WELSH LINKS

Wales’ north-west coast is one of the un­der­rated links golf re­gions in Great Bri­tain, writes An­drew Mar­shall.

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS - WORDS AN­DREW MAR­SHALL PHO­TOG­RA­PHY PAUL MAR­SHALL

There’s some­thing ex­tra spe­cial about play­ing golf by the sea and most golfers trav­el­ling to the Bri­tish Isles want to play links cour­ses when they visit. All the clas­sic coastal in­gre­di­ents are here in abun­dance – in­spir­ing ocean views, crash­ing waves, rum­pled fair­ways, un­du­lat­ing greens, tricky pot bunkers and a taste of salt in the sea air – the type of place where the golf­ing fore­fa­thers once strode the sheep-cropped turf with their hick­ory clubs and gutta per­cha golf balls.

When it comes to play­ing golf by the sea, the ma­jor­ity of golfers will think of Scot­land’s Ayr­shire coast, Ire­land’s west coast or per­haps Eng­land’s Lan­cashire coast – but what fol­lows is a jour­ney to a lesser-known re­gion, one that em­braces a clus­ter of chal­leng­ing sea­side cour­ses along the north-west coast of Wales be­tween Ne­fyn on the Llyn Penin­sula and south to the thriv­ing lit­tle har­bour re­sort of Aber­dovey – 75 miles of top-notch golf with a uniquely Welsh sea­side flavour.

NE­FYN & DISTRICT GOLF CLUB

Dra­mat­i­cally po­si­tioned on cli… tops at the foot of the Porthdin­l­laen head­land, that juts out from the Llyn Penin­sula into the Ir­ish Sea, Ne­fyn & District Golf Club is the Welsh equiv­a­lent of Ire­land’s Old Head of Kin­sale, but much more a…fford­able to play.

This spec­tac­u­lar cli…-top lay­out is a unique 27-hole course with sea views from ev­ery hole, con­sist­ing of the 18-hole, par-71 Old Course and the 9-hole par-33, New Course. The run of holes on the Old Course from the 12th on­wards along the penin­sula – played into a howl­ing wind with fair­ways and tees perched above se­cluded coves and tiny in­lets on one side, and a sandy beach on the other – will live long in the mem­ory re­gard­less of your score or the weather.

If you fancy a quick pint be­fore the fi­nal three holes, then take the foot­path after the par-4 15th that leads down to Porthdin­l­laen Beach to en­joy a pint at the Ty Coch Inn with mar­vel­lous views across the bay to Mount Snow­don. www.ne­fyn-golf-club.co.uk

PWLL­HELI GOLF CLUB

Set on the south-fac­ing coast­line of spec­tac­u­lar Cardi­gan Bay (an eight-mile drive across the other side of the Llyn Penin­sula) is Pwll­heli Golf Club (pro­nounced Pwlh-hell-ee), sit­u­ated on the out­skirts of the friendly sea­side town of the

...FANCY A QUICK PINT BE­FORE THE FI­NAL THREE HOLES ... TAKE THE FOOT­PATH AFTER THE 15TH DOWN TO PORTHDIN­L­LAEN BEACH TO THE TY COCH INN.

same name.

This in­ter­est­ing golf course is a tale of two halves, blend­ing a col­lec­tion of park­land holes (1-7) with a links back nine – the best of both worlds. Stand­ing on the el­e­vated tee of the par-4 8th, with the peb­bly shore­line to your left, it is pos­si­ble to time travel back to 1900 when leg­endary Old Tom Mor­ris carved Pwll­heli’s first nine holes out of the ex­posed links land bor­der­ing Traeth Cru­gan beach.

The lay­out was later ex­tended to a full 18-holes in 1909 by an­other fa­mous Scot of the time, five-time Open cham­pion James Braid. Braid’s tree-lined fair­ways are routed through ma­ture park­land, with the last of the in­land holes, the tough 440-yard par-4 7th re­quir­ing two good hits to reach the putting sur­face. A mem­o­rable hole that typ­i­fies Pwll­heli’s links sec­tion is the test­ing 197-yard par-3 10th, with the beach to the left, and be­yond the green well-pro­tected by deep-faced pot bunkers is a white-washed cot­tage adding to the pic­turesque scene as you play. www.clw­b­gol pwll­heli.com

PORTH­MADOG GOLF CLUB

A 16-mile drive head­ing east along the coast takes you to Porth­madog Golf Club de­signed by James Braid in 1905. Like the afore­men­tioned course, this is an­other hy­brid mix of a park­land/ heath­land front nine and a links in­ward half set on a head­land at Morfa By­char, three miles from the at­trac­tive har­bour town of Porth­madog.

