On the north Cornwall coast lies the olde worlde fishing village of Padstow and Rick Stein’s famous seafood restaurant. There’s plenty of action going on in this neck of the woods, including offshore shark fishing. And, there’s also plenty of excitement at Trevose Golf and Country Club, located a little further south, along the Atlantic coastline at Constantine Bay. With dramatic views across the golden sandy shore of Boobys Bay to the rugged coastline of Trevose Head, it’s sheer drama.
Founded in 1926, the great Harry Colt designed the Championship course at Trevose, and Sir Guy Campbell made minor revisions just before the Second World War. It’s an exhilarating windswept links where little else other than dune grasses survives in the bleakness.
Trevose is a stern test of golf, especially when the wind is up. There are four teeing areas to choose from, and the par 72 (73 for the ladies) links stretches out to a stern 7,172 yards from the back tees. The crumpled fairways are generous in width and the rough is kept short to keep up the speed of play and prevent too many lost balls.
Some regard Trevose as holiday golf, but the course is technically challenging and will test the very best golfers. The course record of 66 stands as a testament to its level of difficulty. Birdie opportunities are there for the taking on the three short par fives, but make the most of it because many of the par fours are aggressive and supremely challenging. Five of them stretch out over 400 yards.
The short holes are also memorable and exciting, especially the 3rd, measuring 166 yards and the 199-yard 11th, with its two-tiered plateau green. The photogenic par five 4th hole is renowned for its glorious greensite location, set hard against Boobys Bay, but many felt the hole failed to live up to its spectacular backdrop.
In 2016, as part of Mackenzie and Ebert’s masterplan, the 4th was overhauled with new tees, bunkers and a massive new undulating green. The club is clearly not content to rest on its laurels. Seven holes have already been extensively reworked. In 2018 work on the 14th, 15th and 16th completed, which included bunker modifications, extensive green surrounds work and the opening up of bare sand areas to rejuvenate habit and add interest to this trio of rather dull holes.
Some excellent facilities accompany the testing Championship course and there’s a very pleasant nine-hole course, designed by Peter Alliss, called the Headland. This shorter course is an nice warm-up ahead of Trevose's real Championship challenge.
In the five years I lived just west of London, I was told repeatedly by neighbor that if I ever went to Cornwall that I must play the championship course at Trevose. I never did play there even though I made it to Cornwall.
But a year ago I finally made a point of including this H.S. Colt design on a trip to the west of England. I did not find that Trevose quite lived up to what that father had said, but I thought it to be pretty good. It is a championship golf course and one can see why the course hosts some regional competitive events as well as being a good choice for a society day.
Looking at the rankings for Cornwall, it appears I have played the top three. I remember watching a European Tour event at St. Mellion when I lived in England and thinking that it was not a course that interested me. As for the top three in Cornwall, I believe the Church course at St. Enodoc to be a world top 100 golf course. There appears to be a difference of opinion as to which is second. Since I have already ranked Perranporth, (although promising to return at some point), I view Trevose as the second best. While Perranporth is more natural and more fun due to its views, hillier terrain, blind shots, and uniqueness, Trevose offers the better test of golf. James Braid did an excellent job routing Perranporth, but H. S. Colt was afforded more land for his routing leading to the opportunity to create holes offering different lengths and angles. In addition, Colt added stronger defenses through more bunkers, more variety in the green complexes and more interesting greens. Perranporth’s greens sit on natural tilts or shelves but are typically one-dimensional. Trevose’s greens are more undulating as well as tilted while varying more in shape and size. Trevose does not have as many weak holes and ends on a good hole unlike the eighteenth at Perranporth which is a poor finisher.
If I were to sum them up, a round at Perranporth resulted in me having more of a “joyous feeling,” while Trevose offered more “thinking,” simply because the greens are superior. It depends on which type of course one prefers. One cannot go wrong with either choice as there are merits for each one. In terms of which one I would play more often, I would split them equally, although if I am including the opportunity for nice views for the post-round recap, the clubhouse/bar at Trevose would sway me in that direction. Both are well worth a game.
