Cornwall is a long-established destination of choice for family holidays in the UK, but the tranquil southwesterly region is also a magnet for golfers.
With stunning coastlines, clifftops overlooking serene beaches, and natural beauty scarcely bettered anywhere else in the country, Cornwall ticks all the boxes as far as golf is concerned.
You’re almost spoilt for choice as a golfer in Cornwall, so if you’re a first-timer, it’s understandable if you need a helping hand.
That’s where we come in. We’ve done the research so that you don’t have to. Here are the 14 best golf courses in Cornwall.
1. Perranporth Golf Club
Situated on Cornwall’s gorgeous northern coast, Perranporth Golf Club is arguably one of the most underrated links courses in the UK.
Designed in 1927 by the Scottish golf great James Braid, Perranporth and its unique layout have largely remained the same ever since. The links course itself is built upon high ground, which means golfers are treated to stunning views across Perran Bay and its sandy beach while on the green.
The course at Perranporth measures just over 6,200 yards and has a standard par of 72. However, golfers will find that Perranporth is not without its challenges. There are a total of seven blind drives alongside several semi-blind approach shots, too, which can catch out first-timers in particular.
The landscape at Perranporth is also renowned for its somewhat moon-like qualities. With holes winding up and down its natural dunes, it’s not the most relaxing of courses, that’s for sure – but one that’s worth the challenge.
Still, however, Perranporth Golf Club ranks in the Golf World Top 100 courses in the UK and Ireland.
2. Newquay Golf Club
It doesn’t take long to realise why Newquay is a holiday hotspot. It’s home to some of the best beaches in Britain and the best surfing destinations in the world.
However, it’s also home to the stunning Newquay Golf Club, with its beautiful views across the headland and the world-famous Fistral Beach – an iconic surfing spot.
Newquay Golf Club was formed way back in 1890, meaning that its stunning golf course is not only a renowned landmark of sheer natural beauty but it’s jam-packed with history too.
This 18-hole, par 69 course measures more than 6,100 yards long and is suitable for golfers of all abilities and skillsets – so it’s a must-visit if you’re holidaying in Newquay or nearby.
But the maintenance of the golf course has not been without struggle. In fact, once upon a time, the land was nearly sold to developers with the intention of it becoming a housing estate – however, thankfully, those plans never teed off (pardon the pun!)
3. The Point at Polzeath
The greens at the Point are considered some of the best in the UK among the golfing community, and it’s easy to see why.
Though the 18-hole golf course has been open for more than 20 years, investment more recently to the site has allowed for significant improvements to just about every aspect of the course. In fact, the course’s overall presentation is pretty hard to fault.
Sitting nicely just above the Camel Estuary, five miles from Wadebridge and a mile from St Enodoc, the Point is in the ideal location for a relaxing golfing retreat. In 2018, the Sunday Times included the Point at Polzeath in a round-up of Britain’s top golf hotels, too.
The course itself has glorious views out over Hayle Bay and Pentire Point, which make playing golf here an absolute delight, especially during peak season.
4. China Fleet Golf Club
China Fleet Golf Club is set in an impressive 180 acres of Cornish countryside alongside the River Tamar, on the cusp of bordering Devon. It’s also just 15 minutes from the city of Plymouth – so it’s just about as connected and accessible as a golf course can be.
This superb 18-hole parkland golf course was designed by Dr Martin Grant Hawtree – a golf course architect whose CV also includes world-famous courses such as Royal Birkdale and Les Aisses.
The 72-par course at China Fleet is suitable for golfers of all abilities, with chipping and putting greens, a short-game practice area, and a 22-bay floodlit driving range.
You’ll encounter a few surprises as you work your way through the holes here, though. Without giving too much away – think water hazards, tree-lined fairways and out-of-bounds holes.
Golfers already familiar with this course will agree that the 14th hole, in particular, is a memorable one. Here, the tee shot needs to carry over 140 yards of lake, so the weight of shot is key.
5. Merlin Golf Club
You might associate the name Merlin with magic – and this beautiful heathland course on Cornwall’s northern coast is nothing short of magic either.
