What are the best golf courses in Wales? The Golf World Top 100 panel ranks the best courses in Cymru.
Welcome to the Golf World Top 100 Best Golf Courses in Wales.
There is not a Top 100 ranking that we’ve published in the past two years that we are not proud of, but the expanded and updated Wales list for 2023 gives us special satisfaction.
When we started ranking the best golf courses in Wales it was a Top 25; 12 years on that number has trebled. Why? And how?
Simply because our panel of experts has become bigger and they have played more courses, meaning our grasp of the Principality is now much more comprehensive.
There are layouts that feature in our best courses in Britain and Ireland and even our guide to the best courses in the world. But most importantly, we have more than 20 debutants in this Top 75. With this expansion and the addition of more panelists, we’d normally expect the task of pulling it all together to be harder. Happily, the opposite has been true. There has been surprising (but pleasing!) synergy across the panel, and that gives us so much confidence in this expanded list.
I really don’t think you’ll find another assessment of the best of Wales that is anywhere near as good.
Your thoughts are most welcome on it, and indeed even more panelists are always welcome – it’s only because I actively sought out more golfers with a breadth of experience in Wales that this ranking is so good, and we are already thinking of how we can make the next one even better.
Chris Bertram, Golf World Top 100 Editor
How we mark the best golf courses in Wales
There are a total of 100 marks awarded, and every golf course is marked using the following criteria to find the best:
Design [40 marks]: A key category, split into three sub-sections: Does the course take advantage of its landscape ; the green complexes ; the routing .
Setting [15 marks]: The aesthetic value of the surrounding views and the course itself. And the overall ‘atmosphere’ of the course – not the club.
Memorability [15 marks]: How easy it is to recall holes? Are they distinctive, varied and interesting. Are they strategic and heroic?
Playability [10 marks]: Is it just too tough, possibly even unfair, for the majority? Or is it easily enjoyed by all?
Consistency [10 marks]: Does every hole deliver all of the above, or is it let down by a few poor ones?
Presentation [10 marks]: Two aspects: is maintenance at ease with its surroundings, and the conditioning of tees, fairways, bunkers and greens.
Best Golf Courses in Wales: Meet the Panel
Richard Allen, Ben Brierley, Phil Davies, Robert Giannotti, Daniel Jones, Rob King, Stephen Lloyd, Gareth Morgan, John Smith, Dai Thomas and Eryl Williams.
If you have knowledge of lots of resorts and courses, we’d love to hear from you. Whether you’re male, female, young, old, low handicap, high handicap, if you’re well-traveled then get in touch with us and you could join our panel.
Best Golf Courses in Wales – 75-51
Machynlleth, West Coast – NEW ENTRY
A nine-holer laid out by James Braid that has a rustic feel, but sits in a lovely spot in the valley. A delight.
74. Henllys Hall
Beaumaris, North Wales – NEW ENTRY
Delightful parkland with three terrific par 5s and scenic views across the Menai Straits and over to Snowdonia.
Aberdare, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
A well-maintained parkland-woodland course with a fine variety of holes.
Caernarfon, North Wales – NEW ENTRY
Located on the edge of the Menai Straits, at the foot of the Eryri National Park and overlooked by Mount Snowdon.
Welshpool, Mid Wales – NEW ENTRY
Undulating moorland-parkland high above the mid Wales town, blessed with terrific views. Two-and-a-half holes are in England.
70. Garnant Park
Ammanford, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
A mixed-terrain course that’s perched above the valley. It impressed in its consistency and its condition.
69. Mountain Ash
Mountain Ash, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
Lofty parkland-moorland with views along the valleys. In excellent condition and great fun.
68. Bangor St Deiniol
Bangor, North Wales – NEW ENTRY
Quirky heathland high above Bangor. Not one for the connoisseur, perhaps, with some crossing holes and blind shots, but it has some fantastic moments.
67. Swansea Bay
Neath, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
Parkland for the most part, then some fabulous holes in the middle linksy section, separated by a motorway. Good condition.