I do like how the white tees at Trevose provides a nice day out for the average to higher index golfer while the championship tees offer a challenge for the longer and better player. From either tee, as a links course the speed of the wind will dictate the scoring.
We played a mixture of tees on the front nine (championship tees on 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9) and the white tees on the inward nine so 6700 yards. We did this because the holes looked better from the back tees as well as to better balance the yardage. It was a sunny, relatively calm day. The pace of play was average which I did not mind as it gave me time to look at the course. I was able to walk to many of the back tees and have a look at what better/longer players would face in a competition. We did not have the rain and light fog that I had for the start of Perranporth but it was a similar light wind. Like many links courses, I imagine Trevose would be very difficult in a high wind.
I had a round similar to Perranporth in that I played well even when I missed a green. I played the front nine in -2 but helped by saving par a couple of times. For the entire round, I was able to get a good sense of the recovery shots as our foursome missed a fair number of greens throughout the round, landed in rough on tee shots and approach shots, and were in numerous bunkers both off the tee and greenside. The fairways are generous from the white tees and still feel relatively wide from those championship tees. Being able to advance the ball pretty far is very possible from most poorly struck tee shots. Many of the greens are large. Recovery for a chance at bogey is also possible if one has their bunker/chipping game in order. Because of the speed of the greens, we only had a couple of three putts among us. The routing for the tees and greens takes good advantage of the hills and the rises and falls throughout the property, although a fair number of holes are relatively flat.
My one critique on the routing is whether the third hole should have played uphill into the dunes behind the second green even though I really liked the third hole.
I thought the best holes to be #1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 12 and 18.
The first hole is a par 4 from an elevated tee playing downhill offers a nice view of much of the golf course all the way to the bay. There is a hill on the right that can create a blind shot to the green with sits surrounded by hills left and right. Three fairway bunkers sit just in front of the hill creating a narrower lane for the drive. There are no bunkers at the green and it does not need them. It is a nice starting hole.
The second is either a good hole or an easy hole depending on the tee. The tees are elevated on this straight par 4 which plays either 425/375. Given the run on the ball the back tee is better as the hole plays shorter than the yardage. The important bunkers to avoid are the ones fronting the large green.
Three is a nice mid-length par 3 playing from an elevated tee over a valley to a green on a rise that has grass bunkers left and three deep bunkers on the right with a substantial fall off. The green is nicely undulated with several tilts and a bowl in the middle.
Four is the “picture” hole because it plays inland from Constantine Bay and ends near Booby’s Bay Beach. It is a par 5 dogleg left played from an elevated tee around higher dunes on the left. Bunkers are well placed on the turn in the dogleg with a large one on the left first and others on the right. There is another bunker short and two fronting the green which tilts back to front. It is a pretty hole but a fairly easy hole if one finds the fairway on the tee shot. If one misses the fairway and finds a decent lie, one has a high probability of still having a chance at birdie. The better miss on the tee shot is to the right as the land is more rugged down the left side. It is a decent hole from the back tee at 504 yards but from the white tees at 465 it is perhaps too easy on a calmer day.
Five is a very good hole. The tee is the closest one will get to the beach on this long, sharp dogleg left par 4 with out-of-bounds or real trouble down the left side. Missing the fairway to the right still leaves one with a chance to save par. The green is elevated with a false front. There are no bunkers on the hole. Four is the easiest hole on the course and five is rated the second hardest even though the yardages are somewhat similar.
Six is a shorter par 4 playing to a rumpled fairway with well-placed bunkers and an “apostrophe” green created by a bunker pinching in from the right. A mound of grass fronts the green.
Seven is a very good dogleg left par 4 due to the excellent green complex with three large bunkers and a fall off behind the green to a burn. The green has a lot of undulations within its tilt back to front and raised at the front. Six and seven are substantially better holes from the championship tees.
The eighth is a nice mid-length slightly uphill par 3 well bunkered with three deep bunkers on the left and rough/high grass on the right as it falls steeply down with two separated depressions. One could argue this hole is as good as the third but I thought the circular green on eight was not quite as strong as the green on three.
