The Brief: When your neighbours include St Enedoc and Trevose, as well as Saunton and Royal North Devon a short drive over the Devon border, it can be a tough job to make yourself stand out.
Royal Bude, as it’s known to the locals, sits on the public land of Summerleaze Downs right in the middle of town and offers a tough but enjoyable test, with plenty of blind shots and a perfect mixture of tough and delightful par-3s.
The course is relatively flat and features some stunning views, making it a delightful walk, while the ever-changing sea breeze ensures no two rounds are the same.
Bude & North Cornwall is an absolute must for any golfing trip in the Westcountry.
Founded as North Cornwall Golf Club in 1891, membership was not intended for local townsfolk but for an exclusive group of officer class incomers and local gentry.
An exception was made for six-time Open champion Harry Vardon who visited the club in 1905, 1907 and 1909, the last of which included reducing his own course record from 69 to 65.
The demand for somewhere to play among the locals came to a head when they started an artisan section, Bude Town Golf Club, in 1919. Members had to carry out work on the course, were not admitted to the clubhouse and had restricted playing times.
In the post-War years, with North Cornwall Golf Club struggling for members and finances, the only way to ensure the future of the game in Bude was to merge the two clubs. In 1949, Bude & North Cornwall Golf Club was born.
A more in-depth read about Bude & North Cornwall Golf Club’s history can found on the website.
The Golf: Cross the main road from the clubhouse for the first tee, pictured above, as the opening five holes at Bude are played to the soundtrack of waves crashing in off the Atlantic.
The third is a fine example of how a par-4 doesn’t need to be long to be tricky as it sweeps round the back of the second tee with OB swallowing anything right or long, while the fourth is a delightful 135-yard par-3 virtually on Crooklets Beach. The hole might be unique in this country as it is isolated entirely by roads.
Back over the road by the clubhouse and the Stroke Index 1, 360-yard, par-4 sixth provides the day’s first blind tee shot. But with ample room to manoeuvre, open up the shoulders and unleash toward the marker post. Your second shot, with OB all down the right and thick rough left, will require a much more measured approach.
Seven is like no other hole I’ve ever played. A long iron is best advised to keep the ball in play, but the approach shot requires pin-point accuracy as the small green slopes dramatically off on three sides.
The course takes more of a parkland feel for the next three holes, the long par-3 eighth into the wind setting you up for the first par-5 of the round at nine, which sees you play into a bottlenecked lightly-wooded area.
The tenth, a picturesque par-3, is well protected by a hungry stream the Captain’s Bunker, while 11 provides the second blind tee shot of the day.
But it’s all worth it when you step up onto the 12th tee and treated to some exceptional views across the holes ahead of you, as well those which you’ve already tackled.
Enjoy 12 while you can, because 13 is one of the toughest par-3s you’re ever likely to play. At 200-yards off the yellows with no room left, right or short, this is the hole to put everything into your swing.
Fourteen is one of my favourite holes in golf. Open your shoulders on the tee, but when you get to your ball, you’re left facing a blind shot into a bowl-shaped green protected by a large mound. It’s quite an experience seeing the ball come down then not knowing how you’ve done until you get there.
Competitions are never over until the finish at Bude, with deceptive, undulating fairways making the final four holes a great challenge – not to mention the gorge which runs straight through all of them!
Birdie Hunter: At just 445-yards, the par-5 18th is offers the perfect chance to finish your day on a high. The target fairway is large, but with deep rough on the right and internal OB on the left. Get the tee shot right and you’re in business.
Bogey Blues: The par-3 13th would grace any Championship course in the world. A true test. Miss the target and you’ll have to bring your best short-game to save par.
On the Dance Floor: “Sculpted by God”, as one local used to tell me every time I was within feet of the clubhouse, the greens are playable all year round, each providing its own challenge with quick surfaces coupled with severe yet subtle borrows.
The 19th: Recently refurbished, the cozy clubhouse is the perfect retreat – whether you’ve been beaten up by the course or had the round of your life. Real ales and local homemade food can be enjoyed indoors or, in the summer, on the balcony offering views across the course.
Splash the Cash: Mark Yeo has one of the best-stocked pro shops in the country, boasting all the top brands, and will even match or better any price you find online.
Stay and Play: A typical tourist resort, Bude & North Cornwall is home to plenty thriving hotels. I’d recommend the Inn on the Green, which overlooks the fourth hole. If you want somewhere a bit livelier than the clubhouse, be sure to check out Rogue Sports Bar down on The Strand.
Address: Burn View, Bude, Cornwall, EX23 8DA
Telephone: 01288 353635
Getting There: Bude is approximately 20 minutes from the A30, which connects the south west to the rest of the country. In terms of public transport, Bude is roughly and hour and a half on the bus from Exeter.
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