Sunday, 8 October 2017
Three weeks after returning from a tour of some of the finest links courses of the west of Ireland, I set off from London to Cornwall with my driver loft still set to 8.167 degrees and entered the Westlake Trophy scratch open at the acclaimed links at Trevose Golf Club near Padstow on the north coast of Cornwall. The course is ranked 2nd in Cornwall and 57th in England.
I 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 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 typical high dunes that were such a prominent feature of my recent west of Ireland links trip. 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 the picture with this post shows it at its most benign, yet still impressive.
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 a well guarded elevated green, one of 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 if 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 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