In honour of St David’s Day, we thought we’d celebrate some of the best golf courses in Wales. From the rugged links of the South coast to the famous parkland layouts at venues like Celtic Manor, there is plenty of choice when it comes to golf breaks in Wales and here are five of the best courses in the country that we think are worthy contenders when it comes to naming the best courses in the country.
Let’s kick things off with the daddy of links courses in Wales as I don’t think there would be much argument about the fact that Royal Porthcawl is the finest golf course in Wales.
Located off the beaten track about 30 minutes down the coast from Swansea, Porthcawl offers one of the best links tests in the whole of the UK, highlighted by the fact that it has played host to prestigious championships including the 1995 Walker Cup and is set to welcome this year’s Senior Open Championship.
Royal Porthcawl ticks all of the links golf boxes. Fast running fairways with undulations shaped by the hands of time, devilish pot bunkers and stunning sea views are all present and correct. Just watch out for the gorse which waits to gobble up any stray shots.
The 1st few holes are classic links, as are the closing holes, and sandwiched in between is a stretch that rises to higher, gorse enveloped ground. This part of the course still plays fast and firm like a links but has distinct heathland characteristics as well as boasting amazing views out over the Bristol Channel; the perfect combination when it comes to golf!
The “Royal” moniker might put a few people off but there is nothing stuffy about this place. The clubhouse is a fascinating, museum like place with history oozing from every corner and with mind-blowingly delicious Hake Goujons on offer, relaxing in the company of the friendly staff and members for a post of lunch after a round caps off the experience perfectly.
Royal St David’s
As we’re offering this list in celebration of Sat David’s day, it would be remiss of us to leave out Royal St. David’s and the fact that it is one of the most beautiful courses in the world, and a fine test of golf to boot is really quite convenient!
With Harlech Castle acting as a sentry overlooking the course, the layout weaves its way between towering dunes and offers incredible views of the Bay of Tremadog and the imposing peaks of Snowdonia to the north.
Royal St David’s is an aew-inspiring place to play golf; one of the most beautiful golf courses in existence.
Locals will tell you St David’s is the toughest par 69 you’ll ever face which might come as a surprise as the course measures just 6,500 yards from the tips. However the course is totally exposed to the elements and with a layout that bucks the traditional “out and back” route found at many classic links courses, ducking and weaving in all directions through the dunes, players will constantly have to judge the vagaries of the prevailing westerly wind and returning a score near your handicap first time out will be a considerable achievement.
Celtic Manor Twenty Ten Course
With Ryder Cup mementos at every turn and a golfing experience that includes personalised bag tags and post round club cleaning, a round on the Twenty Ten at Celtic Manor is a really fun experience and the course ain’t too shabby either!
As the 1st eve course to be purpose-built for the Ryder Cup, the Twenty Ten, as you’d expect, is a cracking course for a bit of matchplay. Risk vs. Reward personified, there is water, huge bunkers and forced carries from start to finish so good course management is of paramount importance.
Have your very own matchplay epic on the famous Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor.
As they say, “variety is the spice of life” and the Twenty Ten has it in spades. Opening holes have some links-like features like raised mounds flanking fairways and some deep bunkers which must be avoided.
The course then enters its “Florida” section where holes are flanked by huge expanses of water before it starts its ascent towards the closing holes which were the stages for some amazing Ryder Cup moments.
With a cracker of a closing hole that features a viewing platform over the green from which your friends can watch you sign off on your round, your day on the Twenty Ten will end as memorably as it started with a delicious cooked breakfast in the Twenty Ten Clubhouse.
Nefyn & District
While there are a handful of courses in Wales that might have more prestige and history than Nefyn & District, there are none that can match this Pwllheli gem for looks.
Perched on the cliff tops at the foot of the Porthdinllaen Headland, Nefyn is a thrill ride from start to finish and offers sea views from every hole on the course, meaning actually concentrating on the task in hand is not so easy a task. In fact; on a clear day you might even spot the Wicklow Mountains on the other side of the Irish Sea!
Nefyn & District offers a unique and quirky golf experiecne, a highlight of which is a half way house of sorts in the form of the charming Ty Coch Inn, as seen in the picture above.
To give you an idea of the sheer beauty of Nefyn, it can most accurately be compared to Ireland’s Old Head of Kinsale; this is golf on the edge of the world and packing a camera in your golf bag is a must.
While the layout itself isn’t of the same standard as the likes of Royal Porthcawl, it’s quirky, charming and lots of fun. You even have the Ty Coch Inn awaiting your arrival on the beach at the foot of the cliffs after the 15th hole. A quick beer here and you’ll be nicely lubricated for the closing three holes!
Set on the Gower Peninsula – one of the most dramatic landscapes in the UK – Pennard, like Nefyn & District, offers an intoxicating cliff top golf experience that is often referred to as “the links in the sky”.
Even if the course was a municipal pitch and putt, it would be worth the trip simply to enjoy the views out over the Three Cliff and Oxwich Bays. The fact that the course offers a top class test of golf as well makes Pennard one of the biggest draws in Welsh golf.
With mind-boggling undulations, Pennard lends itself perfectly to the old fashioned “along the ground” style of golf and allows the golfer to play a huge array of creative shots, using the natural lay of the land to their advantage.
Originally designed by the great James Braid, Pennard gained its notoriety following a visit from renowned course architect Tom Doak who pronounced the course to be “one of my all time favourites”. He went on to add that Pennard isn’t for everyone as it is very quirky. Well…here at Your Golf Travel, we love a bit of quirkiness and Pennard is one of the most fun and enjoyable courses around.
At least half of the holes on the course could be labelled as signature holes and despite the paltry total length of just 6,329 yards, when the wind blows things can get really tricky with even the most talented of golfers being provided with a stern test.
No trip to South Wales would be complete without paying Pennard a visit to share an afternoon with the wild ponies and cattle that roam the course.