‘Come to Cornwall’, By Tom Bowden –
In 2008 I tried to get an article in the Readers Column of Golf Monthly magazine. There was a small prize but the article had to fit into one page and be no more than 1000 words and no pictures. I chose “Come to Cornwall” as my theme, because I felt that we needed to encourage holidaymakers, and sent my article with one photo of me chipping out of the sea on Porth Kidney beach.
Golf Monthly usually has illustrations of golfers perfectly poised and ready to drive the ball 350 yards down the fairway! My illustration was so unusual that he included it in the article and it was published in the November 2008 edition, and I received £100 for my favourite charity! In publishing this piece again I have simply added some more illustrations.
I have been a member of Sham Castle Golf Club in Bath for 35 years and have never been much of a golfer. Having started playing at the age of 43 I have been content playing with an 18 handicap. Golf Clubs are full of well-adjusted old fellows like me who love their twice weekly games of golf. They have a few good shots, duff one now and again, lose a ball or two, admire the scenery and enjoy the exercise. There is always that one shot out of a hundred you can admire and comment upon.
I am Cornish and I worked for the Navy and ended up in Bath, which is not a bad place to be, but I like going home to Cornwall to play golf and do my favourite things like: walking the cliffs and admiring the scenery, sitting in old pubs and meeting the locals, looking at gardens and paddling on beaches, listening to Cornish Male Voice Choirs and spending a few bob on meals out, and sitting in the sun.
There are over 30 Golf Clubs in Cornwall, and I will tell you a little about three golf courses I have played on, and intersperse this with some interesting places to visit.
The Church Course at St Enodoc Golf Club near Padstow is one of the best courses in Cornwall. It was originally laid out by James Braid and it is a golfing experience with its narrow fairways and clever design. It is 6,207 yards long and Par 69 but you need to be skilful to stay on the fairway and come in with a good score. It is near the small village of Rock and overlooks the Camel Estuary with beautiful views. The two holes I particularly remember are the 6th, the “Himalayas” Hole, and the 13th Hole – which is where John Betjeman got his “Birdie” in his poem “Seaside Golf”. I do slideshows in the Bath area and in one I’m on the 6th Tee at St Enodoc having just driven up the fairway.
There is the 80ft Himalaya Bunker (carved out of a gigantic sand dune) immediately between my ball and the green!! I tell the audience that the best thing is to play up to the side and then chip onto the green. “Only a fool tries to play over this bunker!” Then I show a slide of me in the bunker with the sand disturbed in five places, and I finish the hole with an eight! On the thirteenth hole I recite “Seaside Golf” which ends with “Splendour! splendour! – everywhere” and I show a slide of the beautiful view from the Tee.
If I was going to North Cornwall to play any of the golf courses I would travel in on the Atlantic Highway (A39) and turn off to visit Morwenstow Church which is right out on the 400ft cliffs. In 1834 Robert Stephen Hawker was appointed vicar. He had won the Newdigate Prize for Poetry at Oxford and he went on to write the words for the Cornish Anthem “Trelawny”. I suggest you read about Rev Hawker and visit this atmospheric Church perched on the massive North Cornwall Cliffs.
The West Cornwall Golf Club at Church Lane, Lelant, on the west shore of St Ives Bay, is another favourite links course where you literally wend your way around the sand dunes. I miss-hit at one point and ended up splashing out of the sea on Porth Kidney Sands! I think this course requires more brains than brawn. Then you can relax playing snooker in the clubhouse in the evening. St Ives is always worth a visit but watch out for the seagulls which swoop to snatch your ice-cream cones and pasties! I like going around the bay to Godrevy Towans where there is a National Trust Car Park on the fields at Godrevy Point. From there the family can enjoy the beauty of the place. Paddle or swim on Gwithian Sands, walk miles around St Ives Bay, investigate the Towans, look at the sea pinks and the sea birds, visit the ice-cream van, or walk around the Cornish cliffs towards Portreath.
There are so many lovely places to visit in West Cornwall that you need a fortnight to enjoy them. However, I like to visit the little village of Treen down near Lands End and park the car and walk across the broccoli field or down a lane to look at the Logan Rock across the bay, and see some of the most breathtaking scenery in Cornwall! Look out for basking sharks and dolphins, and visit Pednvounder and Porthcurno beaches, and drive down through beautiful Lamorna Valley to Lamorna Cove.
Lastly, let‘s go out on the Lizard to the Mullion Golf Club on the west side near Mullion and Curry. It is the most southerly course in England and is on the cliffs overlooking Poldhu Cove and the beach at Gunwalloe. There are stupendous views across Mounts Bay towards Penzance and Newlyn. If you remember, John Betjeman coined the phrase “To be Mullioned” which means looking up to admire the view while making a swing and “duffing” your shot and ending in a hazard.
Once again, there are many interesting places to visit around the Lizard. I like the beach at Kynance Cove and you must go to Lizard Point. For lunch there are many good pubs, and I prefer to go to the picturesque Helford Village, leave my car in the village car park, and walk around Helford Creek with its old-world thatched cottages and village store and teashop to reach the Shipwrights Arms. It is heavenly just sitting in the pub garden overlooking the Helford River with a pint of best Cornish bitter and a big pasty! The cheeky chaffinches join you to walk on the table and eat the crumbs. I might meet you there one day.