St Mellion Kernow Feature Review
The 2nd course at St Mellion, the Kernow underwent a major facelift with, in effect 9 new holes being added in 2010 including 8 new USGA greens. This expansion, along with a refurbishment of the hotel has seen St Mellion elevated to the status of a truly international standard two course resort.
For the higher handicapper staying at St Mellion and playing both of its courses, the Kernow will provide some respite after the exacting test of the Nicklaus. At 5297 yards off the yellows, it is some 1100 yards shorter than Jacks layout, although it is a par 70 rather than a par 72. Both the Nicklaus and the Kernow interlace across the same plot of land and it is the terrain that really impacts the level of the challenge offered by the Kernow. The kernow lacks the perilous drops tracking the length of fairways and the daunting carries that make the Nicklaus so punishing. Fairways and greens are equally well manicured, but the former are wider and the latter less guarded. Errant shots can frequently be salvaged with less damage to the scorecard. That said, the course is far from defenceless, and the golfer who throws caution to the wind will likely do so at a cost, especially on the back 9, with its dramatic changes in elevation.
The 14th is one of the kernow's signature holes. A stunning par 3, off the yellows it is a 135 yard carry across water to the wide but shallow green below. Despite the water it's one of those inviting elevated tee shots and produces a satisfying thud if fortunate enough to find the putting surface.
The 3rd is the longest Par 3 at a challenging 197yrds. In all there are 5 par 3's all offering a different challenge, with the 16th part of the 1979 'old' course layout.
Although only 342 yards the right dogleg 6th is a great par 4 and not surprisingly stroke index 1. An accurate downhill tee shot is required as the fairway narrows at the corner of the dogleg. The approach is then uphill to an [upturned] green. It may look innocuous on the scorecard but par here is a good score.
The Kernow's most memorable par 4s are on the back 9, where the sharp changes in elevation and inspiring views of the Nicklaus course will leave you eager to return. The shorter par 4s won't necessarily be to everyone's taste, but for the higher handicapper getting on the green in one on the 220 yard 10th will be exhilarating.
The 17th is noteable for it's two tier fairway which offers a options off the tee and a challenging shot to the green. The 13th is also a good hole and part of the original design. It was tweaked in 2010. It demands a straight shot off the tee with the fairway lined by trees on either side and drop downhill making the 2nd shot difficult to club.
An unusual layout, all 3 par 5s are on the front 9 and two in the first two holes. The opening holes are welcoming par 5s. At 435 and 464 yards they are reachable in two with well placed tee shots and could get you of to a great start if you can take advantage. The 9th is stronger, at 526 yards uphill to a small, well protected green, getting a birdie here is a more significant achievement.
The 10th, 11th and 12th provide a really great strech of well designed risk and reward style holes. These are new to the course and a great addition. While you can score through this section as they are relatively short, I would advise caution as the sweeping elevation changes can catch you out.
The Par 3 14th is perhaps themost spectacular hole on the course with a green placed below you and a carry over water required - A great short hole that will leave you wanting more.
Post Round Thoughts
While clearly the 2nd course at St Mellion, the Kernow offers a welcome restbite from the incredibly tough Nicklaus and despite the obvious lower level of challenge its still provides a good test with large changes of elevation. Water is also regularly in play.
I played in early September and it was in fanatstic condidtion, with the greens and fairways prepared and running at the same speed as the Nicklaus. This is to the credit of Crown, the owner and operator of the course. Often the second course at a resort does not recieve the same care and attention as the flagship course, but this is clearly not the case at St Mellion.
When you couple the Kernow with the Nicklaus and the brilliant hotel, you cannot argue that St Mellion is right up there with the UK's elite Resorts.
Golfshake Rating - Kernow Course - 7/10
Images - Magic Hour Photography
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