Feature review e Newport Links Golf Club
Feature review by Max Jenkins from Teeofftimes.co.uk
Designed by James Braid in 1925, the original nine-hole course was purchased by the current owners in 1998. The course was purchased with a vision of transforming a picturesque and secluded 9-hole links golf course into one of the finest golf resorts in Wales.
On arrival, you will be struck by the stunning and picturesque views that this resort has to offer. With the Carningly Mountains on your left and the famous Pembrokeshire coastline on your right, you cannot help but feel a sense of tranquillity and peace as you prepare for your round.
The opening hole is a par-3 that plays uphill to a green that is protected by pot-bunkers. At 156 yards it is not the most daunting hole in the world, but avoid the bunkers at all costs here in order to give yourself the best chance of making par.
A solid drive is required off the second tee in order to find the rather large fairway. A strategically placed pot bunker on the right hand side of the fairway will punish any drives pushed to the right.
One of the toughest holes on the golf course is the par-5 4th hole. Measuring over 550 yards, this hole requires two long and straight golf shots to set up a birdie opportunity. With heavy gorse on the right hand side and ‘out of bounds’ down the left hand side, accuracy is key to playing this hole well. Longer hitters may reach this green in two with a prevailing wind, but against the wind, par is an exceptional score here.
The 6th hole is one of the most scenic on the golf course. With magnificent views over the bottom 9-holes, the Carningly Mountains and the Irish Sea, this hole really is one of the most spectacular holes in the country. Do not let the beauty of this hole mislead you however, as this stroke index 1 hole is one of the most punishing holes on the course.
The signature hole on the golf course comes in the form of the par-4 8th hole. This hole requires a draw off the tee around the dog-leg in order to set yourself up for the shortest approach shot. The second shot into this green is truly spectacular. With the Pembrokeshire coastline and the Irish Sea as the backdrop to this green, the approach shot as scenic as it is challenging.
One of the main features of the front nine at Newport Links is how exposed you are to the elements. Wind direction and ferocity will determine the scoring conditions on this nine. To illustrate this, the approach shot on the 8th hole can be hit with a lob wedge one day and a 4-iron the next day.
As you reach the turn, you are presented with two reasonably good chances of making birdie in the space of three holes. The first comes at the relatively short par-5 10th that dog-legs slightly to the right. At just over 480 yards, a good tee shot on this hole will leave the longer hitters with a long-mid iron a green heavily guarded with bunkers.
The second comes at the par-5 12th hole. Previously a par-4, this hole was once regarded as the hardest hole on the old 9-hole course. It has since been lengthened into a long par-5 that many will struggle to reach in two. With a prevailing wind however, a good drive will leave the longer hitters with a mid iron to the green. Be careful with the approach however, as anything short will bounce down to the left of the green and find the treacherous bunker that guards it.
Arguably the most difficult hole on the golf course comes at the signature hole of the back nine. The 15th hole is one of the toughest par-3’s I have ever played. Totally exposed to the elements on the tee, this hole requires a well-struck long iron or hybrid to find the green. Sand dunes, pot bunkers and run-off areas around the green are waiting to punish wayward shots. The views from the tee are amongst the finest on the course.
The closing holes on this course are neither the longest nor the most difficult holes that I have ever played. But with heavy gorse and strategically placed pot bunkers, keeping your concentration levels high is essential. Missing the 17th green to the left can prove fatal. Perhaps the steepest and most punishing pot bunker awaits any shots pulled slightly to the left.
The greens were in very good condition and the speed and receptiveness remained consistent from start to finish. The undulations and subtle breaks in the greens was merely confirmation that this really is one of the finest links courses in the country.
The warm and friendly atmosphere derived from the clubhouse combined with the exceptional food in the restaurant made the experience even more enjoyable. It is certainly a golf course that I would recommend and one that will only get better over the coming years.
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