill followed by a simple pitch down the angled green. But where’s the fun in that?
The fifth is the first par 3 and is no walk in the park, especially from the back tees. Played over a ravine towards a well-guarded green, anything short will roll some 50 yards down a slope leaving a devilish pitch back up. It’s all too easy to make a 5 on number 5.
And now the most iconic hole on the course. Number 6 with the infamous Himalaya bunker. A towering pit of sand that, when viewed from the end of the fairway, seems to stretch miles into the sky. If you do manage to keep your nerve, a crisply struck short iron over the mountain hazard will be generously rewarded as everything slopes in towards the punchbowl green. But if you do find yourself in you-know-where, playing out backwards may not be silly as it sounds.
Played from the yellow tees, number seven presents an uncomfortably blind drive over the back of the Himalaya sand dunes. But played from the reds, whites or blues, you find a much more pleasing prospect. A spectacular view across the course towards to sea and a downhill drive into a wide, though well bunkered fairway. The approach is simple enough but avoiding the bunker short right is a must.
The eighth is a fine par 3. Short but with a green sounded 8 pot bunkers. Getting up and down out of one of those will feel as good as making birdie.
Number nine is probably the most generous driving hole on the course as the fairway spills over onto the 16th coming up the other way. A large green attractively framed by tall scots pine trees should be an easy target to find. But a bunker and a stream lie to the right.
Ten is another of those holes that you simply would not design today. Why? Because it’s inherently, yet brilliantly unfair. For all but the very longest of hitters to have a chance of reaching the green in regulation, the drive must find a strip of fairway no more than 3 yards wide. Anything left will find a stream, anything right will find a bank, which will likely propel the ball left… towards the stream. If by some miracle you do find this hallowed ground, you’ll be tasked with hitting a perfect draw with a long iron around the corner of the trees towards a hidden green. Over turn it and your ball will never be found. For once a weak bail out to the right isn’t such a bad play. In fact, aiming for the chapel 30 yards right of the green and fancying your chances of getting up and down, may well be much more likely to yield a par. Ten is horrible. Ten is brilliant.
From the back tees, Eleven is longest par 3 on the course. As it invariably plays into the wind blasting in from the ocean beyond, it feels very long even from the yellow or white pots. Left or long finds a stream, right finds one of 2 pot bunkers.
Number Twelve is memorable in that it’s the least memorable on the course. A pleasant enough 2-shotter that would probably be regarded as a strong par 4 on a lesser links, provides little if not a breather between the drama of the holes it lies between.
Thirteen is a strong, uphill par 4 that inspired the most famous (the only?) golf poem. Instead of reading what I have to say, read John Betjeman’s ‘Seaside Golf’ for a review of this tough hole.
The Fourteenth is a really fun, quirky test. A tricky drive over a chasm towards an angled fairway with gorse lying in wait on its left hand side. It’s wise to play to the left side of the green as it’s literally perched on top of a wall on its right hand side. If your ball just drops off the edge, your only option will be to play back down the fairway.
Fifteen is probably the most beautiful on the course. A lovely downhill par 3 played over another chasm and a lake towards a small green surrounded by gorse and bunkers. The panorama of the cliffs and estuary beyond is truly enchanting, especially as the sun start to set. Despite playing 30 yards downhill, the hole often plays every inch it of its yardage as it nearly always plays into the wind.
Finally we reach the second and final par 5 on the course. A booming drive on number sixteen may manage to get over the large hump in the fairway. If so, as the ball is propelled down the other side, you may have a chance of reaching the green in two. The green, nestled in amongst sand-dunes and bunkers, is an attractive but dangerous target.
If you were hoping for a gentle finish to the round you’ll be disappointed, as seventeen and eighteen are two of the toughest on the course. Seventeen is a long, up-hill par 3 with a deep bunker short right that gobbles up any weak, slicy long iron.
Eighteen is as strong a closing par 4 as you’ll find anywhere in the world. The rumpled fairway will leave anything other than a flat lie as you fire a mid to long iron approach up the hill towards the green. Finish your round with 2 pars and any howlers earlier on will vanish from memory.
In summary I believe St. Enodoc to be a truly unique and memorable golfing experience. It thoroughly deserves its place in the World Top 100, but more than that, I think what’s worth remembering is that that list is full of exclusive and maddeningly expensive courses. A round at St. Enodoc, a course as impeccably maintained as any links, is going to set you back no more than £100, even at a weekend in summer. With that in mind, I’d bet anything that you can’t find a better value golfing experience than this one.