The par 5 ninth has an elevated tee providing a good look at the entirety of the hole and much of the golf course. Much like the second, bunkers are scattered as you make your way up the fairway with the green sitting on a plateau. It is a good hole from the championship tees, but from the white tees at 450 yards it is weak.
Another par 5 kicks off the back nine playing again from an elevated tee downhill with a burn on the right side crossing the fairway 150 yards from the front of the green. The green sits down a bit fronted by two bunkers but with some serious undulations to it.
I really like the long par 3 eleventh sitting up above the halfway house playing over lower ground to a raised green level with the white tee (the championship tee is elevated). Three round, deep bunkers guard the very tilted green with a false front. Par is a well-earned score on this hole.
Twelve is the number one index as a long par 4 that has a steady climb to the green. It is a slight dogleg left with bunkers on the left side of the turn. The rough is not difficult on this hole and the fairway is generous. I found this to be one of the more interesting greens on the course.
Thirteen is the longest hole on the course, a par 5 over 570 yards from either the white or championship tee. A burn on the left comes into play on the second shot where the land falls down a bit. There is good bunkering for the tee shot as well as fronting the green. Thankfully, the green is one of the easier ones as it is in sections but each section is relatively long.
One might think the fourteenth, a short par 4, a sharp dogleg left of 330 yards to be one of the weaker holes on the golf course. As it was the first time I played the hole, I chose the wrong club off the tee, hit into a fairway bunker, hit the next into one of the three greenside bunkers, took two to escape that bunker, and doubled the hole. Yet the ability to choose the correct club for the tee shot to navigate the many fairway bunkers while not going out-of-bounds to the left is what makes this hole strategic if you take on too much risk. One could argue, just hit a hybrid, 9 iron…..
Fifteen is a weaker hole, a flat short par 4 although it is well bunkered over the rumpled fairway to the front of the green.
Sixteen is the turn back to the clubhouse as a very long par 3 of 240/206. The hole is fairly straightforward with grass bunkers being the more important defense to avoid. It is not a “fun” hole as one truly has to concentrate here.
Seventeen is a shorter par 4 from the whites but a sturdy one from the back tees. The three bunkers to the right of the fairway and a ridge on the left are the obstacles for the drive. The green has a burn against its front to stop those tempted to try to run a ball onto the green. I liked the hole.
The finishing par 4 is a brute no matter which tee one plays (478/430) as it plays uphill crossing the entrance road. The green sits elevated on a hill fronted by some difficult bunkers. Missing the green to the left means you fall below the height of the green while missing it to the right on the side of the hill will result in a speedy downhill chip. There is out-of-bounds behind the green. It is a hole designed to settle a stroke play event, but not necessarily a match given it’s 4 index.
I do think Trevose is a better golf course from the championship tees at 7172 than the white tees because it converts a couple of short par 4’s into long dogleg par 4’s. These holes seem more natural from the back tees. It terms of the nine’s, the front nine is superior to the back nine from a visual and interest standpoint as the fairways are a bit more rolling and there are a few hills/dunes. The back nine has more challenge to it from the additional length (210 yards from the white tees). The par 3’s and par 5’s are better on the back nine. The green complexes I felt were about the same. Had I played the championship tees for the entirety of the round, I might find myself adding another half ball to the rating.
Unlike Perranporth the wildest aspect of Trevose is the drive to the clubhouse along the single lane roads that are often bordered by very high hedges. Meet a freight truck or two coming in the opposite direction and waking up at the wheel is the first thing that happens. If you are lucky you back up to the nearest turn out to let them by.
The course itself is much more straightforward and open. A recent renovation by Mackenzie and Ebert has Trevose in top shape. Bunkers have all been renovated and the most common attribute is the significant change in their style to the more modern natural blowout type bunkers. These look good in the dunes landscape.
On the front the par 3 third hole is a true standout played from a dune to a green nestled into the side of another and guarded by a large right front bunker. The par 4 6this their signature hole and the green on this hole has been moved back as far as possible to the corner of the beach and sea. The renovation looks excellent.
The front 9 is definitely the stronger of the two nines and has the most diverse and dynamic holes.