66. Newport Links
Newport, West Coast – NEW ENTRY
An amazing setting overlooking Newport Bay. The front nine is a modern parkland, and the back nine is a traditional links.
Swansea, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
Pay-and-play course owned by same owners as Swansea Bay. Great views and variety of holes, lots of danger off the tee. Its greens are incredible – as good as a championship course.
Swansea, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
Quality parkland-heathland in the hills. Lots of drives from elevated tees and is very scenic, with views across to Brecon Beacons.
Ferndale, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
A fantastic off-the-beaten-track course, high up and overlooking the valleys. Two stunning holes, the rest excellent. “Best-value course in Wales,” says one panelist.
Bargoed, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
A superb but underrated parkland with wonderful views of the Brecon Beacons and a number of attractive holes.
Mold, North Wales – NEW ENTRY
Hugely improved as a result of its development under a new management team.
Carmarthen, West Coast – NEW ENTRY
Challenging, but enjoyable parkland with stunning views of the countryside and Carmathen Bay.
Cardiff, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
Short, with slick and subtle greens that demand precise approach play on an underrated parkland. Benefits from outstanding views over Cardiff and the Bristol Channel. A course that repays repeat visits.
58. Woodlake Park
Pontypool, South Wales – DOWN 8
Undulating, tree-lined fairways on a pretty parkland near the Llandegfedd Reservoir. Its front nine has great views as it is higher up, and the back nine is an excellent parkland/moorland mix.
57. Wenvoe Castle
Wenvoe, South Wales – DOWN 7
An interesting mix of heathland and parkland holes that demand a wide range of shot-making abilities.
56. West Monmouthshire
Ebbw Vale, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
Firm heathland on an exposed plateau. Full of terrific holes and superb views.
Maesteg, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
Undulating quality heathland in a beautiful setting. Low profile, but a joy.
54. Milford Haven
Pembrokeshire, South Wales – DOWN 5
A new entry in 2021, this cute 18-hole parkland runs alongside the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The early holes on this mixed terrain and undulating course are characterized by ponds, while the 7th offers terrific views over Milford Haven Waterway. A lovely setting.
53. Builth Wells
Builth Wells, Mid Wales – DOWN 3
Founded in 1923 as a nine-hole course before it was extended 63 years later. A woodland course among mature trees, there are small greens protected by ridges and slopes to try to find.
Denbigh, North Wales – NEW ENTRY
“Under 6,000 yards but narrow, tree-lined fairways and small, sloping greens in exquisite condition,” says one panelist of this new entry to the Wales ranking.
When we decided to extend our Wales list to 75, it was with the likes of Denbigh in mind; the introduction of this course and many others of this quality illustrate the strength in depth of Wales.
Denbigh was formed in September 1908, the driving force being Guy Francis of the local solicitors’ firm Parry Jones and Francis, Solicitors. The first course was at Ystrad and was described as Cae Tros Ffordd (the field over the road) on the Ystrad fields between Ystrad Road and the Railway Bridge. Nine holes were constructed and was the club’s home until 1918 when it moved to Llanberis.
The course is a delightful parkland that travels over gently undulating land with holes on occasion framed by trees.
In routinely excellent condition, Denbigh has several standout holes but the one that will likely stick longest in your memory is the par-3 9th, a gorgeous short hole with wonderful views over the Vale of Clwyd.
51. Morlais Castle
Cardiff, South Wales – DOWN 4
Located 20 miles north of the capital, Morlais Castle is a moorland course in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons.
With a range of testing holes, the course is set above Merthyr and offers panoramic views of the countryside.
Best Golf Courses in Wales – 50-26
50. St Mellons
Rumney, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
Generous fairways, but some very subtle slopes to the excellent greens and a testing finish on 17 and 18.
49. Vale Resort (Lakes Course)
Hensol, South Wales – DOWN 6
Entered the list for the first time in 2021 and, despite a slight slip down the ranking, the No.2 course remains among the coveted Top 50 best courses in Wales. It is aptly named with water in play on 12 of its holes, ensuring you have to play some highly accurate approach shots.
Abergele, North Wales – DOWN 6
Initially laid out in 1910, Abergele was later rearranged by Fred Hawtree with more recent modifications made by David Williams. It is one of most scenic courses in Wales, with Gwrych Castle the backdrop to this historic course.
Interesting opening and closing holes with long par 4s and 5s and large USGA-spec greens.
47. The Monmouthshire
Llanfoist, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
A lovely parkland in the shadow of the Sugar Loaf mountain, expect several demanding par 3s on the back nine.
Mold, North Wales – NEW ENTRY
Undulating hilltop course with a number of tough blind tee shots. Par 3s are strong. Not the longest, but a great challenge with its hills and greens.
Prestatyn, North Wales – DOWN 4
The most northerly course in the Principality is mainly Fred Collins’ work. The front nine is closer to the sea but based on flatter land, and the holes actually get more sophisticated on the second half. A gentle links with five par 5s. It’s playable all year, has slick greens and a strong back nine.
44. Padeswood & Buckley
Padeswood, North Wales – NEW ENTRY
The first of the new entries in our guide to the best courses in Wales. “Some of the best greens you will play on,” says one panelist. Lovely variety of holes, with water in play on several fine greens. Interesting par 3s.
Rhosneigr, North Wales – UP 5
A nice move up for this springy heathland that is set among the sand dunes of Rhosneigr. This quaint course is the most linksy of the terrific little collection of clubs set on the island of Anglesey and boasts a superbly-contoured set of greens.
42. Cottrell Park (Mackintosh)
Cardiff, South Wales – NEW ENTRY
Much-improved in recent years and is now a fine test from tee to green. Expect it to rise after this entry. The Button Gwinnett course here is also terrific.
Rhuddlan, North Wales – DOWN 5
A small slip for Rhuddlan, which first entered our Wales ranking in 2017. It sits in the Vale of Clwyd and is sheltered by the Clwydian Range. Expect a long but gently undulating parkland with mature trees lining the fairways and large greens. Rhuddlan has benefited from a recent reconfiguration of the layout.
Aberystwyth, West Coast – DOWN 7
Plotted by Harry Vardon above the coastal town, Aberystwyth enjoys sensational views over Cardigan Bay. Plenty of fun holes across the tumbling land – and a screensaver-worthy picture is never far away. Expect a physical workout with some long, uphill par 4s.
Neath, South Wales – DOWN 5
This James Braid heathland course, noted for its especially good condition, comprises trees, heather, gorse, dry stone walls and undulating greens. It is a very good, demanding hillside course with some climbs and several blind shots that test accuracy off the tee – plus delightful views of the Vale of Neath.
Cardiff, South Wales – UP 6
An attractive parkland to the north of Wales’ capital city with several tree-lined fairways criss-crossed by streams that make for a challenge. Excellent pedigree and varied holes across undulating terrain.
37. The Glamorganshire
Penarth, South Wales – DOWN 2
A well-planned parkland course that provides spectacular views over the Bristol Channel, the Vale and across to south-west England. Excellent variation in types of holes. Expect fast, tricky greens.
36. Vale of Llangollen
Llangollen, Mid Wales – UP 4
Formed back in 1908 as a nine-hole course but extended at the end of the ’60s, the trees planted then to add definition are now mature. This parkland offers a tranquil round on the valley floor on the banks of the River Dee with great views. It’s particularly fun watching your ball’s flight against the mountain backdrop.
35. Celtic Manor (Montgomerie Course)
Newport, South Wales – DOWN 4
Colin Montgomerie’s work – in association with European Golf Design – is a very solid backup to the resort’s star attraction. It features Montgomerie’s trademark penal bunkering and challenging greens.
