A guide to golf in South Wales
With the understandable allure of playing in Scotland, Ireland and England, it is unfortunate that Wales is somewhat overlooked as a golf travel destination. It has much to offer.
There are more than 200 courses to be experienced in Wales, with a variety of classic links and mature parkland coming together to providing very satisfying options. It is in the South – within close proximity to Cardiff and Swansea – where you will find the most appetising of courses.
Royal Porthcawl is arguably the jewel in the crown of Welsh golf. Situated just 30 miles from Cardiff, its notoriety and reputation has grown significantly since Bernhard Langer triumphed in the Senior Open Championship that was contested there last July. This stunning links course has also hosted Amateur Championships, the Walker Cup and numerous professional events during its lifetime. And rightly so. It is an exquisite examination of links golf, and rivals anything else that you would come across in the British Isles.
Royal Porthcawl hosted the Senior Open Championship in 2014
Just a few miles from Swansea, you will discover the spectacular Pennard Golf Club. An unusual course – that is situated on the Gower Peninsula – it sits upon a cliff-top around 200-feet above sea level, but still plays like a traditional links. Designed by the legendary James Braid, its elevated position offers stunning views across the coast – not to mention a stiff challenge. Pennard is unquestionably among the finest courses in Wales.
Five years ago, the golfing spotlight was fixated on Wales – and specifically the Celtic Manor Resort – for the 2010 Ryder Cup. Colin Montgomerie’s Europeans saw off Corey Pavin’s Americans during a dramatic long-weekend, and you can relive those moments and shots by playing the Twenty Ten Course. Just outside of Newport, its location is an asset to anyone staying in the area or in nearby Cardiff. With excellent hospitality to be expected and the chance to walk in the footsteps of great players, the Twenty Ten has much to attract golfers who desire a shift from traditional links.
2010 Ryder Cup venue, Celtic Manor has become a hugely popular destination for visiting golfers
Southerndown – near Porthcawl – is a fine example of a rugged, fun and purely natural layout. Very much like Pennard, the course sits high in the sky – above the Ogmore River Valley – which allows for stunning views across the Bristol Channel. With a challenging breeze always present, the course has many links-like characteristics, but is unquestionably unique with its presence of grazing sheep, who inhabit the fairways and act as captivated spectators. Give them some company and add Southerndown to your South Wales itinerary.
Originally designed by the legendary architect Harry Colt, no visit to the region is complete without a visit to the stunning Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club. Sitting adjacent to the revered Porthcawl – P&K (as it is commonly referred as) is a fine traditional links courses, which provides beautiful views across the British Channel – and hosted the Amateur Championship in 2002. Colt’s original nine-holes remain intact, but it is the second nine laid out by Philip Mackenzie-Ross that are the standout holes on the course. This is a wonderful course to double-up with Porthcawl.
South Wales - Brilliant for golf groups
When not gallivanting across the courses of south-Wales, Cardiff offers a varied and satisfying nightlife – with many highly-regarded pubs, clubs and restaurants all within the city centre. St Mary Street is arguably the hub for evening leisure, with the Brewery Quarter the self-proclaimed “home of entertainment in the heart of Cardiff”. It is certainly worth checking out for yourself. Playing golf in South Wales and combining it with a city stay is an attractive proposition – and will find most resonance with a group of friends or couples.
The capital also features a number of spectacular and fascinating landmarks – most notably the imposing Cardiff Castle – which has proven to be a popular tourist attraction. There are other castles found throughout the city – Castell Coch, St Fagans and the Bishop’s Palace – which provides a real sense of history and period among a vibrant metropolis. There is much to explore.
Just 40 miles from the capital is Swansea, the second most populated city in Wales. Situated on the south-west coast of the country, there is a seaside feel to the town. Many visitors will be drawn to the Waterfront – which is a five-mile strip of coastline. Here, you will find a beach, promenade, leisure pool and museums. It is an enjoyable diversion from the golf, and would be well suited to visiting families.
With an appetising combination of city vibrancy and rugged golfing landscapes, South Wales is a destination that should be added to your list. It is worth a visit.
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