After a couple months in the wilderness, Secret Golfer has resurfaced, this month reporting from the Atlantic coastline of Cornwall and Trevose Golf and Country Club, to see if one of the most renowned links destinations in the UK could meet high expectations
Pictures: England’s Atlantic Links
The famous Championship golf course at Trevose was designed by Harry Colt and opened in 1925. Sitting alongside Constantine Bay on the North Cornwall Coast, just along from Padstow, the course occupies one the finest natural links landscapes in the UK, with a clubhouse perfectly positioned above the course, offering panoramic views over the links, the Trevose headland and out to sea. The club has been owned and run by the Gammon family for three generations, dating back to 1941. Current managing director Nick Gammon is leading the work of his father and grandfather before him to try to ensure that Trevose not only provides golfers with an exceptional golf experience, but that it maintains the feeling of being an escape from the pace and pressures of modern life, and to be a friendly club that whole families can enjoy, golfers and non-golfers alike. The Championship Course is complemented by the nine-hole Headland Course, the nine-hole, par-three Short Course, practice facilities, tennis courts, swimming pool and a range of self-catering lodges, apartments and bungalows.
The clubhouse at Trevose has one of the best positions in British golf, sitting above the course and with Trevose Head and the sea beyond. With expansive windows across the front of Colt’s bar and the Constantine restaurant, the building takes full advantage of its stunning panorama. Colt’s and Constantine have been renovated in recent years, so their interiors are bright, spacious and contemporary, and the service – particularly in Constantine’s – is very friendly, efficient and unpretentious. The Colt’s menu offers a full array of clubhouse favourites, but there are twists that raise the food a notch, such as the Cajun burger with blue cheese, red onion and jalapenos. It is as good as any burger Secret Golfer has ever eaten (and there have been quite a few).
The full Cornish breakfast is also prepared with excellent attention to every detail. Constantine’s menu brings in more sophistication, while maintaining the club’s Cornish character and utilising local produce. It is a great venue for guests looking for dining of genuine quality, and the Goan fish curry, featuring sea bass, monkfish and prawns came recommended, and lived up to its billing. The locker rooms are also spacious, modern and finished to high specifications, while tennis courts and a swimming pool ensure this family club is not just about golf. While not strictly part of the clubhouse, special mention should also go to the cluster of seven Fairway Lodges that Trevose opened in 2010.
The club already offered a broad variety of bungalows and apartments, located primarily behind the clubhouse, but in a £2 million-project, the Fairway ‘eco-lodges’ are nestled unobtrusively beneath the 18th hole and just 100 yards from the clubhouse. Partially subterranean, the beautifully appointed, three-bedroom lodges were built with local materials and feature ground-source heating, rainwater harvesting for golf course irrigation, while ‘green’ turfed roof space boosts biodiversity. There are a lot of products in golf that are marketed as ‘innovations’ when the truth is far from it, but in the sphere of golf resort accommodations, the Fairway Lodges at Trevose are strikingly innovative.
Gary Lenaghan’s spacious pro shop is well located at one end of the clubhouse, just behind the Championship first tee and practice green, and his shop is well stocked with a variety of hardware and a particularly broad range of apparel – much of which is crested – featuring Peter Millar, Ralph Lauren, Oscar Jacobson, Nike, FootJoy, adidas and IJP among other labels.
A variety of price points are covered here, and the presentation of the stock is busy and ordered without being cluttered. The service received from Lenaghan and his assistant pro Grant Slater was spot on. Slater showed excellent product knowledge and was welcoming without being pushy, and could not have been more helpful. During this three-day visit, Lenaghan was busy teaching much of the time, and Secret Golfer saw how adept he is at providing the same quality of relaxed service to golfers of all ages, which is critical at a destination that prides itself on being a family club.
The driving range is in the process of being developed, but already boasts undercover bays and Lenaghan has installed a launch monitor for tuition and club fitting.
The range has plenty of distance for big hitters, while for the short game, the facilities at Trevose are exceptional. An expansive putting green lies in front of the clubhouse, and at one end it boasts one of the most severe slopes you will ever encounter on a practice green – and make no mistake, this is ideal preparation for the Championship Course. Beneath the practice green, and still very close to the first tee, are a practice net and a pair of chipping greens, with bunkers and ample space for practicing pitching from varying yardages. A pair of fully-fledged pot bunkers adorn the second chipping green, so Trevose is ideally equipped for links practice. Just 100 yards away, the club’s Short Course is also an excellent challenge for sharpening iron and wedge play.
The Championship Course at Trevose is one of the reasons the legend of Harry Colt thrives. From the back tees it can be a serious challenge at 7,079 yards, and sufficiently so for the 2008 Brabazon Trophy to be played here. The yellow yardage totals a much more civilised 6,187 yards, which adds to the holiday philosophy of Trevose. The course is not set-up to brutalise golfers, but rather to give them the opportunity to score well. If the winds get up across the headland, scoring will become upwardly mobile regardless, so the course set-up offers some balance by giving golfers every opportunity to succeed. The fairways are generally wide off the tee, and only after decent strips of first cut does the thick meadow grass and occasional gorse start to issu
e serious punishment. That is not to say this is an easy golf course. Pars at the long par-fours of the first, fifth, 10th, 12th and 18th are all very well earned. If there are signature holes on the Championship Course they must be the par-three third and par-five fourth, which run end to end along the bottom of the golf course, nearest to the sea and beside the tallest of the dunes. They are both spectacular holes, and depending on wind strength and direction, each of them can play short or long. The nine-hole Headland course, which also runs down towards the beach, is less linksy and gentler in design than the Championship Course, and does not require a handicap certificate to play, unlike the main course. At 3,031 yards it is not too long for novice golfers, yet still has room for the driver on some holes.
Then the Short Course, at 1,360 yards, does not offer a hole longer than 200 yards, yet comes with a generous par of 29. This is the ideal layout for beginners, as a stepping-stone to full-sized golf, while it could also set the scene for some interesting side bets from more seasoned players.
The greens are small and so not always easy to find in one, yet the putting surfaces are reasonably level, to give a decent stroke the best chance of reward. The highlight here is the elevated tee shot to the 135-yard fourth hole, which plays over the ruin of a third-century holy well.