If I could pick one architect to lay out a golf course over rugged ground, I might go with James Braid. Although perhaps better known for devising bunkering schemes for existing golf courses, Braid should also be remembered for how his routings at Pennard, Gleneagles (King’s), Perranporth, and Welshpool tackle some of the severest ground imaginable. His designs are bold, beautiful, and full of ingenuity—and St. Enodoc is no exception.
While the ground has a strong tilt, the landscape for the Church Course’s 4th is relatively plain. The 3rd hole has already crossed a bisecting wall and road; here at the 4th, you are asked to make a bold shot over another wall, this one enclosing the corner of an out-of-bounds field, to give yourself an easier approach.
The par-4 4th (top) and par-3 5th (bottom left) holes at the Church Course at St. Enodoc (Google Earth)
The nearest point of the wall is about a 125-yard carry. The wall then angles diagonally away from you and to the right, up the hill, before kinking back to the left and running toward the green. The more of the wall you can carry to the right, the better your angle on the approach. Ideally, you will attack this short par 4 with a tee shot that makes a carry of 200 or so yards and settles as close to the upper boundary as possible. From there, all you have left is a simple running chip shot down the length of the green.
The margin for error is small, but the reward significant enough!
There is, however, plenty of bail-out room should you not feel so brave early in the round. But be warned: in the typically dry Cornish summers, a left-hedging drive will run out into more rugged terrain and leave an uphill aerial approach.
Shelved above a pair of pot bunkers and tightly flanked by the boundary wall on its high side, the green is oriented so that the angle of approach worsens with every inch away from the out-of-bounds field. The pots are perfectly positioned to snare the wary shot, whereas the three- to four-foot height of grass-topped, dry-stone wall might rescue an over-aggressive one.
The green surrounds flow into the tee of the par-3 5th, which plays back over the low that the 4th hole has just skirted.
As the round continues, so does St. Enodoc’s inventiveness. A particular highlight is how yet another wall artfully props up the 14th green’s right side. Golf in Great Britain and Ireland is full of such moments, and the game is better for it. Though out-of-bounds is a tool sadly not as available* to the contemporary architect, holes featuring the strategic use of a boundary have survived on many older courses, where the game operates more on common sense and has been integrated with the local community. The road along the 8th hole at Seacroft and the internal copses at Hoylake come to mind first. That St. Enodoc’s 4th includes elements of both makes it one of my favorite holes in golf.
*Note: I didn’t say unavailable. Where appropriate, I’m in favor of more strategic adaptation of boundaries.
Disclaimer: Clyde is working with St. Enodoc, following on from Tom Doak’s consulting visit in 2016.