Gorse-lined course with small greens and some blind tee shots. Difficult in the wind. Its front nine has a links feel, the back nine is more heathland.
Holyhead, North Wales – DOWN 4
This superb James Braid heathland enjoys a handsome and enviable location on the Isle of Anglesey. Boasts undulating fairways routed among gorse, heather and bracken, with a links feel to the front nine and a more heathland-style back nine. Expect some blind tee shots, springy, firm turf, and small greens. It’s especially difficult in the wind.
33. Celtic Manor (Roman Road Course)
Newport, South Wales – UP 5
Considered the ‘third’ course at Celtic Manor (one of the best golf resorts in Britain), the Roman Road Course is now above the Montgomerie. It is an interesting examination over a number of attractive and challenging holes. The first of the five-star resort’s courses to be built, it opened in 1995 after being laid out by the legendary American architect Robert Trent Jones Snr. Overlooking the Severn Estuary, with views across to Somerset and Devon, its holes wind between trees and across streams.
Brecon, Mid Wales – UP 7
A decent rise for this CK Cotton design that enjoys a truly outstanding location with magnificent views of the Brecon Beacons. Cradoc is a charming parkland laid out on land that often undulates significantly on the northern side of the Usk Valley. Expect plenty of uphill, downhill and sidehill lies and some really good holes.
Wrexham, North Wales – DOWN 7
Founded in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until James Braid laid out this tree-lined parkland in two loops of returning lines that it had a permanent home. In terrific condition, with great greens and a very good variety of holes – the par 3s are especially good – it has no weak links. Wrexham starts and ends especially strongly. “Always a solid seven or eight out of 10 when you visit,” says one panellist.
Whitchurch, South Wales – UP 2
Established in 1914, this outstanding Hubert Walker parkland is overlooked by 13th Century Castell Coch castle. Expect nicely manicured, lush fairways lined by mature trees, demanding tee shots, compact greens, and enough of a test to have honed the game of Walker Cup legend Nigel Edwards.
Pwllheli, North Wales – DOWN 2
A Tom Morris design that begins as a pleasant, tranquil parkland and moves into a super links section which begins at the 8th. The par-4 9th and short 10th would not be out of place on any course in Britain. If there were more links holes than inland ones, it would be well inside the top 20. Expect undulating fairways and clever bunkering.
28. Vale Resort (National)
Hensol, South Wales – DOWN 3
The National has a fearsome reputation because of its daunting yardage off the tips, but other tees are available and it isn’t all about big hitting. The National features marvellous par 3s and classic risk-reward short par 4s. Opened in 2003, this modern Peter Johnson design is a bigboned woodland course that calls for both length and accuracy. Relatively long walks from green to tee lose it a little favor.
Swansea, South Wales – UP 1
Harry Colt created this course of great pedigree at the entrance to Gower Peninsula in the 1920s and it enjoys stunning views over Swansea Bay. Moorland in nature, Colt’s routing takes the holes across two loops of nine over the natural land with elan and this is an adventure that traverses gorse, bracken, pot bunkers, humps and bumps to produce holes of real character. Well-kept fairways and greens that offer a fine test.
26. Llandudno (Maesdu)
Llandudno, North Wales – NO CHANGE
This course is a delightful mix of parkland and links holes, designed by the masterful James Braid. It enjoys views across Conwy Bay, from Great Orme’s Head to the mountains of Snowdonia, and is a pristinely-conditioned course whether on the seaside or inland holes. Expect great views, plenty of elevation changes, tough par 3s and superb greens. Also features in our best golf courses you can play for £60 and under.
Best Golf Courses in Wales – 25-11
25. Langland Bay
Swansea, South Wales – DOWN 2
The end to both nines at this James Braid design are breathtaking, inviting comparisons with Pebble Beach. The 360-degree views certainly take the breath away, thanks to the course being perched on cliffs high above the golden sands of Gower. Visually epic.
Glorious setting on the coast, west of Swansea, with views of two different bays. Several superb holes – notably the par-3 16th and par-4 17th – and others subject to the demands of intersecting fairways.
