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-£155

Medal Tee: Par 72 – 6,580 Yards

Visitor Times: Every day

Website: www.royalporthcawl.com

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club Course Review

Members at Royal Porthcawl can thank both Harry Colt and Tom Simpson for their design genius, but perhaps more than that, they can be grateful for a wonderful tract of land that slopes gently upwards away from the beach creating sea views from start to finish.

Related: Top 100 golf courses UK and Ireland

The finish from the 13th on is particularly tough with four challenging par-4s punctuated by lovely short hole at fourteen and a birdie opportunity at the long 17th.

The 2nd. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

One of the real joys of Royal Porthcawl is that rather than one or two standout holes, there are eighteen fresh and different challenges.

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 5th. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

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.

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 9th. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

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.

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 few years ago.

The 16th. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

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.

Course changes since previous ranking

Nothing significant

Proposed course changes

Improvements to 25 bunkers in 2019

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club Course Review – GM Verdict

A great layout delivering excellent variety. A brilliant old-fashioned clubhouse too. Wonderful sea views all the way at the best course in Wales