With amazing views of the sea, Merlin Golf Club is not far from Mawgan Porth and its award-winning beach, meaning you can enjoy your golf in some of the best surrounds Cornwall has to offer.
The course at Merlin is designed to suit golfers of all abilities, as there are no long carries for high handicappers to consider but still enough of a challenge posed to keep the lower handicappers among us engaged.
As greens go, they don’t come too much better than Merlin’s either. These greens, in particular, are arguably some of the truest you’ll ever come across as a golfer. This, combined with the stunning north Cornwall scenery, makes Merlin Golf Club a golfer’s magical paradise in every sense.
6. Carlyon Bay
The 72-par, 18-hole championship golf course at Carlyon Bay is one of the finest the region has to offer.
Situated on the south coast clifftops, the views across the bay are spectacular, while the course itself provides a challenge for any golfer.
Many have described the course at Carlyon Bay as ‘one of two halves’. The first ten holes are played right alongside the clifftop before winding into the parkland for the back-stretch.
However, aesthetically, there’s certainly nothing half-measured about Carlyon Bay, because as we mentioned before, most of the course yields sublime views across St Austell Bay.
Carlyon Bay also has a six-acre practice ground with two excellent putting greens and a nine-hole approach course on site, making it one of the best golf courses in Cornwall, and indeed the UK in general, for both playing and practising.
7. West Cornwall Golf Club
Overlooking St Ives Bay and the Hayle Estuary is West Cornwall Golf Club (WCGC). Founded in 1889, it’s the oldest existing golf course in Cornwall.
Though the WCGC course itself may not be a championship layout, it’s still fully capable of nurturing championship talent. The legendary Jim Barnes (AKA ‘Long Jim’), one of the few golfers to win an Open Championship in both the UK and US, cut his golfing teeth at WCGC. Born in Cornwall himself, Barnes went on to win four majors during his golfing career – so it’s fair to say WCGC is a good place to start!
More recently, golfers such as Philip Rowe and Harry Hall have all practised their craft out on the WCGC greens.
With a quiet railway line running adjacent and Hayle Beach visible from across the estuary, WCGC promises the perfect golfing experience all year round.
8. St Mellion International Resort
The course at St Mellion was designed and built by none other than Jack Nicklaus. For many golfers, that fact alone would probably be enough to prompt a visit, but St Mellion doesn’t just talk the talk – it firmly walks the walk, too.
Nicklaus’ first European course design, St Mellion is widely regarded as one of the best in the business, with golfers travelling from all over to test themselves on a course designed by one of the game’s greatest.
In true Nicklaus style, there’s no such thing as an easy hole at St Mellion, each of them carefully crafted with their own individuality. If nothing else – it’s clear to see Nicklaus paid immense attention to detail (which would go some way to explain his enviable success!)
With high elevations, tiered greens and plenty of water, you’ll know you’ve been in a game by the time you reach the 18th hole, that’s for sure.
St Mellion has been voted best golf course in the west of England and the second-best 4* golf resort in the UK and Ireland.
It’s also hosted tournaments. For example, the Benson & Hedges International Open was held here between 1990 and 1995, during which time the late, great Seve Ballesteros clinched victory.
9. Bude and North Cornwall Golf Club
Cornwall’s most northern town, Bude, has been a golfing hotspot since the late nineteenth century, and the Bude and North Cornwall Golf Club (BNCGC) has stood proud for more than 130 years.
This classic seaside links course is located just half a mile away from the town centre and has gorgeous views towards its two nearby beaches – Summerleaze and Crooklets.
Despite being somewhat ‘squeezed’ into a relatively small plot of land, the course still manages to boast a full 18 holes dissected by Golf House Road. The first five holes lie on one side, with the remaining 13 fairways dotted strategically on the other. Hats off to its original designer, Tom Dunn!
BNCGC offers golfers of all abilities an opportunity to experience an older-style links with various blind shots and fast greens.
There’s a smaller, 9-hole pitch and putt course on-site, too.
10. Holywell Bay
There’s something for everyone at Holywell Bay, so it’s another must-visit course if you’re holidaying in Newquay or nearby.
