Golf was first played by a party of undergraduates in 1888 in the area around St Enodoc church and Daymer Bay. A year later, a number of local gentlemen laid out a few holes amongst the towering dunes at Rock and in 1890 they formed St Enodoc Golf Club.
The minutes of the General Meeting, held in the open air in March 1892, record that there were about 20 members paying an annual subscription of 5/- to cover the annual rent of £6 for the use of the land. Early records mention competitions held over 27 holes, 18 out and 9 home, but sadly no definitive plans exist to indicate precisely where the holes were sited. It is known, however, that the first tee was on the high land about 300 yards to the east of the present Club House, and that there was one hole on the northern side of Daymer Bay.
In about 1900, Dr Theophilus Hoskin purchased 300 acres, including the land already in use for golf, plus adjoining Trenain Farm and Brea Cottage. In 1905 he granted a lease to the Club of ‘Coles Sandy Common’ for £30 a year, and two years later signed an agreement to allow play on what are now the 13th and 14th holes.
The Prince of Wales teeing off in front of the old clubhouse and buildings in 1927
In 1907 James Braid laid out a full 18 hole course, first upgraded in 1922 with the construction of the short 8th and a diversion of the original 11th, 12th and 13th holes. In 1937 a new clubhouse and access road from Rock were opened in time for the English Ladies’ Close Championship. As a result of the re-siting of the clubhouse, Braid constructed the current 17th and 18th holes.
Wanda Morgan winning the 1937 ELGA championship
The tenancy granted by Dr Hoskin in 1905 continued until 1949 when his widow decided to sell the property. The Club tried to buy the land but, as negotiations were proceeding, the Duchy of Cornwall agreed to buy the whole of the land including the clubhouse, and to accept the Club as tenants.
The shorter 9 hole course was closed in 1939 because of wartime labour shortages but was re-opened in 1967. Incorporating some of the original Braid design, it was extended to 18 holes in 1982. Though not as exacting as the Church course, the shorter Holywell course has proved very popular with golfers of all ages and abilities.
The most significant event in the Club’s recent history was the purchase of the freehold from the Duchy in 1987. Since then, the clubhouse has been enlarged and improved, and in 1998 a modern, computer-controlled watering system was installed in response to increasing usage of the courses and a spate of particularly dry summers. Water is supplied from a 6 million gallon reservoir constructed between the 1st and 2nd holes of the Church course.
The membership has grown steadily over the years and now numbers approximately 1,300 – 500 of whom are resident in the Duchy. The Club prides itself on the encouragement it gives to junior golfers. In recent years several have gone on to represent the county at both junior and senior level. In 1998, Scott Godfrey won the Carris Trophy and became, as far as we know, the first St Enodoc golfer to win a national championship of any sort. He went on to achieve even greater success, winning the English Amateur Championship in 2001 and gaining full international honours in the England team.
The Church Course has hardly changed since Bernard Darwin wrote his description shortly before the Second World War. In 2004 a review of the course by Peter McEvoy resulted in some new fairway bunkering, several additional tees and a new 13th green. In 2007 the considerably lengthened Par 5 16th (now 560 yards long) was opened. Nevertheless, golfers today still play the course essentially as laid out by James Braid – a tremendous tribute to that great golfer’s vision and skill. St Enodoc has stood the test of time even with the enormous changes in club and ball technology in the last seventy years.