Situated in the picturesque coastal town of Rock, St Enodoc offers golfers some of the most natural links golf to be found anywhere in Britain. An original James Braid design, the course winds its way through sand dunes, with the sloping fairways and undulating greens providing golfers with an array of difficulties even in the most benign of conditions.
Having been a member for 15 of my 20 years, I often take for granted the stunning scenery that accompanies a round at St Enodoc. Views of the Camel Estuary, usually buzzing with sailors and surfers, and the fishing village of Padstow across the bay, where chef Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant can be found, are on display from all parts of the course. The par-4 9th is unforgettable. An exposed tee supplies an incredible panoramic view of the estuary, and open Atlantic Ocean beyond, while the approach shot must be precise to a raised green flanked by pine trees, giving an amphitheatre-like atmosphere to the hole.
The following hole is an absolute card-wrecker. Pars are very hard to come by on the 457-yard 10th hole, with red hazard posts lining the entire length of the hole on the left and steep dunes on the right. The second shot is usually from over 200 yards, across a marsh to a devilish green. Most play this hole as a par 5, aiming their second shot at the church spire from which the course takes its name.
Length is of no major advantage at St Enodoc. Measuring just 6,300 yards off the white tees, many of the par 4s require accurate tee shots to narrow fairways, while cleverly positioned fairway bunkers and penal rough often catch out the longer hitter. Precise approach shots to small, well-protected greens are the order of the day, although this is made difficult by the strong sea breezes that usually sweep across the course. The par 3s are all hugely affected by the wind, with the 15th hole a prime example. This innocuous-looking 150-yard downhill par 3 can range between anything from a pitching wedge to a 3-iron and frequently witnesses the climax of matches, while also offering a rare birdie opportunity on a still day.
In recent years, St Enodoc has overseen the emergence of several bright stars. This includes Scott Godfrey who won the English Amateur Championship in 2001 and later went on to earn full international honours in the England team, as well as competing in the Open at St George’s in 2003. As well as the main Church Course, St Enodoc also has a shorter Holywell Course which is perfect for youngsters and beginners. Recent developments have been made to the practice facilities, including a new chipping area where players can practice lengthy chips as well as bunker shots.
St Enodoc is a true test of links golf in a truly stunning location, and in the words of poet Sir John Betjeman, who is buried in the church next to the 10th, at St Enodoc there is “splendour, splendour everywhere”.