Newport, South Wales – UP 5
Set among the birch, beech and oak trees of Llwyni Wood, Newport is a fine woodland-parkland that moves along gently undulating, lush fairways. A classy feel to a mature parkland.
Another notable rise, Newport is an excellent parkland with undulating fairways and fine greens. Pleasing location in the Gwent countryside.
Cardiff, South Wales – UP 14
A significant rise for a course that is improving all the time. Radyr was shaped by Willie Fernie – the first man to design it, in 1901 – CK Cotton and Harry Colt. Located 300ft above sea level, it consequently enjoys very fine views overlooking the city of Cardiff and the Bristol Channel.
Some of the finest and fastest greens in South Wales and some very testing holes, especially on the back nine.
22. Llandrindod Wells
Llandrindod Wells, Mid Wales – NO CHANGE
This rolling heathland dates back to 1905 and benefits from the nous of Harry Vardon and James Braid. It enjoys a brilliantly diverse set of holes incorporating ridges, humps and hollows that give rise to blind shots, some great architectural features, a couple of high-class par 3s and memorable two-shotters. Set high above the town you can expect great views, along with excellent conditioning. The last few holes running down to the clubhouse are truly outstanding.
21. Borth & Ynyslas
Aer Y Mor, West Coast – NO CHANGE
Despite it being one of the oldest courses in Wales, Borth often flies under the radar. It is not in as pristine condition as its championship neighbors further up the coast, but don’t let that put you off this charming seaside course. The far end of this classic out-and-back links is reached at the 8th and the road home begins with a classy short hole, ‘Dyfi’. That’s followed by arguably the best run at Borth, a three-hole stretch offering a strong par 4, a downhill par 3 across the site, and a sporty two-shotter – all characterized by amphitheater green complexes that are in superb condition.
20. Marriott St Pierre (Old Course)
Chepstow, South Wales – DOWN 5
Ross McMurray’s parkland has slipped from its highest-ever position in our 2021 ranking of the best golf courses in Wales, but the Old remains among the finest in the south of the country. The tranquil course has a brilliant variety of holes and has seen heavy investment in the last decade. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a resort course – the Old is strong enough to have been a long-time Tour venue and a host of the Solheim Cup.
Welshpool, Mid Wales – UP 1
Amazing and exhilarating, this is one for the adventurous. Welshpool dates back to the 1890s, but moved from its original location in Deer Park in 1930 and very astutely engaged James Braid to lay out their new course. This high-up moorland features steep drops, and steep inclines, and often plays firm and fast. There aren’t any bunkers, but it doesn’t need them as Braid has worked the hilly land so expertly.
Abersoch, West Coast – DOWN 2
We have championed this Harry Vardon design in the past four Wales rankings. Really fun links which can be described as ‘holiday golf’ – but what’s wrong with entertaining, playable, scenic seaside golf? The 5th to the 10th beside the sea are world-class links holes, the rest are ‘merely’ very good. The newer section – from 13 to 17 – loses it a mark for consistency, consigning it to a small drop.
Cardigan, South Wales – UP 2
Hard to define, given it moves seamlessly into different phases – mainly links, but also moorland and even meadowland – but the common themes are fantastic turf and terrific holes. Founded in 1895, expect wonderful views of the Teifi Estuary, plenty of gorse and elevation changes, plus good greens and an epic climax.
16. North Wales
Llandudno, North Wales – UP 1
A nudge up the list for this ‘proper’ links with fast, true greens and lovely short holes. Hoylake luminaries John Ball and Harold Hilton played a key part in the development of this short and quirky course. Located among sand hills and valleys on the West Shore in Llandudno, this is 6,300 yards of absolute delight.
