Following a two-year £2 million investment the new Kernow Course at St Mellion International Resort is now complete.
With the Kernow Course now open, St Mellion – owned and operated by award-winning golf group Crown Golf – once more merits a place in the upper tier of European 36-hole golf resorts.
With nine brand-new holes, and with nine of the best from the original Old Course, this comprehensive redevelopment is set to boost visitor numbers to Cornwall. And the Par 70, 18-hole Kernow Course is now a wonderful complement to the mighty Nicklaus Signature Course, which also winds around St Mellion’s spectacular wooded valleys.
With stunning views and eight brand new USGA-spec greens, The Kernow Course has been created to give golfers a highly enjoyable experience. It is longer than the resort’s original Old Course, with many new tees and hundreds of new trees. 250,000 tonnes of earth have been moved to provide a fresh golfing challenge which, while more benign than the Nicklaus, still has teeth of its own.
Standout holes include the new 1st, a tricky par 5, which demands an accurate first tee shot of the day, and the new 6th, the hardest on the course, which features an unusual approach to the green over a traditional ‘Cornish hedge’. There is a brand-new sequence of holes to start the back nine, where the 10th, 11th and 12th, while relatively short, all ask golfers to make a series of exciting risk-and-reward decisions. But not all is brand new – the picturesque all-or-nothing par 3 14th hole, an old favourite featuring a drop shot across a lake, still adds its charm to the latter part of the round.
Golf course architect Alan Leather was briefed to retain the best of the Old Course in creating a new course which keeps pace with advances in golf equipment technology. Work began in May 2008, with golf course constructors European Golf Services working closely throughout the process with St Mellion’s Course Manager Mike Bush to ensure the new course opened in pristine condition.
“The formal opening of our new Kernow Course is an important factor in St Mellion’s transformation into a stylish and modern resort,” said Crown Golf Chief Executive, Stephen Lewis. “Our two golf courses, set in 450 acres of stunning Cornish countryside, make St Mellion the only English resort to have had full European Tour golf staged on both of its courses. With a fantastic new hotel, and unrivalled leisure, spa and meeting facilities, I believe that St Mellion can now claim to be one of Europe’s leading full-service resorts – and the premier destination for both business and pleasure in the South West of England.”
St Mellion’s Golf Operations Manager, David Moon, is looking forward to the new influx of golfers keen to try out the new Kernow Course. “It has certainly undergone some spectacular changes from the Old Course,” he said. “People hit the ball further nowadays, so our new golf course is longer and a little tighter, and there are some unique and memorable hazards to overcome. However it is still a fair and extremely enjoyable course for golfers of all standards.
“We think that The Kernow Course and The Nicklaus Signature Course now combine to create one of the UK’s finest single-resort golfing experiences.”
In 1976 The Old Course, as it was then known, was designed by J. Hamilton Stutt for the Bond Brothers, and St Mellion was soon heralded as the bright new star of golf in England’s South West.
The Old Course quickly established itself as a leading tournament track, hosting its first major international event – the PGA Cup match between GB & Ireland and the USA – in 1978, and its first European Tour event – the Benson & Hedges International – in 1979. The Tournament Players Championship of Europe, and the Weetabix Ladies’ British Open, both brought professional Tour golf back to the venue, and to Cornwall, in the following years.
When its second course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, opened in 1987, the now-36 hole St Mellion facility became one of the UK’s most outstanding destinations for holidaying golfers, golf societies and corporate golf organisers – a reputation it maintains to this day.
In 2007, St Mellion entered a development period every bit as dramatic as its early years, when successful Australian businessman Jeff Chapman – Chairman of the Bennelong Group of companies, which is Crown Golf’s parent company – personally funded a £20m investment programme at the resort. Chapman, an accomplished sportsman and a former Aussie Rules footballer with Melbourne in the VFL, had a vision to bring Tour golf back to the South West of England, echoing the dream shared by the Bond brothers thirty five years earlier.
St Mellion had become a key focal point in Crown Golf’s long term success strategy since the group acquired it in December 2004 along with the rest of the American Golf group of UK golf clubs. The investment enabled Crown Golf to transform St Mellion into a fitting flagship for the group.
With the Nicklaus Signature Course fully refurbished and reopened in summer 2009, a spectacular new 80-room four star hotel including three dining experiences, thirteen conference and banqueting suites, and a luxurious Spa complex including three swimming pools, and with the announcement that the European Tour will return from 2011 with The English Open, St Mellion has frequently been in the news recently, and has gained many new admirers.
“We have already received great feedback on the improvements, and people seem to be delighted,” said Moon. “There has been a great deal of anticipation for the new Kernow Course. And the change to the name ‘Kernow’ which means Cornwall in the Cornish language, has also been popular.”
Situated near to Saltash in Cornwall, close to the villages, beaches and attractions for which the county is famed, but also within twenty minutes’ drive of Plymouth’s railway and airport, St Mellion offers easy travel links via Air Southwest, a low-cost airline offering daily scheduled flights into Plymouth from 11 airports across Great Britain & Ireland.
The resort is also a boon to the local economy. Hundreds of people are employed there either on full-time or part-time basis, and the St Mellion Economic Impact Final Report (Roger Tym & Partners, Sept 2006) estimates that £2.1m is spent off-site in the area annually by people staying at St Mellion International.
“Whether you come here for business, golf, to celebrate or simply to relax and explore Cornwall, I believe that the comprehensive level and quality of facilities here are unrivalled,” said Stephen Towers, St Mellion’s Resort Director. “My team and I are committed to delivering the highest possible quality, throughout the facility, and we invite all golfers to come and play the new Kernow Course, here at St Mellion International Resort.”
St Mellion International Resort www.st-mellion.co.uk
Crown Golf Group www.crown-golf.co.uk