Jeremy Ellwood picks out ten of the finest golf courses by the water’s edge in Wales...
10 Great Golf Courses On The Welsh Coast
With water on three sides and a coastline stretching to 850 miles, it’s no surprise that Wales should be blessed with such a strong line-up of seaside golf. This whistlestop clockwise tour of ten of the Welsh coast’s finest courses tees off at its most highly regarded links – Royal Porthcawl, ranked 23rd in Golf Monthly’s UK & Ireland Top 100.
The sea is in view on every hole on this superb links, with the early stretch running right alongside the beach, most notably the 2nd, where the green lies just a few feet from the out of bounds fence.
Porthcawl has hosted many premier events, among them the 1995 Walker Cup, and in 2014 and 2017, the Senior Open Championship – which were both won by Bernhard Langer.
One of the qualifying venues for 2017 was Pyle and Kenfig, just a couple of par 4s from Royal Porthcawl at its closest point.
P&K boasts two contrasting nines, with the more open-feeling front nine leading into a spectacular back nine in among towering dunes that are home to some of the most stirring links holes in the whole of the country.
Heading west to Gower’s southern coast, Pennard is a links with a difference, playing over genuine rumpled links terrain 200ft above Three Cliffs and Oxwich Bays.
A Norman castle and ancient church ruins flank the 7th hole, and legend has it that a village lies buried beneath the fairways, victim of a sandstorm centuries ago.
Machynys, also a Senior Open qualifying course, is another Welsh links with a difference.
This Nicklaus creation offers a 21st-century take on the links theme, less rugged than traditional interpretations but equally susceptible to the elements, and with water aplenty in the form of lakes.
The course emerges alongside the estuary on the back nine with wonderful views of Carmarthen Bay and Gower.
Next stop is yet another Senior Open qualifying venue, the venerable old links at Ashburnham, where the opening and closing duos play in a separate corner, between which the course follows a classic out-and-back routing.
The closing quartet constantly changes direction to keep you on your toes as you try to get home with your score intact!
Venture further west to south-east Pembrokeshire, and you’ll come to Tenby, Wales’ oldest club.
This links plays over magnificently rugged terrain, stretching the full length of the South Beach right down to the raised 9th tee.
From here, you can gaze back along the links to the ancient walled town, or across to Caldey Island, home to an order of creative Cistercian monks.
Golf has been played at Aberdovey for 120 years on a slender links strip between beach and railway.
The most memorable holes come on the back nine, starting with the excellent 12th, a par 3 playing up to an exposed green on the dunes with magnificent beach views.
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There’s something awe-inspiring about playing golf over the hummocks and hollows of the glorious links terrain beneath the gaze of mighty Harlech Castle at Royal St David’s.
The back nine in particular is of exceptional quality, with the standout 14th and 15th holes among the highlights as you gaze across to the often snow-capped peaks of Snowdonia.
Up in Wales’ north-west corner lies the country’s most photogenic coastal course of all – the magical 27-holer at Nefyn and District, where the back-nine on the Old layout plays over an unfeasibly narrow headland called The Point.
This is a golf setting like no other in Wales, so even if your game deserts you, you can simply soak up the views, or even stop off at the Ty Coch Inn halfway through the back nine to refresh and regroup.
Our final stop is Conwy on the north coast.
This links presents a fine test with magnificent views and drama aplenty, whether out to the Irish Sea, across to Llandudno and Great Orme, or inland to the majestic hills that form a stirring backdrop to holes like the excellent par-3 13th.
With many other fine courses dotted around the coast, you’ll never find yourself too far from some very fine seaside golf indeed in Wales.