The golf course is some­thing of a split per­son­al­ity – and, al­though the front nine is de­cent enough, it’s after play­ing the down­hill par-3 9th and cross­ing the road to tee o“ on the

par-4 10th, that the feel and land­scape to­tally changes into 9-holes of mem­o­rable links golf. Be­fore hit­ting o from the el­e­vated tee of the par3 13th, make sure to take a few mo­ments to soak in the stun­ning panorama of Sam­son’s Bay on one side and the coast­line ex­tend­ing back to­wards Pwll­heli on the other – it’s worth the green fee alone. www.porth­madog-golf-club.co.uk

ROYAL ST. DAVID’S GOLF CLUB

Sit­u­ated around the other side of the Glaslyn Es­tu­ary from Porth­madog, on the out­skirts of Har­lech is Royal St. David’s Golf Club es­tab­lished in 1894.

“Small won­der if the vis­i­tor falls in love with Har­lech at first sight,” wrote Bernard Dar­win in The Golf Cour­ses of the Bri­tish Isles, “for no golf course in the world has a more splen­did back­ground than the old cas­tle, which stands at the top of a sheer precipice of rock look­ing down over the links.”

As you play, there are splen­did views of the brood­ing pres­ence of the 13th-cen­tury Har­lech Cas­tle and a back­drop of the Snow­don Moun­tains be­yond. Royal St. David’s is known for its se­ries of long de­mand­ing par-4 holes (seven are over 400 yards) and five short holes, which vary in length and di­rec­tion, and it’s fair to say your score has to be made on the out­ward nine as the course just gets stronger and tougher on the in­ward half.

No­table holes in­clude the gor­geous par-3 11th played through a gap in the dunes to a blind

AS YOU PLAY, THERE ARE SPLEN­DID VIEWS OF THE BROOD­ING PRES­ENCE OF THE 13TH-CEN­TURY HAR­LECH CAS­TLE.

green, and the stern sig­na­ture par-4 15th where two pre­cise shots are called for to reach the green hid­den in a hol­low. Royal St.David’s rep­re­sents good value for money, es­pe­cially if you can book a day rate or a twi­light tee time after 3pm. www.roy­al­st­davids.co.uk

ABER­DOVEY GOLF CLUB

A quirky way to reach the fi­nal course of our north Wales coastal quin­tet (es­pe­cially if you are us­ing Har­lech as your golf­ing base) is to catch the train from Har­lech sta­tion to Aber­dovey.

The 75-minute jour­ney is not only very scenic, hug­ging the coast­line and stop­ping at quaint sea­side towns and vil­lages en-route, but once you ar­rive at Aber­dovey, it’s lit­er­ally only a short chip shot’s walk away to the course on the other side of the train track.

Golf has been played on this nar­row strip of links land wedged be­tween beach and rail­way line since 1892, and three of the leg­endary ar­chi­tects of the early 20th-cen­tury – namely Harry Colt, James Braid and Her­bert Fowler have all played a part in shap­ing Aber­dovey.

There’s no bet­ter way to fin­ish off a round at this old-fash­ioned out-and-back links es­pe­cially if the sun is shin­ing, than t o en­joy a beer on the club­house bal­cony over­look­ing the 1st and 18th holes. Ad­ja­cent to the club­house is a dormy bun­ga­low ac­com­mo­da­tion fa­cil­ity for golfers to stay on site. www.ab­er­dovey­golf.co.uk

HARRY COLT, JAMES BRAID AND HER­BERT FOWLER HAVE ALL PLAYED A PART IN SHAP­ING ABER­DOVEY.

Ne­fyn & District GC of­fers sea views from ev­ery hole as it treks out onto the head­land.

Ne­go­ti­at­ing the turn on a calm day at Ne­fyn & District GC.

While play­ing Ne­fyn & District, en­joy a pint at the Ty Coch Inn on Porthdin­l­laen Beach.

The pretty par-3 10th hole at Pwll­heli (top); the par-4 10th green at Porth­madog (be­low)

The green of the pic­turesque par-4 12th hole at Porth­madog with fab­u­lous coastal views.

The stun­ning dunescape sur­round­ing the 15th hole at Royal St. David’s GC.

Royal St.David’s has been touted as a fu­ture Open Cham­pi­onship venue.

Aber­dovey’s su­perb par-3 3rd hole leaves lit­tle room for er­ror.

Aber­dovey GC from the air.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.