The back 9 plays over more subtle land and while it doesn’t have a single weak hole there are also no significant stand outs, just solid golf with more gentle nuances. A fun and fair test which when played from the back tees with some wind can easily become a severe test.
Trevose- Prior to arrival at this magical place you have visions of big breaking waves crashing near your play. There are great views to this and great views to big dunesland….but they are just views. The adjacent property is of a grand scale. Trevose navigates thru a nice links land but sits in the shadows of the adjacent property. You feel like you are on a newer course, but know you are walking Harry Colt grounds. The course is very good. It is of championship caliber. The vast lands available also acknowledge that if they choose to they could stretch this course out for championship play. This is a must play in the area and a course which will attack your entire game.
Compared to its neighbouring links courses (West Cornwall through to St Enodoc) Trevose is a different kettle of fish. On much flatter land it’s a classic case of what you see is what you get. There is no trickery, blindshots etc and there is plenty of opportunity to give the driver a nudge. The opening holes play close to some nice dunes but the rest of the course is quite flat.
It’s difficult to compare to St Enodoc as they play so differently. Trevose is more of a championship design and I would imagine it would get more serious tournaments than St Enodoc .
The greens are large and smooth, fairways quite generous, rough dry and wispy and all up you should score well here if you get the benign conditions presented to me. The bunkers were interestingly placed. On still days I would imagine they trap the serious player from the blue markers but a decent player from whites, and especially yellows should be able to easily clear most of them. In windy conditions bunkers could be anywhere and be in business.
A very enjoyable round and comparable to somewhere like the New Course/Luffness New design wise but I can’t say whether it’s better than St Enodoc as it’s an apple and Enodoc an orange. Warren from Aust
With the exception of Perranporth (which I last played eighteen months ago) I’ve replayed all of Cornwall’s coastal courses in the last three months. I was especially keen to see Trevose again after the renovation work that’s being undertaken by Tom Mackenzie.
Despite its Brabazon credentials and its gorgeous setting, I’ve never really warmed to Trevose. It’s a long course that can be stretched to nearly 7,200 yards from the blue tees, but it has always felt like holiday golf.
Sadly the new raised green on the signature par five 4th hole was out of play last Thursday, it played to a temporary green. The new fourth green looks excellent and I’m sure it will cement this hole’s place as the best on the Championship card.
The club is working hard with Natural England to clear the scrub from the dunes. The work in progress is to be commended but unfortunately there isn’t quite enough duneland to go round the whole property.
The new irregularly shaped, rugged bunkering has improved the aesthetics on many holes, but to my eyes these new traps don’t yet look completely at home. Hopefully in time they will settle into their surroundings. Currently there’s a mix of revetted and rugged bunkering in play and the plan is to remove all revetted traps and return the course to its apparent former rugged look by 2019. It’s seems a shame to lose the excellent revetted traps as their sharp lines suit my eye better in this relatively gentle landscape.
Something was required to breathe life into the flat and uninspiring holes on the backside (14-16). These are much better now with the new traps adding focal definition and strategy.
I’m still not a fan of Trevose, despite all the good work. Maybe once the programme has completed next year I’ll warm to it. There’s no quirk here, unlike Trevose’s Cornish counterparts at St Enodoc, West Cornwall, Perranporth and Bude. It’s hard to know what strategy the club is aiming at. Is it a championship layout or a holiday course? The club seems to be focusing on the latter rather than the former, but maybe I caught Trevose on a warm, benign, late spring day and I’d like it more in the wind.
I had the misfortune to time my trip to Trevose at the same time as the 'Beast From the East', which provided a brutal combination of high winds and low temperatures. Despite prevailing weather conditions, I greatly enjoyed 36 holes at Trevose.
The opening hole is a fantastic one, with penalising bunkers in play from the tee and bunkers obscuring the view of the green, a challenging and interesting first hole. The second follows in the same vein, another downhill tee shot providing brilliant views of the dunes and sea to the rear of the hole. I do leave disappointed that on my visit the 4th was out of play, as I would have loved to face the approach shot to a green framed brilliantly by the famous rocks and lashing waves (which had not put off many foolhardy surfers despite plummeting temperatures).
