Royal Porthcawl Golf Club Course Review - One of the finest links not just in Wales, but anywhere. Golf Monthly contributing editor Rob Smith explains why

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club Course Review

Green Fee Range: £60-£145

Medal Tee: Par 72 – 6,580 Yards

Visitor Times: Every day

Website: www.royalporthcawl.com

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club Course Review

I am looking forward to a return to Wales this year as it is a weakness in my golfing CV that I’ve so far only played around 30 of its lovely courses. Of those, the one that I’ve played most often is the glorious links at Royal Porthcawl, currently the nation’s leading contender in the Golf Monthly Top 100.

The opening hole - a shortish par 4, but don't go left

The opening hole – a shortish par 4, but don’t go left

I first played here getting on for 25 years ago and still remember sitting in its wonderful, time-capsule of a clubhouse surreptitiously earwigging a planning meeting for the 1995 Walker Cup which was to feature a 19 year-old Tiger Woods.

Over the years, I have returned regularly for the simple reason that not only is the course one of the best anywhere, but it’s a personal favourite that I always enjoy playing. A testimony to its allure is that last year a diary overload meant that I very happily made the return trip to play the course from my home in Kent in a day.

The first three holes are all strong par 4s that run along the shore. This means that in a westerly wind, it is sometimes necessary to aim over the beach. You then turn inland to play the first of four excellent short holes, before heading up the hill via the par-5 fifth.

The seventh is a very pretty par 3, a mere 122 yards but where the wind is critical and the green is well protected by a necklace of bunkers. Eight usually plays back into the wind, and the first half concludes with a terrific par 4 to a tricky green the other side of a hollow.

Looking back at theeighth from beside the halfway house

Looking back at the eighth from beside the halfway house

There is a very inviting drive from an elevated tee to open the back nine, followed by another classic and heavily-bunkered short hole at eleven.

The well-bunkered short eleventh

The well-bunkered short eleventh

It’s then back up the hill before a really tough finish that includes four superb and challenging par 4s punctuated by the final par 3 at fourteen and a birdie chance at the long seventeenth.

The final green at Royal Porthcawl

The final green at Royal Porthcawl

For me, the real joy of Royal Porthcawl is that rather than one or two standout holes, there are eighteen new and different challenges that have rightly hosted some top-flight tournaments but which can be enjoyed by all.

With room for up to twelve, the Dormy accommodation means there is never any need to leave, and I very much enjoyed staying there with the Golf Monthly team a couple of years ago.

A great, natural links, Royal Porthcawl frequently changes direction and elevation and you are rewarded with excellent sea views throughout. Protected by the wind and its very impressive bunkering, it is a delight from start to finish with far greater variety than many links courses.

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club Course Review – Golf Monthly Verdict

A great layout delivering excellent variety. A brilliant old-fashioned clubhouse too