If you’re looking to get out for a swift nine holes while on holiday in North Cornwall, Ivyleaf Golf Course is just the ticket. If you’re looking to play on a finely manicured course with fast, true high quality greens, then you’ll be disappointed. Ivyleaf is a short nine hole track with greens that wouldn’t look out of place on a pitch and putt, yet it didn’t take anything away from my enjoyment of the place. The morning I spent there was a lot of fun and I absolutely loved it.
The views are spectacular, the course is challenging and for £12.50 it’s a perfect way to spend a few hours. It’s not always possible to play 18 holes if you’re away on a family holiday, and the other courses (the fancy ones) in the area I looked at didn’t offer a nine hole green fee. I didn’t like the idea of spending £50 to only be able to play half of the course so when I saw Ivyleaf I decided to check it out.
There’s a driving range there but it’s fairly basic. Ideal if you just want to warm up before playing, not so ideal if you’re looking to do serious practice. But it’s a holiday destination, so serious practice is probably not on most people’s menu. This place is perfect for holiday makers (there is a camp site located here too) and beginners, but it’s enough of a challenge for good players too.
When I played here I was the first person to arrive that day so I had the entire course to myself and I certainly made the most of that. I took as many photographs as I hit shots I think and I just strolled around at my own leisure, taking in the wonderful scenery and enjoying the weather. It was a perfect morning for golf. Very little wind, sunshine and clear blue skies. I was in my element.
As for the course, the only disappointing thing was the greens but I genuinely didn’t really care. They certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of what is a quirky little course with plenty of challenging shots, several of them blind. I love this place and if I’m holidaying down there again I will definitely go back.
Playing it for the first time is tricky though so I’ll be much better prepared next time. For one thing, I won’t play the 6th hole twice by mistake! I came off the 8th green and must have taken a wrong turn as I ended up on the 6th tee. My GPS watch went haywire and was showing the green in the opposite direction to what I was playing, but I didn’t even realise what was happening and just thought the watch was glitching.
Even though I’d played the hole not 45 minutes earlier I didn’t remember it, even after I’d birdied it for a second time. I actually saw the number six on the flagstick and it still didn’t dawn on me. I thought the flag was on upside down! It was only when I couldn’t find the car park that I eventually I figured out my mistake and went off in search of the 9th tee. In my defence, it wasn’t signposted, but there’s still no excuse for not realising.
It’s a short hole (120yds) but it might be the trickiest hole on the course. You tee off at the bottom of a steep hill and the green is at the top of it, but it’s a blind shot as you can’t see the green, just the top of the flag. Club selection is a nightmare even when there’s no wind. I went with a 9 iron as I was worried about going long, into the unseen, but because of the steepness of the hill it plays much longer than that.
Anything short won’t reach the tiny green as there’s a mound in front of it, and anything long is in trouble. Hitting and holding the green is really tough, especially with the 6 or 7 iron it’s likely to need. I don’t think I could have done it if I’d hit 20 shots from that tee. For the record, I made double after coming up short and right and then fluffing my initial pitch shot. This was possibly the best green on the course though.
This hole is easier than it looks from the tee and on the approach shot. It’s a very short par 5 which the average golfer can certainly reach in two. Higher handicap players will be better off playing it as a three shot par 5 and trying to stay up the left side. Going up the right shortens the hole but you won’t be able to see the green when playing your second shot and that puts doubt in your mind. The rough on the right hand side looks like it runs for miles. It doesn’t, it’s an optical illusion and you can clear it easily.
As I wrote above, I played this hole twice and made four on both occasions. Both times I drove up the right side and could not see where the green was. My GPS watch gave me the yardage to the green for my second shot but my eyes were deceiving me and I went with more club than I probably needed. The first time (see video above) I had a tricky lie in the semi rough and attempted to hit a 2 hybrid. The club got caught up and it didn’t come out great. I thought it had failed to clear the rough but when I got to the top of the hill it became clear that I only needed to carry it 120 yards to find the fairway. The ball had cleared the rough and was just short of the green.
The second time I played it was the same, only I had a better lie for my second shot. I hit a 7 wood and again I thought I’d failed to clear the rough. Again I got up there to see my ball just short of the green. So you have two ways to play this hole. Up the left, which is the longer route but much less stressful as you can see where you are going. Or you can go up the right and trust the numbers rather than your eyes.
The views of the Bude coast from the tee and as you walk up this fairway are spectacular and it was my favourite hole on the course.
This is a great hole. Once you have played it then it becomes much more straightforward, but if you’re playing it for the first time then the tee shot is a nightmare. I stood on the tee for a good few minutes trying to decide how to play it. It’s a sharp dogleg left but you can’t see the green and it’s therefore tricky to know how much of the dogleg to try and cut off, if any.
I elected to hit driver straight down the fairway and just aim at the big trees in the distance, but the fairway is elevated and then slopes down steeply, so you don’t know how close the trees are. My ball had ran through the fairway into the trees, so the correct play here is to lay up with a hybrid or even mid iron and then hit a wedge in.
A fairly straightforward par 3 but the views from the tee and as you walk down to the green are stunning. Unlike some of the other par 3 holes it is fairly level and you won’t get too much run from either side, so you need to be accurate and hit the green. There’s trouble on either side if you’re wayward but you do have a fair bit of wiggle room as long as you don’t miss by too much.
Quick Strategy Guide
The only danger on the 1st is a small pond to the right of the green. Aim for the left side of the green.
The 2nd is a blind tee shot but there’s room up the left side. Anything on or left of the marker will be fine. Anything right might find the rough.
On the 3rd hole everything kicks down the hill to the left. You need to be up the right side to have any chance of holding the green. The views from up here are stunning.
The 4th is severely uphill and the green is very small. At the top of the hill it flattens out but then there’s another little ridge in front of the green, so it’s a difficult green to hit and hold.
On the 5th, don’t go left. You can go right and get away with it as there’s a bit of room and your ball might even trundle down towards the green, but the left is lined with trees.
On the 6th, the left is the safe route but if you go down the right it’s shorter. See below for full description.
The tee shot on the 7th is completely blind. Longer hitters can try to cut off the dogleg and go for the green, but for everyone else the play is to aim at the middle one of the big trees and hit hybrid or mid iron down there.
The 8th is a straightforward par 3 of around 150yds. You can see the green and there’s a bit of room either side for an errant shot. Not too errant though, or you’ll find the trees.
The 9th is tricky as it’s a blind tee shot with trouble both sides. Hitting driver is risky and unnecessary as the fairway is incredibly narrow. Lay up and hit a short iron in.
The course itself would be at best a 3 out of 5 because of the ropey greens, but the great value for money, quirky nature of some of the holes and how enjoyable it is to play, not to mention the simply stunning views brings it up to a very solid 4.