I know Machrihanish often gets accolades for the best opening hole in golf, but it’s pretty tough to beat the opening hole at St. Enodoc, a par five of 528 yards, where you tee off into a wildly undulating fairway with a big set of sand dunes guarding the right side of the hole. Sounds okay so far, but once you hit your second (blind) shot over the striped pole and walk up the hill to see the green, it is a jaw dropper. You can see the massive rocky landforms in this part of Cornwall tumbling down to the beautiful blue sea. Around the hills are the gorgeous English countryside, perfectly manicured, and where the land meets the sea, there are a series of perfect wide sand beaches. A stunning opener! The course then weaves through beautiful sheep-dotted countryside playing up, down and around rolling hills. The signature hole is the 6th, a par four of 428 yards with a blind drive. It is said to contain the biggest sand bunker in Europe, and I'm not arguing the point. If you can avoid the bunker, you still have a blind shot to a punchbowl style green set in a little alcove area. It is a very, very good golf hole. The golf course is a unique one and has a collection of standout holes (one, two, four, six and ten) that give the course a cult following among those learned in golf course architecture. The course combines dramatic water views with beautiful dunes linksland right through the finish. The course is better than some of the courses in the top 100 I have played and it's a bit of a wonder to me why the course doesn't get more accolades (outside of those on this website).
Such a high ranking and so many good reviews for St Enedoc suggested I had missed something first time round in 2012. So a return and as soon as you arrive you feel a sense of anticipation with delightful clubhouse, good practice facilities and the view from the first tee.
Thought the first four holes were excellent with two quality links holes followed by two quirky par 4's. Even playing the first hole you are aware you are playing somewhere special as you can see the spectacular views of the estuary and sea beyond. The 1st, a par 5 straight into the wind, was a driver (just reached the fairway) and two woods. Hole 2 is a strong par 4 and this is followed by a difficult downhill par 4 with a serious cross wind and crosswall traversing the hole. The 4th is a fabulously quirky short par 4 with OB down the right handside.
I also thought the last four holes provided a tremendous finish (as good as any finish I have played); the short downhill 15th was only 168 yards (great view of this hole from 10th tee), but over a sort of ravine and heavily bunkered and straight into a strong wind (driver was the club for me !). Hole 16 is a quality par 5 with the estuary view all down the right hand side, then a 200 yard plus par 3 and then finished off at 18 with a tough pure links par 4.
In between the first four and last four holes (which I thought were the highlights) I also liked holes 10-12; the much talked about 10 is a real tough par 4 at 457 yards but it is a fabulous driving hole. I also thought the 206 yard 11th was a good hole partly because it was tough into the wind but also because of the sea views from the tee adjacent the famous church. You then step onto the 12th tee looking over the bay (what a location !); a pretty fair golf hole as well as you need to avoid overclubbing with the wind behind as the fairway bunkers await on the right hand side. As per my first visit I found holes 13 and 14 around the top of the church a bit of a let-down although in fairness the green complex at 14 is uniquely interesting. Holes 5-9 on the front nine were also holes I did not gell with. The famous 'Himalayas' bunker on hole 6 looked great until my decent drive ended up in a an impossible (ball above feet lie) about 2 yards off the left hand side of the fairway in some mounds, and from there par became impossible. Hole 7 was fairly nondescript but just brutal into a 4 club wind. The short 8th was equally tough, infact it felt unfairly so; heavily bunkered across the front and with strong wind behind hitting the green seemed impossible. Hole 9 was another tough par 4 with the severe crosswind.
In conclusion we thoroughly enjoyed St.Enedoc, and playing off the white tees this time it was a much better course than I could remember. Some quality links holes, some quirky holes, some fabulously entertaining holes, great driving holes, excellent course conditioning (despite the recent rain), a brutally tough par 69 (especially in the weather conditions), all in a glorious setting with stunning estuary views. Not as fair as Royal Porthcawl or Saunton and with a few weaker holes, but with similar splendour and eccentricity as Pennard (but better conditioning than here). Just a stunning location which automatically makes the trip worthwhile and I can't wait to return.
St. Enodoc was truly the highlight of my trip and one of the best courses I’ve seen in 2018. I’d characterize it as a course that really has it all and ticks all the boxes that are important for me in a round at an all-world course.