15. Rolls of Monmouth
The Hendre, South Wales – DOWN 1
We were a little slow to recognize the class of Rolls before it entered the top 20 best golf courses in Wales in 2021, but it definitely belongs here. An unknown designer made a fine job of laying it out on either side of a forested hill in an estate once owned by the Rolls (Royce) family. Accuracy is a premium on this beautifully laid-out and undulating parkland with fast greens. The outstanding par-3 18th hole is a great finish to what is a quality course.
Porthmadog, West Coast – DOWN 1
A James Braid design that is the archetypal course of two halves. The parkland front nine feels like something of a warm-up and while there are some pleasant holes, it is the links section after the turn that really impresses and keeps it in touch with the Principality’s elite. Offers fantastic views and holes.
13. Machynys Peninsula
Llanelli, South Wales – UP FIVE
Another nice rise for this Jack Nicklaus design. Its testing combination of large lakes and bunkers with undulating greens makes it a challenge that most of the panel really enjoy.
Machynys has been in every one of our rankings of Wales’ best golf courses, but this is the first time it has been in the top 15. ‘Machynys’ means ‘Monks Island’ and while it is not a links à la Porthcawl, it has a seaside location and water hazards play a huge part in this brawny modern course.
12. Bull Bay
Amlwch, North Wales – NO CHANGE
Herbert Fowler sprinkled some magic in Wales on an undulating clifftop course on Anglesey that is now established at the top end of our ranking. The best course on Anglesey is a tough heathland with elevated tees and good greens. Full of ridiculously good holes from start to finish. Fowler routed holes through valleys and between rocky outcrops and gorse. A class act – it would not be out of place in the top 10.
11. Nefyn & District
Nefyn, West Coast – NO CHANGE
You see images like the one above and wonder why Nefyn is not in the top 10 – and certainly, if you are bowled over by views then you’ll think it should be top three. Only Ireland’s Old Head (one of the best golf courses in Ireland) matches it for setting and the fun ‘old’ nine out on the peninsula is bucket-list stuff. But the headland site means the routing is awkward and some holes are compromised a little.
Best Golf Courses in Wales – 10-1
10. Celtic Manor (Twenty Ten Course)
Newport, South Wales – NO CHANGE
“A great course and you are walking in the steps of Ryder Cup legends. It would be my No.4.” That was a typical assessment of the Twenty Ten, a superb modern course that offers a tough but fair test around many water hazards.
This is a stellar inland course, which has been among our Great Britain and Ireland ranking. Ross McMurray’s thrill-a-minute design offers lots of risk-reward moments and, of course, the atmosphere of a Ryder Cup and DP World Tour host.
9. Pyle & Kenfig
Bridgend, South Wales – DOWN 1
It sounds horribly cliched, but this really is a course of two halves – and a really challenging links. The front half is good but, frankly, you go to P&K for the awesome holes cut through the dunes. Played towards the end of the day, with weak sunlight casting shadows across rippling fairways, it’s a peerless experience. Expect pot bunkers and strong par 3s.
Tenby, South Wales – UP 1
We have a real soft spot for Tenby, a terrific natural links on the Pembrokeshire coast. It’s more than the ‘holiday links’ it is sometimes described as and has some wonderful holes. Benefits from a lovely location with heavily-contoured greens, many asking for blind shots and guarded by forbidding pot bunkers. We love the green complexes.
Burry Port, South Wales – NO CHANGE
From the 3rd to 15th inclusive, Ashburnham boasts 13 of the best links golf holes in the Principality. The short 6th, the par-4 9th, and the par-5 14th give you the charming, the challenging, and the characterful. It starts modestly otherwise it could be higher, but this is the real deal and the greens are always in superb condition.
Bridgend, South Wales – DOWN 1
Fernie, Fowler, Park, Colt and Steel all had a hand in a moorland course with hints of links and heathland. The springy turf is magic and there’s a plentiful supply of gorse and sand, which call for plenty of straight shots. Expect constant breezes across its elevated fairways, a 1st hole that is a real battle and a brutal closing stretch!