I do fear that my admiration for the golf course was at its highest during these first 4 holes, thanks in large part to the ocean views. The 5th played straight into wind and was a brute of a hole, and the 6th downwind less so. The 7th was another notable hole, which a very undulating green you do not want to find yourself the wrong side of.
Personally, the front 9 exceeds the back, largely perhaps due to the ongoing course renovations. But condition aside, the back 9 offers up less memorable holes. The pick of the back 9 for me being the par 3 11th, par 3 16th and par 4 16th.
Overall enjoyed Trevose greatly, greens were in fantastic condition given the time of year, as in large part were the fairways. Some terrific golf holes on the front 9, and a fair test of golf.
I played Trevose again last August and found it still a bit disappointing. The views from clubhouse are superb with some interesting holes on the front side, but there’s nothing much to stick in the memory on the back side except for the last strong par five. Conditions were not great when I played here either. I feel It’s overrated in relation to nearby Perrnporth.
I entered the Westlake Trophy at Trevose and arrived the afternoon prior and headed to the course to check out the practice facilities. The entire course is laid out below you from the elevated clubhouse but as it was shrouded in sheets of misty October drizzle, or “mizzle” as they call it here, I didn’t really get a chance to appreciate the setting. What was appreciated was the super little range with its inventive targets and very useful small indoor putting green in the cosy foyer building.
In the dead calm of the next morning Trevose was waiting for me in all its glory. The colossal desert like sandy dune face behind the 2nd green and further beyond the ocean brushing against the iconic sea rocks and jagged cliff faces out by the 4th green were landmark features that strikingly seemed within touching distance of the clubhouse. The conditions remained virtually dead calm all day long, most unusual for any seaside location, with not even a one club breeze applying, in fact not even 2/3 yards of ‘hurt’ at any stage. In many ways a true test of a links layout is the challenge it presents on a calm day such as this and Trevose was demanding underlined by the average CSS of +3 per round reported for the Westlake Trophy 36-hole competition.
Playing two rounds in a day in a competitive environment is probably one of the best ways to experience a golf course you have never played, albeit playing off the back tees can sometimes take the fun out of it, depending obviously on your level. For me three of best holes on the course come very early, the 1st, 2nd and 4th, the only section of the course that is set amidst the high dunes. The 1st is a superb downhill par four that meanders its way through dunes punctuated by gaping bunkers and a downhill run to a green that slopes back towards the fairway. The par four 2nd continues the downhill trend with a fairway guarded by four bunkers and a magnificent approach played to a green protected by three more bunkers and overlooked by the huge imposing Sahara-esque sand face behind. Not to discount the 3rd, it is a solid par three played from on high across a valley to a green with trouble on all sides including three nasty pot bunkers, yet with an inviting bowl in the middle of the green that can be quite rewarding. The 4th is the signature hole at Trevose, a dogleg left par five played from a high tee down to an undulating fairway, guarded by bunkers and an approach towards the ocean and “Booby’s Bay” beach. Most available photographs of this scene tend to capture the ocean at its wildest in the background, however it was dead calm when I was here.
The 5th and 6th take you to the northern half of the course (where the 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th are also routed), which is little bit less memorable, yet does present some strong holes. The bunkerless 5th is a tough dogleg left par four, the generous fairway offset by the long uphill approach to a stubbornly elevated green. The 6th offers some respite as a shortish par four with a big green. Then the 7th takes you back towards the low-lying section of the course closer to the larger dunes, another difficult par four with a long approach to an elevated green, one of a few holes on the course with a steep upslope before the putting surface. The relatively short par three 8th probably makes it into my top-five holes on the course, played over the valley of a burn to a green with three deep pot bunkers short and left and a steep grassy fall-off to the right. The front nine closes with a par five that offers two routes off the tee either side of three fairway bunkers and another steep rise to the green, this one steeper than most.