The routing is extremely varied with 18 totally unique holes played over what can often be called crazy landscape. It will have you flirting with OB, using your imagination to overcome blind shots, taking you through massive fairway moguls and even taking on heroic shots like driving the ball over a massive 50ft blow out bunker.
Plain and simple the course offers up endless fun and must be one of the most creative routings in the world. It starts and ends spectacular and in my view doesn’t have a single let up throughout the round. Even the holes running down to the famous church and back are excellent and provide excitement and challenge. 11 for example is a serious par 4 and a half and has one of the tightest feeling drives I’ve faced in a while. Essentially there is far more space than it seems but the hole doglegs sharply around the course boundary and OB to the left. Long hitters can perhaps just clear the corner where the hole opens up. The rest of us have to carefully lay up or really take on the narrowest of gaps. This looks nearly impossible from the tee but only requires more thought and carefully placed shot-making.
The holes that return up the hill around the back side of the church make excellent and very interesting use of what could be a very awkward section of the course. They were transformed into excellent holes with effective usage of angles and strong green complexes. The strong drop shot par 3 15th affords arguably the best view on the course and links the player back to the section of the course with the most dynamic natural ground movement heading back inland to the clubhouse.
Recently St. Enodoc has attained a position in our World Top 100 Courses and for me the course earns every bit of this ranking, in fact I’d ideally see it moving up even more. It’s a must-play and still given its location a bit of a hidden gem for most. I really think a golfer’s education can’t be complete without experiences like this. I will certainly happily return to the Southwest of England and St. Enodoc provides the kind of all world experience that I will be day dreaming about until the next time I’m honored to make my way around its sacred fairways.
There are few experiences in golf that can arouse as many emotions as the Church Course at Saint Enodoc.
First of all, the place itself is gorgeous, overlooking Daymer Bay and its turquoise waters that, on clear days, offer a striking contrast to the green fairways.
And, apart from that, and even above the landscape, the course, especially its first holes, manage to transport the golfer to a real carousel of emotions. Thus, from the fantastic initial par 5 the way in which each hole exceeds the previous one I can only compare it with the way in which a top chef succeeds to surprise us with every dish, making all of this a unique experience.
According to my experience, reduced to two rounds on consecutive days, the 9 holes in, except for the last 3, are clearly inferior to the first 9, and, without being bad holes at all, they fail to reach the level of the previous ones.
The round starts in a stellar fashion: a par 5 on a rugged fairway, where the second shot is blind to a gully and only once you have reached this spot can you see the green. And, from there on, the succession of spectacular holes is amazing: the 3rd is a long par 4 all the way downhill towards a green protected well behind a stone fence; the 4th consists in a strategic par 4 whose short length should not deceive us, since the danger lurks in each shot (although it is also a clear opportunity to birdie if played correctly); the 6th stands out for its gigantic Himalaya bunker; and the 8th is a short but delicious par 3.
Regarding the 6th hole, I might have found the best way to play it: a hooked drive to the left of the path allowed me the simplest of the possible second shots to the green, with a perfect view of it and from a more favorable angle. From there, an iron 8 slightly leaning to the right, before the attentive look of some hikers, allowed me for an easy but celebrated 4.
As for the controversial hole 10, maybe my personal experience determines my opinion of it (an accumulated 13 strokes in 2 days), but I found it excessively penal. It´s a hole that imposes a severe penance on the slightest sin ... perhaps the proximity of the chapel of Saint Enodoc to its green has something to do with it.
From there, the tone drops somewhat in the holes 11, 12 and 13, although the views from the 14th tee come to compensate. On the other hand, I especially liked the 14th hole and its green and, from there, the end of the round returns to take us to the linksy terrain and offers some spectacular holes: the 16th, that, due to its abrupt descent, reminded me of the 8th at Dornoch; the 17th, a brutal but charming par 3 that asks for a long and accurate tee shot, or the 18th, which is definitely at the height of the course. In fact, the second shot in this hole, to a well-defended green, was one of the most memorable moments of the round.
Maybe the only aspect that did not live up to my expectations was the condition of some fairways, something below the standard for a course of this quality, but the greens were in an impeccable form.
When comparing this course with someone else I have played, Cruden Bay comes to mind, because of the feeling of adventure that both inspire me.
Definitely, I would recommend this course to any golfer eager for a different (and more than stimulating) experience.
