Venitii tribespeople arrived from Brittany in the 1st century BC after which there is evidence of Roman colonisation. St Petroc was central to Padstow’s growth as he founded a monastery there in the 500s AD. Until the 17th century the port was primarily used for fishing but, as Cornish mining developed, it increasingly became a hub for industrial transport. The railway arrived in Padstow in 1899 and from then tourism began to play a more prominent part in maintaining the town’s economy.
In the 10th century King Athelstan granted the right of sanctuary to Padstow. It meant that criminals could remain there safe from arrest. Unfortunately, if you’ve committed some heinous golfing crimes asylum can no longer be found in Padstow as the law was revoked at the time of the Reformation.
Fully intent on avoiding any crimes against golf we arrived in Padstow on a blustery September morning. After checking into The Metropole, an impressive Victorian hotel overlooking the town, we headed for our first course, St Enodoc.
The club will forever be associated with poet laureate Sir John Betjeman. The Church Course was his favourite track and he now lies adjacent to the 10th hole in the graveyard of the church that gives the course its name. Apart from some subtle tweaking by Peter McEvoy, among others, the course has remained largely unchanged since the ubiquitous James Braid laid it out in 1907.
In this modern age of power hitting the Church Course refreshingly demands the use of more traditional skills. It’s only just over 6,200 yards with a par of 69 but the undulating terrain makes for awkward stances, cruel bounces and frustrating run-offs. It means that this is by no means a pushover. To return a good score you must apply creativity and imagination, you must be able to deal with the odd slice of bad fortune and, above all, you must be patient. Watch out for the huge “Himalaya” bunker on the 6th hole. Carved into the side of a sand hill it’s a daunting prospect from the tee.
Back in Padstow there’s plenty to keep you occupied while you’re away from the course. Visit the town’s interesting little museum. It’s just 50m from the harbour and charts the history of the port over the past 200 years. Travel just outside the town to Prideaux Place, a beautiful country house where the Prideaux family has lived since Elizabethan times. Alternatively, just soak up the atmosphere in the town itself. Rick Stein has his Seafood Restaurant nestled in the centre, a must-visit for any golfing gastronome.
Just a few miles down the coast from Padstow is Trevose Golf Club. When archaeologist Dr Penrose Williams purchased the stretch of land upon which Trevose GC now sits, his principal reasoning was to re-excavate a 3rd century holy well he’d uncovered in 1911. After completing that task he was uncertain what to do with the remaining land. Thankfully he had the good sense to call in Harry Colt, the renowned golf course architect, in 1924. It was the only time Colt worked on a course in the South-West but his involvement at Trevose resulted in a cracker. Tightly mown, firm-running fairways, towering sand hills and clever bunkering combine to make Trevose a strict test. This is confirmed by the fact the club will play host to the Brabazon Trophy in 2008. The wind plays a critical role here and, with the waves of the Celtic Sea crashing in, this is a rugged and invigorating place to play golf. Even if the scoring is not up to standard the setting will be.
On the way back east we had time to sample one more course, so we stopped at Launceston for some parkland golf. Dating from 1910 this is one of the area’s top inland tracks and we found it in superb condition, particularly the greens. With views over Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor and the Tamar Valley this is yet another course with spectacular surrounding scenery, albeit different from the coastal terrain we’d previously experienced. The weather was calm and it was very pleasant to not be buffeted about like we had the previous two days.
After enjoying a great round we agreed this was a very relaxing way to wind down after the rigours of windy links golf.
Where to Play
t: 01208 863216
stats: par 69, SSS 70, 6,243 yards
t: 01841 520208
stats: par 72, SSS 72, 6,863 yards
t: 01566 775359
stats: par 70, SSS 71, 6,415 yards
Where to stay
The Metropole Hotel, Padstow
t: 0800 197 0198
Luxurious hotel with 50 en-suite bedrooms – some have four-poster beds! There’s also an outdoor swimming pool and a restaurant famed for its seafood. The views are excellent, over the village and out to sea.
Cross House Hotel
t: 01841 532391
Very comfy small hotel in a Grade II listed Georgian house. All rooms are en-suite and some have plasma screen TVs.
Open Easter to October: Mon-Fri 10.30am-4.30pm, Sat 10.30am-1pm.
Varying opening times, please check before visiting
Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant