Old-fashioned links at its best with very attractive rough-edged bunkers
Aberdovey Golf Club Course Review
Green Fee Range £37-£58
Medal Tee – Par 71 – 6,535 Yards
Visitor Times: Seven days a week
Aberdovey Golf Club Course Review
Herbert Fowler, James Braid and Harry Colt have all left their mark on this out-and-back links that is nestled beautifully between rolling hills and the railway on one side, and the beach on the other.
Golf has been played for more than 120 years over this slender links strip between beach and railway, with the opening fairway also presenting a narrow target.
But over the opening stretch, the green complexes are designed in such a way that minor miscues may well end up better than you could have hoped.
In recent years the club has introduced rough-edged bunkering under the supervision of David Williams, with the end result some of the most attractive bunkers anywhere.
Related: Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland
The longest of the bordering tufts may leave you praying that your ball will find the sand, though, rather than just missing it.
The blind par-3 3rd – ‘Cader’ – with its punchbowl green, may be Aberdovey’s most famous hole, but for many the back nine excels, starting from that par-3 12th with its now even more exposed plateau green perched above the beach.
The excellent 13th and 14th then hug the dune ridge, before the links switches back to the railway side for a homeward run starting with a par 5 strengthened by a long, narrow, two-tier green, then a classic risk-reward par 4 where overdoing the draw in an attempt to drive the small green will see your ball bouncing around among the ballast and sleepers the wrong side of the fence.
Course changes since previous ranking
Extension to the 14th tee
Commenced programme of restyling bunkers – from the naturalised style that was adopted previously to part revetting whilst also keeping a natural look (the totally naturalised bunkers looked great initially but the maintenance and playability created too many issues, unfortunately!)
Major work on ditches and course drainage to hopefully maintain our reputation for being open all year round
Clubhouse-wise we have opened a restaurant, the Oyster Catcher, for evening service which has been extremely well received
Proposed course changes
Definitely happening –
Continuing programme of restyling/improving bunkers.
Upgrading pathways – first one we are definitely changing is shell path before 18th fairway, replacing with coverlawn. Plan for future to have has many natural looking paths as possible.
Extension of 5th men’s tee, 9th tee and 12th tee.
Planned changes –
Fill in left hand side ditch near pump house on 1st hole – re-contour, shape and turf to make walkway wider with less wear.
Improve size of all blue teeing grounds.
Reshape back of 8th green/approach, introducing subtle mounds which will be closely mown and also run off areas.
Clubhouse-wise – exploring possibility of adding further bedrooms onsite.
Golf Monthly Verdict
A classic links with some cracking par 3s, especially the fabulous 12th.
Rob Smith Visits…
Having played Aberdovey a few times in a former life, I hadn’t visited for many years until last Summer when I was lucky enough to return on a bright, sunny afternoon. I was particularly interested to see how the club had coped with losing their signature twelfth green, right up against the beach, to erosion.
The course occupies a beautifully peaceful expanse of land between the beach and the railway line on the northern side of the Dovey estuary, surrounded by lush, green, rolling hills. It opens with a tough par 4 and the chance to open the shoulders from the off.
The second is a more forgiving par 4 and you then have the first short hole which calls for a semi-blind shot up to a green that tends to gather the ball… but don’t rely on it!
Another strong par 4 at the 4th leads you to the second par 3, this one heading inland away from the dunes.
Six and seven lead you further north, and the eighth is a short par 4 where the number one objective is to avoid the sand.
Looping around the turn, you reach a wonderful par 3 that is played up to a green in the dunes and is effectively the club’s signature hole. My visit was a week or two before it re-opened – hence the lack of a flag – but it looked an absolute picture and is now better that ever. It is also one of those holes that is worth the green fee on its own.
If you’ve a northerly wind, the next three holes – 5-4-5 – offer the chance of some points, as does the risk-reward 16th which is all about positioning from the tee.
A pair of testing par 4s completes the round, the latter played to a large green perfectly situated in front of the welcoming clubhouse and Dormy House.
After a gap of way too many years, it was great to get back to Aberdovey, one of the most charming and enjoyable courses in Wales.
With several other tempting courses along this beautiful coastline and accommodation on site, Aberdovey makes for an excellent base for a golfing tour.