St Enodoc- Having made a trip to play the best of Wales a few years ago....I met a member of St Enodoc along the way. He admonished me for not going to his club, St Enodoc as it was a fantastic course in comparison to those I was playing. I set out to do just that. St Enodoc was the magnet which drew me to SW England.....And unlike so many times....It lived up to the expectations and then some. It rolls along and around a massive hillside. Several holes are just unique. As in never seen before. Having played 800 courses...St Enodoc has several holes that are absolutely unique. A par 69 seems unworthy. But a hand full of the par 4's are 450 yards or so. It is a big golf course with much challenge. Fantastic views. Several take to your grave holes and a ton of fun too. Whatever you do ...when you play the Church hole...Put your drive out to the right. The little stream running along the left is unnoticed until you have found it..A true gem. Go play it.
The first shot at St. Enodoc says it all. Surrounded by huge dunes, the line is not intuitive, but a good second takes the player over a blind narrowed fairway and voila! There sits a lovely green site framed by the mouth of the Camel estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. The land here has forced the creation of some controversial holes, most notably the short par 4 4th and the long par 4 10th both featuring pinched landing areas. I found each one more than acceptable, the former providing a generous landing area if one plays the proper tees and the latter having many options on the tee shot, including a driver into the hillside rough which generally repels the ball into the fairway.
Overall, the course provides plenty of strategic options from this tee. And the variety of approach shots available and the lovely contours on the greens met with my approval as well.
A cracking opening hole sets the scene. A course that has a huge reputation and I appreciate the overall sentiment towards this course but I reckon there are just too many uninteresting holes to get it into 6 ball territory.
The outward 9 is the best as the inward 9 contains a few average holes. The first 9 is played through great dunes but the 4th let's it down a bit. The 4th a short par 4 that has big trouble both sides feels like a filler and the par 3 5th is a tough hole if you don’t hit the green. Fall 1 foot short and you roll back over the road.
The pace picks up with some magnificent holes 6-10.
I can see why not everyone loves the 10th. Possibly the most difficult hole I have ever played. Take driver and you have 10 yards to land it on the fairway. Then getting it stay on the fairway if you have hit a long draw is another matter with a creek running up against the fairway. Best to take 4 iron to the safe part of the fairway but then you have 200 yards or so in. Tough hole, probably too tough.
Some of the holes 11-15 seem to cover similar territory – sloping land and with a left to right cross wind you really need to aim well left to have any hope of holding the fairway.
Strong finishing holes were needed and delivered. All up a course that honestly does have too many average holes to be considered 6 balls. Strip these out and the remaining 13 or so holes are fantastic. The other 6 ballers I have given (P/Porth, Western Gailes, Cruden Bay, Birkdale, Dirleton) all have some average holes but not as many, nor as average. RLSA, Carnoustie, RCP, Hillside, Formby for eg all got 5 balls so it is in great company. Warren from Aust
No need to benchmark your review against other courses you've played - it seems almost apologetic - you're entitled to your opinion (and I think 5 balls is a fair review for this course).
I agree with the fact that there are a few average holes (for me there are 11, 12, & 13).
Interesting how hole 4 polarises opinion - because Sam reviewing below held a similar opinion to you. When Tom Doak featured the 4th in his confidential guide vol. 1 as an example hole, he referred to Henry Cotton being "one of the first to sings its praises as one of the great short fours in Britain"
There isn’t a course comparable to St Enodoc. It’s sui generis. I played here last Friday after being too long away. There are some courses that grow on you and St Enodoc is one.
I always loved the front nine and the closing stretch, but felt things took a downward turn at #10 and didn’t recover until #16. I don’t know whether the 10th hole is or is not a favourite of Peter Alliss – it’s undeniably a tough par four which I managed to par for the first time on Friday after landing a five wood in the middle of the fairway bottleneck and then finding the heart of the green with a five iron. It’s a dramatic hole but the drive is too penal for my liking – the fairway is less than ten paces wide where I landed my drive.
You simply have to tip your hat to John Betjemen before you turn your back on the church and hit your tee shot on #11 – “How long it flew”. Previously I thought this was a filler of a long one-shotter, but it’s a solid hole in its own right. I also enjoyed holes #12 to #14 much more than the previous occasions I’ve played here. The greensite on #14 is stellar. What’s not to like about the 15th? We witnessed a near hole-in-one effort while standing on the 10th tee. #15 is a wonderful one-shot drop hole. The 16th runs along the Camel Estuary and it’s one of best links holes I’ve ever played.