Conwy, South Wales – UP 1
An open links for 12 holes, Conwy tightens for the last six with lots of gorse in play. It has a wonderful setting as it wraps around the bay with mountains on the other side and it constantly challenges the golfer through numerous direction changes.
Played host to the Curtis Cup in 2021 and recent improvements have nudged it up into the top five best golf courses in Wales.
Aberdovey, West Coast – NO CHANGE
The fourth of Wales’ GB&I Top 100 entrants, Aberdovey has an enviable soul and character with a feel of ‘golf as it used to be’. Its 6,703 yards are neither short nor forgiving, but you are in love after the 1st thanks to the white shell paths, the wispy rough, the dunes, the delicious turf, and the salty air. The opening and closing sections are as goof as anything you’ll find in the Principality, and even the quieter middle phase is still solid links golf.
Swansea, South Wales – NO CHANGE
“Every single hole is brilliant,” says one panellist. This testing clifftop links with sloping fairways and narrow, challenging greens enjoys wonderful views of the Gower Peninsula and has lots of challenging, memorable holes.
Could easily be higher – some even have it as their No.1 and looking at the 4th hole above, it’s little wonder. James Braid and CK Cotton did a fine job routing this unique course to harness the views and turn the funky land into fun holes.
2. Royal St David’s
Harlech, West Coast – NO CHANGE
‘Harlech’ is a links for the connoisseur; for that group of golfers, it is a little piece of heaven.
It is routed among robust dunes under the nose of brooding Harlech Castle, with views of the sweeping bay of Tremadog and across to Snowdon and Snowdonia.
Harold Finch-Hatton, son of the Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham and William Henry More, then Crown Agent for Wales, were the men with the ambition and foresight to establish a links in Harlech in 1894.
It was altered after World War Two when Guy Campbell was asked to revise the links but there remains a feeling of natural, raw authenticity to this links.
Recognised as one the toughest par 69s around, this penultimate hole is part of a fine closing loop taking in all of the aspects of the links game that make it so inviting.
Prior to it you tackle a succession of long two-shotters and tough par 3s; Royal St David’s is a championship test that requires effort to tame her.
It has hosted numerous elite amateur events down the years as well as both the leading senior and lady golfers on the main professional tours in Europe.
1. Royal Porthcawl
Rest Bay, South Wales – NO CHANGE
The clear No.1, Porthcawl is not only atop the best golf courses in Wales, but one of the finest courses in Britain and Ireland, and a World Top 100 entry.
Due to the absence of dune corridors found on many elite links, it famously delivers a view of the sea from every hole, as well as south to Somerset and Exmoor and across Swansea Bay to the Gower Peninsula. Instead, undulating terrain created by blown sand climbs away from the captivating opening three beachside holes and characterizes this world-class links. Marram, gorse and heather cover the rolling hillside, although vegetation has admirably being scraped back in recent years to reveal original authentic sandy areas.
As per every classic links, Porthcawl is not all about brawn, with the placement of drives between what can be thick rough and mastering the often fast-running conditions as important as thumping it miles. The victory of notoriously short-hitting Gary Wolstenholme over Tiger Woods – in his wondrously athletic but wild youth – in the Walker Cup of 1995 is exhibit A.
Then there is a set of greens that are routinely slick and uncommonly contoured, with putting into bunkers not unheard of. A famous female golfer of yesteryear is said to have gone one better and lost a ball while putting downhill and downwind on the 5th!
Now up to 7,100 yards from the back tees, the 6,580 off the whites will be ample for all but single-figure players – and the 6,300 off the yellows advisable for most. The regular changes in direction, with holes pointed in every direction on the compass, is another strong theme here and ensures it is always testing and interesting.
The aforementioned first three holes head in a north-westerly direction as they hug the coastline, the 3rd green being the point to the ‘triangle’ of land on which Porthcawl is laid out. It is a truly epic start, and by the time you walk off that green you are likely to be already enthused by Porthcawl, our Wales No.1 for two more years.
– Best Golf Courses in England
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