UK Golf Guide
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Golf in North Wales
Golf trip feature from Rob Corcoran, Teeofftimes.co.uk Account Manager, who recently went on a golf trip to North Wales playing some of the courses in the area.
If someone asked you what would make your perfect round of golf, what criteria would you say? An empty course? Great scenery? A cheap green fee? And probably a sub 70 round thank you very much. Step forward the glorious coastline of North Wales
It may not be the most glamorous golfing destination in the UK, but in 2011 it was one of the biggest growth areas for golf tourism in Europe. Why? I refer you to the list above, and although a sudden transition to pro-level golf may not be guaranteed, the other factors will go a long way to inspiring you to achieve great things on the course.
Where to Play
Where to play then? Well, if you draw the line at the River Dovey, there are 50 courses to choose from, these range from 9 holes on a mountainside with an honesty box and some of the most spectacular scenery you can find to some of the best championship links courses in the British Isles. A common theme you’ll find amongst them is the feeling of isolation that even the most exclusive courses in the UK will struggle to offer.
Talk to the locals about where is best to play and you’ll get a different response every time. The trickiest layout, the smoothest greens, the most accessible, the best value. Each course has its own unique selling point and none will disappoint.
Porthmadog Golf Club
For the truest links try the back nine of Porthmadog. This is very much a course of two halves and the inward stretch is where this course really comes alive with the most beautiful and natural links holes you can find. Golf has been played here since 1905 when the locals identified the area as an idyllic landscape on which to play the ancient game. James Braid, a master of golf course design, improved and extended the layout roughly to what it is today and must have been delighted by the land he had to work with.
As you stand on the 10th tee, the perfect golfing landscape opens up before you. A rolling links fairway with not a flat lie to speak of, the green almost dug into the surrounding dunes, and the often snow-capped backdrop of the Snowdonia range in the distance. A number of very original holes follow the likes of which you’ll probably not find elsewhere in the world of golf, particularly the towering dunes of the aptly named Himalayas. However, the one that really sticks in the mind is the 400 yard, par 4 14th. The bumps and rolls of the fairway look as if a green carpet has been thrown over a miniature fairground, and if you’re lucky enough to find yourself with a reasonable lie for your approach you’ll need to carry it in to an elevated green that is sunk into its own sand dune crater.
Nefyn and District Golf Club
How about scenery then? Nefyn and District, say no more. It sparks a lot of debate amongst the locals and the course has received a lot of coverage for that picture, but for the sheer beauty and views this course is as good as any in the world. Another of Braid’s magnificent creations it must have taken real vision to conceive just how to build a golf course in this amazing location. There are 27 holes here, both loops of 18 play a common front 10, then there is the option to play the old or new back 8. From the start, you work your way out to sea and play along the cliff tops on what is predominantly heathland terrain. The tee of the par 3, 5th at the furthest extremity of the course is quite literally perched on top of the rocks with the Irish Sea crashing in to the coves beneath.
The back 8 of the old course is where this course has made its name where a collection of holes have somehow been carefully tailored to fit on their own peninsula. The 13th is the pick of the bunch, a 435 yard par 4 dogleg with a drive that carries over the sea. It is tempting to bite off a large chunk to leave yourself with an easy approach, but with the inevitable sea breeze it is a difficult shot to judge. If you get a chance pop down the coastal path to the Ty Coch Inn, not quite the halfway house, but it you need a bit of Dutch courage before you tackle the tip of the peninsula, this is the place to find it.
This isn’t your average golf course and if you like a place where you know what to expect, you won’t find it here. Quirky, unique, spectacular.
Conwy Golf Club
So which is the crème de la crème? The one that has it all? Throw this question into the ring and you’ll receive countless different responses from the many avid golfers of North Wales. A popular favourite however is the immaculate links of Conwy Golf Club.
Host to this year’s Welsh Seniors Open and the only course in the country to have hosted Open qualifying, the club was formed in 1890 by a breakaway group of members from Royal Liverpool who could see the potential that the undulating dunes had. Set at the foot of the Conwy Mountain there are wondrous vistas out to sea and across the Conwy estuary to the Great Orme and Llandudno.
A classic links course, many of the holes are punctuated by heavy gorse which gives colour to the relatively flat championship layout. The gentle walking does not lack variety as the diversity between the holes is astonishing with very few fairways playing in the same direction. A line of deep pot bunkers awaits the conservative tee shot on the 2nd, a par 3 with a green that lacks depth - only the most accurate survive. The par 5 7th is a magnificent links hole following the line of the beach. The hard fairway funnels into a green that is cleverly tucked away into a natural depression allowing you to chase a long iron in from distance and watch it run. The 13th is the picture hole though, a delightful par 3 that plays against a backdrop of the dramatic rockfaces beyond. The green and surrounding bunkers almost merge into the dunes, giving you a true feel of how golf was played on this spectacular terrain over 100 years ago.
Immaculately manicured they may not be, but the many courses of North Wales have so much to offer with wonderfully unique features, character and a reassuringly warm welcome. For a golf holiday that won’t break the bank, but will leave you with lasting memories and a real fondness for the region you can’t better the courses on this dramatic coastline. ‘Golf as it should be’ is the tag line of Visit Wales and this area offers exactly that. Great scenery, memorable courses, and an abundance of fresh air, all at a reasonable price.