St Enodoc is currently enjoying a renaissance and for good reasons. It is by some distance the best course in England’s South West, and its position in the World Top 100 is thoroughly deserved.
It’s a course that stirs my soul. I wish I lived a little closer – I’d beg to become a member.
By some distance?!? I loved St Enodoc but, most rankings put Saunton East above it (and i agree), and personally i think Burnham is also better,
Enodoc has some of the best holes i've ever played, but it also has some very average ones - 5 is a filler, 10,11,12,13,14 are forgettable.
Saunton you just dont get that
In my opinion Sam, most rankings that place Saunton (presumably you mean the East) ahead of St Enodoc are wrong. I love both courses at Saunton, I've played the East and West many times, in fact I played them both last Saturday, but I prefer the West to the East (the West has more variation – there are at least two too many par fours on the East course). Burnham & Berrow is a very good course but not as good as St Enodoc.
Anyway, back to St Enodoc. There are no weak holes but some are better than others, which is true of every course.
You think the 5th is a filler hole? Wow now that’s a surprise to me. I echo Thomas's opinion (see review dated 29 September 2017). It’s a gorgeous par three across a valley to a greensite benched into the hillside.
You say #10 is forgettable? Only somebody playing comatose could forget the 10th. It’s possibly the most memorable long par four in the South West – and not necessarily for all the right reasons as I mentioned in my review.
The 11th is a truly difficult par three with a burn and out-of-bounds on the left and a brace of bunkers on the right. If you can keep your card intact after 10 and 11 you’re doing remarkably well.
If you’d have said 12 and 13 are forgettable then I might have agreed with you, but how many courses can you name that have eighteen memorable golf holes? The greensite at 14 is stellar and with death on the right all the way from tee to green it’s certainly not a hole I’ll forget in a hurry.
I’ve just realised I meant the 4th hole not the 5th.
10th is memorable because it’s a poor hole. That’s not a good thing.
Obviously this is the joy of rankings, but to say the west at Saunton is better than the east is crazy! Even with the changes it’s not in the same league!
I love St Enodoc and can’t wait to go back. But id take Saunton and B&B over it
Sam, not to gang up on you here but I too just played these courses last week all in the same perfect conditions and I personally find it difficult to consider Saunton East anything but greatly overshadowed by St. Enodoc. Naturally it's a fine course and has the ability to be stretched out to championship caliber but the variation and interest in holes, landscape and pure architecture is not to be compared with St. Enodoc which most certainly is deserving of it's World Top 100 status. Burnham & Berrow as well is a strong course but also falls well short of St. Enodoc's stature though I do find it much more interesting than Saunton.
Why not jump in the action ! I played St. Enodoc as well as both courses at Saunton two years ago. I have to agree with Keith. St.Enodoc is an absolute treasure. I realize that 10-14 is a controversial stretch but I found that those holes tested my nerve as well as my skill. I also agree with Keith about the West course at Saunton, which I think is very underrated. Alas this discussion is similar to a beauty pageant where all three contestants are beautiful and we trying to sort out the subjective points that make one of the contestants more beautiful than the other. I would play all three courses as often as I could if I lived in the area (which would not be a bad idea at all).
The 4th is a great strategic hole and makes good use of the corner of the property. If that’s a filler hole then no wonder this is a 6 ball course!
If you don't mind I'll stick my oar in. Having just played the links around the area my initial impressions are Saunton East is the best in the area followed by P/Porth with Saunton West, B&B and Enodoc just behind those. Within this website I read some insightful comments about golf course management preferring to get feedback from members rather than one hit wonders like myself. This is very valid but for the sake of it Saunton East gets my vote in this pageant.
I am quite suprised by Sam's comments about filler/forgettable holes. It is these very holes and more (3, 4, 6, 10 & 14) which provide St Enodoc's extraordinary character. The only hole mentioned which I think to be less than stellar is the 13th. It is obvious the club believes the hole lacks something because it has been worked on a few times. I do, however, lament the loss of the old 16th green near the property boundary. It made for a wonderful risky second if going for home. For mine, St Enodoc is comfortably the best course in the West Country and that is down to using the land as given. Although, I am very fond of Perranporth also because the land was used as given, making the results unique. Perhaps James Braid should be given more design accolades! Saunton East on the other hand is very, very good, but vanilla compared to the others. It is the sort of course where one could think he has seen the holes somewhere else. One thing is for certain, the West Country is one of the premier GB&I golf areas whether overseas travellers know it or not.