We arrived at St Mellions absolutely rinsed.¬† That morning we‚??d woken in Bristol after very minimal sleep,¬† driven to Westward Ho (wherever that is), played a round of golf on a magic links course which put all of our golfing senses to the test, and then driven to the Southern part of Cornwall to the Resort of St Mellions.¬†¬† About 4 hours all up of driving and today was my turn in the drivers seat so when we got there, the adjective of ‚??rinsed‚?Ě was an understatement.¬†¬†
The St Mellion‚??s resort had kindly put us up for the night and even managed a spare room for Doug.¬† We thanked Amy from the resort the following day and our change of plans to push things forward by a day had worked out well for them as they were hosting the local tourism awards the following night and that gave them extra space for their attendees to stay.¬† They were up for a big award too and here‚??s hoping they won.¬† I wouldn‚??t be surprised after the comfort we experienced.
So after a huge sleep (the lads got up for a gym session but I kept sleeping) we had a restorative breakfast in the morning sun (I know Gretta would have particularly enjoyed this buffet style breakfast as it rivaled the one she raved about in Carton House a couple weeks back).
Our tee time was for 1pm so we had a chance to do a spot of blogging and try and catch up on some admin.¬† I was really just trying to stay awake.¬† Things have got away on us a bit in England due to our frantic schedules and a lack of time to arrange both golf and accommodation.¬† On a few occasions we‚??ve been without a golf course to play the following day ‚?? hopefully this unsettling sensation subsides a little over the coming weeks and we can get our plans for the rest of the year ‚?? including flights ‚?? finalised asap.
The 1pm tee time rolled around all too quickly.¬† Our challenge was the Nicklaus layout at St Mellion off the tips.¬† There was an advertisement in the pro shop about playing a tournament off the tips. It had a poison sign on it. ¬†Then we heard during a recent European tour event here, the scoring average one day was 79.¬† This was going to be tough.
[above: the approach shot to the first hole at St Mellion]
[looking though the trees towards the 5th green - a short dogleg left par four across water]
[the par three 11th green - played downhill and over this lake & bunker to a shallow green]
[the approach shot to the par five 12th green - this is after you have to navigate one of the tightest fairways I've ever been beaten up by!!]
Not only was St Mellions brutally challenging, but it was a very long walk. Jack has designed this course on a very severe piece of land and by the end of the round you‚??re legs are well and truly feeling the pinch.¬†¬† That said it is a really classy design.¬† Holes give you a chance but if you get it wrong, particularly off the tee, ¬†you‚??re in real strife.¬† This was proved with a number of birdies amongst the three of us (6 on the front nine ‚?? 3JP, 2Bart, 1M) and yet a huge number of bad scores. Very bad scores in my instance and by the back nine the prior day had caught up on me and it was about ‚??getting it done‚??.
[bart on the moguls on the stroke one 14th hole]
The lads continued to slog it out though and were stringing together some good holes.¬† Although, we did make a rule for our skins game that if anyone could make 4 pars (or better) in a row they‚??d get a bonus skin.¬† This would continue for every subsequent hole.¬† I can now report that this did not happen once in our round ‚?? this is a seriously hard course.¬†
Bart should have made three birdies in a row which would have been one of the finest stretches of golf of the year.¬† He (and JP) made perfect birdies on the par four 5th, which plays over water on both the tee shot and the approach shot, and then Bart made an epic birdie 3 on the strong par four 6th up the hill, into the wind and playing the equivalent of 500 yards.¬† But then he managed to three putt the par five 7th hole from 2 feet.¬† Takes a special man to do that.
Nicklaus in this layout has obviously placed a premium on driving the ball straight.¬† If I got the chance to play it again, I‚??d definitely take an iron off all the par fives and play them as three shot holes as the landing areas with driver are so tight and unforgiving. ¬†Come to think of it the one time I took a mid iron off the tee I made birdie.¬† (Course photographs to follow when Bart returns from going AWOL in London ‚?? we used his camera today).
For a newly designed course I particularly enjoyed the design of the greens.¬† Firstly they‚??re small, far smaller than many of the huge greens on various TPC courses in the US.¬† And secondly, they‚??re very subtle.¬† There are no swales and no crazy hollows through them ‚?? if you‚??re an Australian you would not say they were tricked up.¬† That said they‚??re pitched with the lie of the land and as the course is cut on some fairly severe ground some of the greens take far more break than you‚??d think at first sight.¬† Running at a good speed these greens would be very tricky ‚?? but today at a slower pace they were very playable.
The back nine is, well, tough as nails.¬† And it finishes you off with a knockout blow on the 470 yard par four 18th with a green guarded selfishly by a lake.¬† On this hole, the light fading the temperature lowering I had given myself a pure angle into the green from deep in the trees on the right.¬† Thinking clear as mud I tried to hit a hard hook around a tree and up through the gap besides the lake onto the green with a 2 iron.¬† No worries‚?¶¬† But my swing plane has become quite out to in which does not support a right to left shot.¬† No worries‚?¶. As the club came down towards the ball I tried to make up for the slice swing (& bad lie) by using my wrists, hockey styles.¬† This is where I got taught a sharp lesson in physics as my arms disagreed with my wrists and on impact I got one helluva fright, dropped the club and looked to see if my wrists were still intact.¬† Fortunately all was well, and I even found my ball ‚?? nestled under the tree ahead.
In all I‚??d definitely recommend not only a game of golf at St Mellions but also to stay here.¬† The course is a strong parkland course, well designed and in great condition.¬† As Bart commented, our two rounds the last couple of days ‚?? Westward Ho & St Mellions were very contrasting, yet extremely impressive assets in the golfing portfolio of Cornwall.
Unfortunately on the way out I tried to have a shower and there was not hot water ‚?? which left a cold touch on what had been a sensational and recuperating 24 hours.¬†¬† (Cold) Showered up it was back in the tank for a 4 hour drive through to our next base camp at Cottesmore. ¬†That was our trip to Cornwall in 36 hours‚?¶
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