Our selection of the top golf courses in Wales include some glorious traditional links and two courses with Ryder Cup connections
The design of this historic links has evolved under the guidance of Harry Colt, James Baird and Herbert Fowler among others. Dunes frame the holes and the course’s rugged, natural feel has been enhanced in recent years by the re-introduction of rough-edged bunkering.
Memorable holes include the blind par-3 3rd to a punchbowl green and the par-3 12th to a plateau green perched above the dunes and beach.
The club boasts that this hole is “is one of the hardest par 3s in British golf“.
It is all about the tee shot here, as the green is relatively flat, allowing birdie opportunities for those who have found the dance floor from the tee.
The Twenty Ten course opened in 2008, and was designed specifically to host the Ryder Cup, the first course to be purpose-built for the event. Nine of the holes came from the former Wentwood Hills course at the resort, and nine were freshly constructed.
The new design succeeded in its aim to provide dramatic risk-and-reward matchplay holes. Water features on half the holes.
This club was founded in 1890, but golf had been played on the site before then. During the First World War its course was requisitioned for military use, and so a new layout was crafted utilising the adjoining land.
During the Second World War parts of this course, including the area behind the 2nd green, were where the pre-fabricated harbours for Operation Overlord were constructed. Peacetime therefore brought about another redesign of the course.
This 2nd hole is now called Mulberry Landings and is a tricky par 3 with a two-tier green defended by six bunkers.
The present layout is flat links which was the first Welsh course to host final Open qualifying for The Open, in 2006. Conwy Golf Club will host the Curtis Cup in 2020.
Nefyn & District
Nefyn & District is one of the top golf courses in Wales even though it is two courses. Sort of. It has two layouts, the Old and the New. The club has 28 holes, and each layout uses the same opening 10 holes, before going their separate ways for the back eight.
The opening holes cling to the edge of the headland, and the Old has some dramatic, much-photographed clifftop holes along the Lleyn Peninsular. Both layouts require blind shots and have superb panoramas, with the sea in view from every hole. On a clear day, you can see the Wicklow mountains across the Irish Sea.
This South Wales golf course on the Gower Peninsular has the nickname ‘Links in the Sky’ as it is 200ft above sea level. As you may imagine, the course has splendid views and many elevation changes.
Another feature of the golf course at Pennard is the ruined 12th-century castle which gives its name to the 7th hole.
Pyle and Kenfig
Harry Colt designed the original links course at Pyle and Kenfig, but the Second World War reduced it to only nine holes. After the war, fresh linksland was used to bring the course back to 18 holes, and Mackenzie Ross designed this new nine-hole loop.
The Colt nine is the easier half, before the layout starts to thread its way through the dunes for Mackenzie Ross’ holes. The three closing holes, all long par 4s, can be brutal.
Royal St David’s
The undulating fairways, deep bunkers and hard, fast greens of Royal St David’s are watched over by the majestic Harlech Castle on the town side and a tall dune ridge on the coastal side.
The back nine has more drama than the flatter front nine. Overall this is a links that places strong demands on good positional play and willing acceptance of the odd rogue bounce.
You should aim to make your score on the front nine of this traditional links, as the course ramps up the challenge later on with five par 4s over 400 yards in the last seven holes.
Wind can be a strong influence here especially as the course dodges about, so holes face in all directions. The lack of sand dunes at Royal Porthcawl makes for some superb sea views.
The clubhouse is a particular delight, an echo of a previous age.
Southerndown is not only one of the top golf courses in Wales but the top ‘limestone-heathland-links’ in Wales, if not the world. This is was how the club describes its course as and this most unusual terrain has created an intriguing style of course.
A limestone outcrop provides the basis for acid-loving heathland vegetation such as heather, bracken and gorse, as well as making the land free draining.
Sand blown up from the seashore over centuries has added a links-like feel to the opening eight holes with springy turf reminiscent of a links course.
Welsh former Ryder Cup-winning captain Dai Rees loved the 3rd hole at Tenby Golf Club so much that the club named it after him.
This stroke index-one 382-yarder has dunes and thick rough along the right of the fairway on the drive. Then the approach shot is to a steeply sloping green raised on a plateau – heavily contoured greens are a feature of this traditional links course. So, too, are blind shots and pot bunkers.