Before leaving the Lln Peninsula, wander a little further down to Abersoch where Harry Vardon‘s original links nine has since been complemented by a newer nine making for an excellent overall package. Watch out for the cottage on the 7th, which could well come into play if your drive strays too far left. Abersoch isn’t the only course on the peninsula with contrasting nines. Back along its southern coast, the 112-year-old Pwllheli Golf Club boasts a mix of pure links and majestic parkland holes courtesy of Old Tom Morris and James Braid.
The game’s early greats were hard at work creatively in this part of the world, for Braid was also responsible for the part links, part heathland layout at Porthmadog, close to our base for the second night – the famous Portmeirion village where the 1960s TV series, The Prisoner, was filmed, and which is up there with Nefyn when it comes to uniqueness.
This little piece of Italy in the north-west corner of Wales was the brainchild and vision of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who spent some 50 years building it from 1925 until 1975. It is simultaneously beautiful and surreal, believed by some to be based on the Italian fishing village of Portofino, coincidentally (or not, perhaps?) located in a similar crook on the north-west Italian coast. You can stay here in the hotel down on the waterfront, or in one of a number of properties spread around the village, and walking down from our Cliff House cottage to dine in the hotel’s elegant Terrace restaurant was a very pleasant way to pass an evening reflecting on the day’s golf.
From here, it’s worth venturing north across either Thomas Telford’s Menai Bridge or Robert Stephenson’s Britannia Bridge to the Isle of Anglesey, where Bull Bay is the most northerly of some nine island courses. Swathes of gorse, and wonderful views across Bull Bay to the Irish Sea, paint a very pretty golfing picture indeed here.
We then headed back across the Menai Straits and on east up the excellent A55 North Wales Expressway for a long overdue date with Conwy Golf Club, one of North Wales’ most renowned links, which had thus far eluded me some 30 years into my golfing ‘career’. There’s gorse in abundance here too, especially over the fearsomely tight closing holes. Such was the friendliness of the members that one even insisted on giving us his beautifully prepared, and indeed laminated, course guide, pointing towards some ominous clouds on the horizon.It was a thoughtful gesture, but thankfully the rain missed us, and we finished a very enjoyable round under a golden sun.
The course once again plays host to the European Senior Tour this August (24-26), when the stars of yesteryear – who are still mighty fine players today – pay their third visit for the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open. It’s easy to see why too, as the course presents a fine test of links golf blessed with magnificent backdrops all around.
Unlike Nefyn, Conwy plays at sea level; like Nefyn, there is drama aplenty in the surroundings, whether out to the Irish Sea, across the Conwy estuary to Llandudno and the Great Orme, or inland to the dramatically adjacent hills that form a stirring backdrop to holes like the excellent par-3 13th, just before you take on the aforementioned gorse in earnest down the stretch. I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of holes here, a clever blend of chances to score and some sterner challenges.
A trip to Conwy Golf Club: