Royal St David's Golf Club Course Review - one of Wales' premier links courses is set over ideal coastal terrain and features a particularly demanding last five holes.
Royal St David’s Golf Club Course Review
Green Fee Range: £60-£95
Medal Tee: Par 69 – 6,403 Yards
Visitor Times: Every day – the on-line booking system is available for whenever there is no competition in place.
Royal St David’s Golf Club Course Review
The flood damage that afflicted this stern but rewarding test of golf a couple of years ago has long gone and the club is concentrating on improving every element of the visitor experience both on and off the course.
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This premier Welsh links at Harlech on the West coast owes its Royal patronage to HRH The Prince of Wales – later Edward VIII – who was captain in 1934.
It plays over essentially flat linksland between a tall dune ridge on the coastal side and an imposing 13th-century castle on the town side, underneath which the course sets out over a front nine that slowly builds towards a splendid back nine.
The par-3 4th, with its raised green, stands out early on, while the back-to-back par 5s on the 7th and 8th represent the links’ full quota of three-shotters.
The pace quickens as the course begins to skirt the dune ridge more closely on the 9th, with a string of magical back-nine moments following in its wake, from the semi-blind 220-yard 14th, to the stirring 15th.
The viewing steps behind the 16th provide both a rare glimpse of the sea and an elevated view of a seemingly modest par 4, where clusters of pot bunkers up at the green add to the test.
Overall, this is a links that places strong demands on good positional play and willing acceptance of the odd rogue bounce.
Course changes since previous ranking
Raised more than 75 bunkers out of the problematic water table to significantly improve playability
Enlarged and improved approach areas and surrounds of every green
Piped/filled in ditch across 10th hole (stroke index 1) and added 2 new bunkers
Significant re-shaping of the left hand side of the 11th green to remove astroturf path and steep rough banks. Now a large undulating area cut as approach.
Proposed course changes
Continued improvement of all areas, with specific focus on making the course less challenging and thus more playable for all standards of golfer.
Further improvement work to pathways and all aspects of presentation.
Golf Monthly Verdict
A golfer’s golf course under the sentinel watch of Harlech Castle.
Rob Smith Visits…
I returned to Royal St. David’s on an overcast morning last Summer after a gap of something like thirty years and a Winter that had ravaged the course and kept it closed for weeks. Terrific effort and success by the greenkeeping team were evident and the course was back in excellent shape with plenty going on throughout the club to improve the visitor experience.
This is a superb links and a real test of golf. It opens with one of seven par 4s over 400 yards, this one watched over by the medieval castle.
Two more two-shotters lead you to the opening par 3 which plays very long into a westerly breeze.
A pair of tough par 4s is followed by back-to-back par 5s which may offer chance of some points, again depending on the wind. These lead you to the northern end of the layout at the par-3 9th.
The back nine starts with another challenging par 4, and I love the par-3 11th which demands accuracy and perfect club selection.
As you face the castle again on the next tee, you must not be distracted from your task of getting as far down the fairway as possible.
Two more tough par 4s sandwich the 14th, a brute of a par 3 to a hidden green.
The round concludes with two more par 4s and a closing one-shotter which is played over an expanse of trouble.
I was delighted to finally make it back to Harlech and experience this great links as well as hear about plans for its continued improvement.
On their own, the beauty of the scenery all along this coastline and inland have huge appeal. Add a game at Royal St. David’s into the equation and I would recommend a visit to any keen golfer.