Located around six miles from Newquay Golf Club, Holywell Bay has two 18-hole golf courses, a 16-hole mini-golf course, and a family-friendly ‘Pitch & Putt’ by the sea – so from novice to veteran and young to old, all tastes and abilities are well catered for.
Holywell Bay’s courses and facilities are kept in stunning condition thanks to the site’s dedicated Greens’ Team, and the gorgeous panoramic views overlooking the countryside and National Trust-maintained beaches below make this one of the best golf courses in Cornwall.
Unlike some other golf clubs in the area, you don’t need to be a member to play a round at Holywell Bay. So, you’re free to pay and play as and when you wish – what’s not to love?
11. Trevose Golf and Country Club
The Trevose Golf and Country Club (TGCC) boasts three exquisite golf courses – the Championship Course, Headland Course, and Short Course – each one catering for golfers of varying abilities.
The oldest of the three is the Championship Course, which first opened in 1925 and is often regarded as one of the UK’s best links courses. Over the years, multiple tournaments have been held here, including the inaugural European Legends Links Championship in 2019 and the English Men’s County Finals in 2017.
As you stand on the first tee at the Championship Course, be prepared to be completely overwhelmed as the sights and sounds of the Atlantic hit you front-on. Another course of two halves, the first nine Championship holes stay close to the sandy coastline before heading back inland for the latter half.
The Headland Course at TGCC opened in 1993. Although a much quieter course, the quality on offer isn’t compromised an iota. All players are welcome on the Headland, and there’s no need to show handicap certificates, either.
For beginners to the sport, TGCC’s Short Course offers a sound environment to practice, too.
12. Bowood Park
In the rolling hills of North Cornwall, just outside Camelford, lies Bowood Park, among 230 acres of immense woodland.
To put the surroundings into context, the site on which Bowood Park is laid out was once the largest deer park in Cornwall, owned by Edward of Woodstock (the Black Prince). However, it first opened as a golf course in 1992, and today, it’s one of the best in the region.
As the name would imply, Bowood Park is a parkland course and was very much ‘ahead of the game’ in the UK when it was built.
From the back markers, the course measures just shy of 6,700 yards, with the first nine holes dotted along the Cornish hillside before the latter half snakes through the valley of the River Allen.
The eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth holes are some of the easiest on the eye you’re likely to ever come across as a golfer. They’ve even been likened to the Amen Corner at Augusta National (for those that know it).
13. St Enodoc Golf Club
Overlooking the Camel Estuary with views out towards nearby Padstow and the Atlantic, St Enodoc is perfectly placed to offer an unrivalled golf experience.
There are two courses at St Enodoc – Church Course and Holywell Course (not to be confused with Holywell Bay).
The Church Course, in particular, has earned itself a reputation over the years as one of the best courses in the West Country and has hosted numerous amateur events, such as the English Ladies Amateur Championships and the English Counties Championship.
You’ll encounter a few surprises on the Church Course – some unwanted, however – not least the ‘Himalaya bunker’, which is rumoured to be the biggest in Europe!
Players seeking a slightly less demanding round should give St Enodoc’s Holywell Course a go. This course is maintained to an exceptional standard and is suitable for golfers of all abilities. It’s the ideal spot for a relaxing round on a warm summer’s evening.
Interestingly, the course gets its name from the intriguing-looking ‘holy well’ you’ll find just to the left of the twelfth hole.
14. Lanhydrock Hotel
Last but not least, the Lanhydrock Hotel in Bodmin boasts one of the finest 18-hole golf courses in Cornwall.
Hidden away in a sheltered valley, the Lanhydrock’s golf course has been beautifully shaped into the surrounding landscape over the years, and today offers a truly enjoyable experience for every golfer.
The tone of the round is set from the very first hole. Lanhydrock is blessed with reasonably flat land, so the course isn’t too demanding on the legs, but it takes full advantage of its various water features.
After a relatively calm start, the difficulty ramps up by the time you reach the tenth hole. From here, you’ll be faced with a deceptive creek, uneven greens, thicker rough and overhanging trees – so, don’t get complacent and be prepared!
There’s a wide range of practice facilities on site, too, including a driving range with six covered bays and two grass area practice tees.
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