The 50-mile Gower Peninsula coast path is blessed with non-stop views, and although there was no time for even a modest stretch this visit, I mentally marked it down for a future family holiday ‘project’. For those who can’t resist the lure of the cash register, the unique seaside village of Mumbles on the east Gower coast boasts some 120 shops and restaurants, while back closer to Tenby, the small town of Narberth offers a step-back-in-time shopping experience far removed from today’s identikit modern High Streets, with a host of independent and specialist shops to browse through at leisure.
Carry on west from here, and eventually you’ll arrive in St David’s, Britain’s smallest city and home to an unexpectedly grand cathedral. This mighty edifice contrasts with the city’s little nine-hole golf course over which we played many a fun round all those years ago. It was one of those ‘honesty box’ courses, where you rolled up, chucked a few quid in the box and headed on out with quite possibly no other golfers in sight. And it was still like that when I returned more recently for nine holes with my now late father-in-law, who found its gentle test the perfect challenge for his more occasional golfing outings.
The other nine-holer we always used to enjoy was the links at Newport just up the Pembrokeshire coast, with one hole in particular living long in the memory for our inability to ever find its green! It was a par-3 at the far end of the course, invariably played in a crosswind that did all manner of unfavourable things to our seemingly well-struck shots. The course has since grown into an 18-holer with its own hotel, but I’m quite sure that hole will still be confounding and confusing in equal measure.
West Wales really is an ideal golfing destination, one where you can stride the fairways in peace and solitude without ever making a serious dent in your wallet, even at its premier clubs – ‘golf as it should be’, once more. As with South Wales, you’ll get to experience golf’s full spectrum, from links, clifftop and parkland to the modern championship test at Machynys. Some golfing travellers may dread the point where the motorway ends and they’re at the mercy of the lesser roads, but in the case of West Wales, when the M4 has run its course, that’s when the fun really begins.
Where to stay, play and visit in West Wales: