- +44 (0) 1208 862200
4 miles NW of Wadebridge
Contact in advance – handicap certificate required
Some Cornish folk regard Cornwall not as a county of England, but a Celtic independent province. We'll simply say that Cornwall is a beautiful part of Britain, 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.
"Seaside Golf" by John Betjemen
How straight it flew, how long it flew,
And down the fairway, far along
And so I did. It lay content
Ah! Seaweed smells from sandy caves
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.
Following a course audit report from Tom Doak in 2017, the club cleared the scrub area to the left of the 10th fairway, revealing very watery underfoot conditions on this problematic hole. Tees on the 1st, 5th and 10th holes were also levelled, along with expanding several other teeing areas to cope with additional visitor footfall experienced during the busy summer months.
How anyone can write something negative about this course is beyond me.
St.Enedoc is without a doubt the best golf course I have ever played. There's not much more to say. If you are a keen golfer and want to not only play a world class track but also have a genuine experience then St.Enedoc is the place you need to go to. Every hole was pretty much breathtaking.
If you get to play this course on a sunny day there really won't be much better in the UK.
I’m surprised by some of the comments on this course. I played it yesterday and thought it was fantastic. A quirky, challenging, beautiful course. I prefer other types of courses to links. However, one of the comments I said to my friend was “where is there not a dramatic hole”. Greens had recent course maintenance on but this is absolutely one you’ve got to play in Cornwall
This is a Marmite course. You either embrace the handful of "different" holes, or not.
The Positives. Classic links turf with greens in good condition and well kept bunkering. Some very good links holes winding their way up and down the coastline. The views over the Camel are fabulous and rival those at Bamburgh and the Mourne Mountains as a backdrop to RCD. Clubhouse is ticks all the right boxes and all the staff are super-friendly. Nick Williams has been the Pro since 1981 and there is a board to the main reception area wall with the names of the 5 or 6 Pro's appointed over the last 130 years. A really nice touch.
The Negatives. Hole 3 is 436 yards blind downhill par 4. A 5 iron from the tee ended up over the road at the bottom and 4 feet from a wall. I walked off with a par shaking my head. It's daft and dangerous for any walkers/vehicles travelling blind along the road. The 4th is a 290 yard par 4 uphill with no chance of trying to get close to the green from the tee. I hit 8 iron from the tee to middle of sloping fairway and just had a lie in the semi to play into the green. The 6th is a 378 yard par 4 with a large sand-dune with a huge bunker ("The Himalaya"). I hit down the lhs and had a relatively straightforward 9 iron over the side of this sand-dune. I can see others loving the quirkiness, but not me. My scorecard note on the SI 1 hole, a 457 yard par 4 just says "crazy!" After waiting more than 10 minutes for various groups of walkers to clear, I hit 3 wood and 7 iron. And this by fortune rather than skill turned out to be perfect. There is no obvious fairway to aim for from the tee. I saw previous and successive groups hunting for balls on the hillside to the right of the fairway. Holes 12 and 13 are weak and out of character with the rest of the course. The last I parred from the 1st fairway - some internal OB's down the lhs would toughen this up and better protect those playing the 1st hole.
It was an incredibly slow round. The course was rammed but it was the regular appearance of walkers that drove me close to despair. One lady with a dog (after I had waited a few minutes for a succession of other walkers) walked across the path approx 175 yards in front of the 12th tee and then waved at me and walked directly towards me. She then proceeded past me without a word and headed down to the beach. All she had to do was stop on the path and wait 20 seconds for me to hit. Instead I had to wait 5 minutes + for her to amble-by. I spent 25-30 minutes standing around waiting for walkers to clear. I doubt I will be returning to St Enodoc and having played 80 out of the current Top 100 in GB&I, there is no way this course gets in a World T100 list put together by an experienced panel.
Tim, that's an interesting review of a course that personally I love and have easily in my World Top 100. Which means little and is proof of nothing. Not science but my subjective opinion. I know a ton of people that don't care for the Old Course in St. Andrews and even more less charmed about Muirfield and plenty that believe both are the best courses in the world. You also have to deal with pedestrians at the Old Course and at many other classic links because the land is not private and the public has free access to cross to beaches. If you've played a lot in the UK which it sounds like you have, then I'm surprised that this is such a shock for you. Were you playing alone on this busy day as a single? As to the despair of hitting fairway woods and irons off 400+ yds par 4's then having short irons into the greens, I'm going to sleep on how rough that must be. There are plenty of courses for bombers, plenty of long championship layouts to test the best players in the world, those could possibly float your boat more than a classic, quirky links designed by two of the greatest architects of all time in Braid and Simpson.
I would say that in the roughly 650 courses I have played including the world top 100 I've never once been so unlucky to stand on a single tee box waiting for that amount of time and spending what must of been 30+ minutes on a hole, waiting, watching previous and successive groups search for balls including 10 minutes for walkers to clear. That admittedly might have turned me off as well. Bummer you didn't have a better experience. It's a shame you wasted a day clearly irritated and frustrated at such a special place though, I can't say that I can relate to that but if I ever end up in that space I may well be reconsidering my choice of sports.
Apols for not being clear DD. I spent a total of close on 30 mins waiting across the whole course (including the 10th). The hanging around was irritating but that doesn’t skew my view that St E as a course doesn’t get in my T50 in GB&I. But I can quite see it does it for those who love something different. Vive la difference!
I’m with Tim. The inexperienced panel who put this list together should go away & take a long hard look at themselves. Incorporating waiting time and prevalence of dog walkers as key course rating criteria is a no brainer and long overdue
Although I've long since learned that "BB" stands for "baiting bums (like me)," I'm going to take his bait and run with it.
I think Tim has scratched the surface on a factor that doesn't get enough address in any rankings system...the belief that "best" correlates to "universal appreciation." This is a major flaw in the Golf Digest system — in my opinion — in that its rankings are assembled by the mean average of all its raters. This is a major disservice to more bold, dare I say experimental courses. Stateside I am thinking of Sweetens Cove and Tobacco Road, which divide audiences between adoration and disdain. It's akin to the arguments I had with my grandmother about opera: She was a fan of the Italian Bel Canto, which indeed is very pretty but, again in my opinion, boring. I prefer atonal composers such as Schoenburg and Berg, which is less predictable and, understandably, polarizing. But were either I or my grandmother incorrect in stating that the respective compositions were brilliant? No.
I think Pete Dye would be appalled if he knew how widely-appreciated his courses are. One does not make art so bold as to be universally beloved...maybe 65% beloved.
So how do we accommodate for this in rankings? I don't know, but have fun Top100 staff!
Ryan almost lost this uncultured barbarian by using an Opera analogy. His very valid comment was exactly 20 years after the release of Nevermind - so he might have shown me some pity & gone with something there. But I think he was wisely taking into account the higher mean average age & intellect of a golfer when trying to get his point across.
For me St Enodoc may be one such experimental course - or “marmite” to use Tim’s regional metaphor (note to US readers: It means you either love it or hate it” - think Hillary Clinton but spread on toast).
However, do the marmite levels at St Enodoc leave one caught between a Rock & a hard place - i.e. an unsatisfactory or even unpleasant situation where we feel people are either over or under-rating the course and therefore not capturing “the truth”? I’ll come back to that question if I remember to.
Ryan’s own scratched surface on how courses are rated makes me think that various lists could clearly publish the methodology in how they reached their verdicts. This transparency would allow golfers to prioritise the ones that best reflects their own personal values. Just like choosing to purchase from companies that either do/do not harm dolphins.
A listing could perhaps take a page out of the world handicap system playbook by using the average of the best 8 reviews/scores from the last 20 reviewers/raters. This approach works for my experimental golf swing & could be applicable to evaluating the merits of polarizing courses like Sweetens Cove & Tobacco Road in a more unified manner. Because one things for sure: 3 & 4 ball reviews of St Enodoc should be ignored
Highly ranked again, but for me it was nowhere near as good as the rank would suggest. The layout etc is pretty nice, but some holes are just not there, play is mega slow.
For links golf, you will find much better golf for less money and lower down the rankings. The turf and conditions were good, so the staff look to be doing a good job.
3 – Par (Average) – A standard course with a couple of noteworthy holes and fairly maintained
There are some days in golf where everything falls perfectly into place and you could happily settle on that day being your golfing Groundhog Day. St Enedoc may just be that day for me.
On a beautiful summer’s day, 16 of us made our way to the jewel in Cornwall’s golfing crown, the Church course at St Enedoc. St Enedoc is a place that oozes class. We were met with a warm reception, made to feel very welcome by both the club and its members and after a brief introduction on the opening tee, we were off into the dunes to experience one of England’s finest Links Courses.
The Church course sits on an envious property overlooking the Camel Estuary with views of Padstow and Hawker’s Cove. 18 holes at St Enedoc is a real feast for the eyes, for these views are coupled with some stunning and varied golf holes. This starts from the very 1st, where you met with the wildly undulating fairway of a cracking opening Par 5. The opening set of holes are a treat, with the 3rd being a particular highlight and a very picturesque Par 4. A blind drive played over a dune with a downhill approach shot over a cobbled wall to a small green. The 6th is the most pictured hole on the course with a semi blind tee shot that asks you to lay up short of a 75 foot sand dune with the famed Himalaya bunker imbedded. It obstructs views of the green and a mid-iron must be played on trust to find the green in regulation.
After a very strong opening 9, you are met with an extremely challenging but picturesque 10th. From an elevated tee shot, you must thread the eye of the needle to find the fairway, avoiding a ravine that runs the length of the hole on the left and a fescue covered dune on the right. The slither of fairway snakes all the way to the green that resides alongside the eponymous Church. If you par this hole, run to the next tee box and don’t look back.
The standard of the course drops a little around the Church, in fact holes 12 and 13 are weak and completely out of character with the rest of the course. They offer great views from the most elevated part of the course, but are forgetful and bland. After this momentary lull, you thrown back into the excellence of the course from 15 – 18 with one of the best closing stretches on these shores. The 16th is my personal favourite hole on the course. A Par 5 that plays right along the Camel Estuary. It is mentioned in George Peper’s “World’s 500 Greatest Golf Holes” and I can see why. It’s a true links Par 5 with the green set within a dune and views of the beach spanning the entire 551 yards. It’s serene and calming and hole I’d never tire of playing.
Our day was topped off with Rosé in the sun on the veranda overlooking the 1st tee and 18th green. We had the pleasure of seeing Luke Donald tee off and he even had time for a chat with us before we left. We had the most superb dinner in the St Enedoc Hotel, washed down with plenty of vino and after the 7th chorus of “Sweet Caroline” on the coach back to the hotel I thought “this would be a fabulous Groundhog Day”
For all photos of reviews, please follow Chris’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/top.100.golf/
What a stunner, I can clearly see why it ranks in the top 100 courses in the world, oozes absolute class with every hole memorable, definitely goes into my top 5 courses played so far. Stunning views over the bay and a charming church in the middle of the back 9.
The 6th and 10th holes for me were the best of an excellent layout but just personal preference. Excellent value for money compared to many of the top courses and I have to say a fabulous friendly welcome across all aspects of the club.
Played here on day 3 of a 7 day south coast (ish) tour of England and of the 8 courses we played this was the best. Sometimes you get to a golf course and everything just clicks, you play well, the conditions are perfect, the flow around the course keeps moving, the course has appealing holes and this is very much how I felt at St Enodoc.
I won't run a hole by hole guide but 1 through 10 are top notch with 3, 6, 9 and 10 being the best in my mind. Hitting a 5 iron down 6 and then 9 iron over the bunker to 6 foot from the pin could only have been made better if I had made the putt and hitting 3 wood down the middle followed by 5 iron on to the green to 20 foot on 10 could have only been made better if I had made the putt.
After 10, 11 is a nice par 3 and 12 and 13 aren't bad just not to level of others. 14 is a "don't go right" tee shot followed by a quirky green. Then 15 and 17 are the best two par 3s on the course, 16 is a cracking par 5 and 18 is as good a finishing hole as you can get.
I didn't play the Holywell but then that is now just a good excuse to go back and while doing that give the Church another go. Look out for the yardages on the sprinklers some of them are quite amusing, particularly on 10.
Nothing but a 6 ball for me. Links is my favorite golf and this was as good as anywhere.
We played St Enodoc on a very special April day with the sun shining from a peerless blue sky and scarcely a puff of wind. The tide was out so you could see the Camel estuary in the middle distance stretching over to Padstow and glistening layers of golden sand.
I was reminded of the immortal words of John Betjeman after I struck my shot on the opening tee;
‘A glorious, sailing, bounding drive
That made me glad I was alive’.
Previous reviewers have written about every hole on the golf course so I won’t go into such detail. Sufficient to say, is there a more scenic place to play the game in the British Isles on such a beautiful day?
The golf course is unorthodox with a bewildering array of holes and the front nine is to my mind as good as it gets. There is then a lull around the famous Church, after which the course is named and where Poet Laureate Betjeman is buried. However it comes to life again over the last four holes, culminating in a quite magical finishing hole in front of the Clubhouse.
St Enodoc is rated in England’s Top Ten golf courses on this website and is in my view the best in the South-West narrowly ahead of the more orthodox East Course at Saunton. It is a magnificent venue at which to play the game and in perfect weather a tough and utterly thrilling challenge.
I would like to start my review with one statement. St Enodoc golf club is my favourite course that I’ve ever played. Is it the best? No. Portrush and Turnberry are the ‘best’ courses that I’ve ever played, but without any hesitation this is my favourite.
To start I’d like to challenge anyone who believes that the club is stuffy or stuck up. Nothing could be more untrue. We arrived on a beautiful summers day and everyone was out on the decking, enjoying some food and a drink, there were dogs of many different breeds sticking close to their owners and the clubhouse was modern and low-key. It’s a great members club, everyone’s up for a laugh and pricing is very reasonable. In fact, for a mid-August round on a world top 100 we paid £95 which included range balls as well.
So, onto the course. The one word that springs to mind is character, it’s oozing of the stuff! Every hole is unique, quirky, challenging and, most importantly, very fun to play. It’s the only course I’ve played where I can remember each hole vividly in order without having to really think about it. Portrush, for example, is a great course set in the dunes but after 8 holes I can’t remember which hole is which and in what order they come in. Unfortunately, this is the same with every other links course I’ve played to date- great holes and setting but just a bit forgettable at times. But not St Enodoc.
The first is an amazing opener, the land it lies on takes your breath away- so undulating with towering dunes overshadowing both sides of the 1st and 18th fairway. When I say undulating, I don’t mean ripples, I’m talking about a full rollercoaster of a fairway. You walk up and down and over the dunes that have been cut down to form fairways. There are no bunkers on this hole, just the natural defence of the classic links style humps and hollows that you have to precisely navigate over.
As you stand on the 2nd tee, your only reaction is “wow”. The beautiful estuary that is visible from nearly every hole combined with the moon -like landscape that you stand on makes you naturally reach for your camera or just stare in admiration. The second is long, tough and beautifully framed by the dunes - a cracking par 4!
The third forces you to drive over the most undulating fairway I’ve ever seen and then onto the playing surface that doglegs around some of the ‘Himalaya’ dunes (yes, they really are as big as they sound!) the second shot takes on a wall, a road and onto the very small green. As I said, just full of character!!
Many people have written about the 4th so I’ll keep it brief but what a great example of a risk and reward hole, just fantastic and a real thinker of a hole!
The par 3’s here are all of a very high standard, the 5th forces you to carry over a large ravine and water hazard (very rare for a links course) and onto a well guarded green.
I won’t say much about the 6th, all you need to do is google the hole to understand what the whole course is about in general. It’s mental, quirky and once again oozes the character of this course.
The next few holes continue to use the natural terrain to their advantage which I really praise about this course. If there’s a dune, play over it - don’t start thinking they would just bulldozer it down for your personal taste!
My only critique about this course is the 8th hole. Just a personal opinion but the bunkers feel forced for some reason. Placing all those pot bunkers around the green just looses a bit of character, it doesn't stick with the natural feel of the course - just one or two deep pot bunkers would’ve done the trick!
10 is possible the greatest golf hole I’ve ever played. Not much else needs to be said. It’s just amazing. I guess it’s the fact that they would never build a hole like this nowadays and also the fact that no other course in the world would try something as unique as what James Braid did with this hole. Place a hundred bunkers around the fairway, put a lake in front of the green or even make the green as undulating as possible - nothing you can do will beat the difficulty and greatness of the 10th at St Enodoc.
You then enter a different sector of the course which could be seen as a breather. Many don’t like the fact that the course moves away from the dunes and onto a more ‘parkland landscape’. I’d disagree. For me, it just adds to the uniqueness of the place and saves any hole from becoming too similar.
I please urge anyone who plays the 12th to play from the back tees. You are literally playing from the beach with sunbathers and holiday - makers all around you. Yes it’s a little strange for the first time player but I promise you that it’s like no tee box you’ve ever played from before.
The 12th is a classic links hole with great bunkering and an upturned plate of a green. This is the only hole that I’d call a ‘classic’ links golf hole.
Are the 13th and 14th boring? No. Are they as dramatic as the previous holes you’ve played? Also no. Does that make them underwhelming? Possibly but only if you don’t appreciate the beautiful design of these holes. The views are what make them special; not only do you look over the whole course but the estuary and beaches that boarder the course. Simply breathtaking.
The final stretch is also the best I’ve ever played. Two stunning par 3’s (one over water from a highly elevated green and the other a 200yrd uphill brute surrounded huge dunes) the par 5 16th is once again just beautiful. Tumbling fairways, pot bunkers scattered around the green and the ocean only a lob wedge from the fairway! The 18th is simply put the perfect finisher for this course and also the best closing hole I’ve ever played. Play from the white/back tees to get the elevated tee shot and the best view on the course. The hole rises through the dunes and to the clubhouse. The bunkers around this green are brutal and can really ruin your score if you end up in one. If you’ve managed to keep your round together by the time you’ve reached the 18th, I really wouldn’t start relaxing - if you’ve ever thought of playing golf on the moon, here’s your closest alternative and it brings every challenge of the hole course into one final hole.
Overall, as you can probably tell, I am in love with this place. I’ve played ‘the best in the world’ but nothing has made me so emotionally attached to a golf course after 1 round than St Enodoc has. My only real complaint would be the bunkers; I just prefer the revetted style of bunker and really look forward to them when going to any links course. I’ve been blessed with these when going to Turnberry and Royal Liverpool so I guess I would just love to see more of them at St Enodoc. They do have them, but just not on every bunker so hopefully this will be changed in the future to further push the links experience.
I will say it once again and probably say it forever, this is my favourite golf course in the world and I plead to any golfer who likes quirky courses to make the trip to Cornwall and play this course.
Played this on 15 Sep having spent the previous day walking round the various public footpaths crossing the course to whet my appetite. From what I could see on a clear sunny day, expectations were high.
Playing mid afternoon, £10 for a range token, course guide and ball marker seemed pretty reasonable, and I was sent on my way by a friendly starter who offered some sage advice about the relatively small greens... Don't miss them!
I played off the whites which only added a couple of hundred yards but a number of better, more challenging tee shots on 4, 5, 7 and 11.
After an average starting hole, a couple of strong par 4s follow with testing approaches (one raised, one downhill). The fourth is an excellent uphill short par 4 requiring a tee shot over OOB to work the best angle to pitch. Narrowing as you get closer, with a destructive slope left and a stone wall marking OOB on right, driver is definitely a risky play.
The rest of the front nine contain some good but not overly memorable holes, the exception being the 6th requiring a blind approach over the enormous Himalaya bunker to a green cut into the hill. 10 is a fantastic challenge, SI1 with a penalty area and OOB running all the way down the left. It doglegs left and requires two similar length shots of around 225 yards if you're to make the green with the church looming large (along with a host of walkers) to the right of the green. 11 is a great long par 3 played towards the sea before you turn round and head back by playing an attractive looking drive up a slight hill on the right to left dogleg 12th. But this is where I think the course loses it's way for a few holes. 13 and 14 are fairly bland uphill holes played across a left to right slope on land above the 10th and making you wish you were playing that again. 15 although a good looking mid length par 3 from an elevated tee is very similar to the 5th. In fact, the two holes are played in the same direction and almost next to each other.
The round is saved by a strong finish with 16, 17 and 18. All long and challenging par 5, 3 and 4 respectively, played through and framed by large dunes. The view of the estuary (to your right) as you play 16 is as good a coastal view I've seen playing links golf in the UK.
Worth also pointing out that the greens were disappointing - slow (verging on turgid) and somewhat bumpier than expectations based on playing links golf on other premium courses (but also for the £95 green fee). For early September, no signs of recent green's work and several days of having a light wind (so not needing to be slow) I'd describe them as average club standard at best. Even just accepting I may have visited on an off day with the greens, half a dozen average or lesser holes highlighted by the quality of the others for me, prevents a higher rating. Don't get me wrong, it's an excellent course with great views but not quite in the same league as places like Dornoch and Royal St George's.