The 10th hole is another of my favourites, a par five with a downhill tee shot to an open fairway and a burn and three bunkers to negotiate en route to the green. The 11th is a tough par three that required a wood for me in both rounds from its highly elevated tee to a green also elevated with three bunkers to consider. The 12th is a long uphill par four towards the northern boundary of the course, with two grassy bunkers forcing you to think twice about cutting the corner and another large bunker short and left in the steady incline towards the green. The 13th is the last of the par fives, curving to the left from tee to green, the tee shot played slightly downhill and the second shot down again to an open flat fairway that sets up a tricky approach shot to a green with bunkers short, and with a hazard left and long to take into consideration. The green is in three sections and it is particularly hard to get close to the flag of it is in the back left corner.
The closing stretch begins with two short par fours, the 14th the shorter of the two and really only requiring a 240-250 yard tee-ball short of the four cross bunkers, which leaves just a wedge approach to relatively straight-forward green. Whilst the 15th doglegs slightly to the left, a tee shot bailed out right will still leave just a short-iron slightly uphill to a green that slopes from right to left, the back left pin position being the most dangerous given the slope off the left edge of the green. The 16th, like the 11th, is a 200+ yard par three that will frequently demand a well struck wood off the back tee to a green that has two grassy mounds in front of it, the main complication other than the sheer length of the hole.
The 17th is another of the top holes on the course, a demanding par four with a narrow fairway that must be found off the tee in order to ensure the good lie you need to be able to take on the green with your approach, as the burn (that also features on the 10th fairway) protects the front of the green and will gobble up anything half a club short. The 18th is a tough finisher, uphill all the way requiring two solid smacks off the back sticks to make the green, which has bunkers short on either side and O.B. long and left. The appeal of this hole is somewhat undermined by the road that crosses the fairway around 80 yards short of the green on which vehicles have right of way and tend to avail of this right without looking around to check if a golf ball is about to crack a windscreen.
Pick of the holes:
Par three – 8th
Par fours – 2nd & 17th
Par five – 4th
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Trevose Golf & Country Club is a real darling of the South-West golfing tapestry. Its three courses, on-site accommodation and reputation for excellent catering make it a highly popular and desirable venue for golfers and their families flocking to this part of the country.
Each time I have visited there has always been a lovely feel and buzz to the place.
The main links, designed by Harry Colt, regularly ranks as one of the top golf courses in the British Isles and as the proud host of The Brabazon Trophy (2008), The McGregor Trophy (2012) and the English Men's County Finals (2017) Trevose enjoys a real championship status. A maximum yardage of 7,172 from the blue tees confirms the challenge.
All lies before you from the 1st tee with an expanse of small sandhills to the right, larger dunes to the left and the sight of the Atlantic Ocean in the distance; a truly breathtaking vista. You can also spot several flags fluttering nonchalantly away, many of them perched up high on the top of plateaus, and you just know that your creativity will be tested.
The greens are quite large and the fairways certainly generous although new bunkering on many of the holes has tightened up the drives significantly. The greens themselves ran beautifully in the early season and were a joy to putt on.
There are some real high points at Trevose which compare favourably to the very best of British links golf. The intimidating opening tee shot, the knob-to-knob par-three third and the iconic fourth hole, with white horse waves crashing behind the green, are early highlights. The seventh is also an exceptional golf hole with a green complex that is arguably the best on the course. Holes eight and nine complete a sterling outward half.
In keeping with most Colt designs the course is set out in two loops of nine holes. The front half hugs the sand dunes and coastline, offering some spectacular views out to sea, and covers the best of the golfing terrain at Trevose. Meanwhile the back side offers a different, but no less demanding, test of golf as you head more inland.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
A good golf course rather than great golf course highlighted by the world class 4th hole. Holes 7 to 9 are very good. The scenery on holes 11 to 16 is ordinary as the terrain moves from the coast. However, the design of the holes is strong. The last 2 holes are excellent. I really enjoyed the round as Trevose is undoubtedly a really solid, honest test of golf.
Interesting to see the disparity of reviews here, I must say I err with the disappointed. It's one of those courses where the view from the clubhouse and its standout hole (4th) can overrule the blandness of many of the holes which in part tend towards a field with flags particularly around the turn. Constantine's Bay is a lovely place to play golf but if short for time for me I would recommend St Enodoc, Perranporth, Lelant (West Cornwall) or Mullion instead for a beautiful yet fun golf course. The 4th edges it up to a 4 ball.