Arriving at a golf club early evening in April may seem strange if you’re hoping to get all 18 holes in, but Tenby has its own comfortable and, indeed, recently refurbished dormy house accommodation, allowing us to stumble out of bed the next morning and walk a mere 30 yards for a hearty clubhouse breakfast before hitting the 1st tee while the rest of the golfing world was still wiping the sleep from its eyes. It also allowed us to chat to Tenby’s friendly younger members over a pint or two in the bar the night before as they executed a carefully planned surprise birthday ‘do’ for one of their number.
Tenby is a delightful walled Pembrokeshire town with two beaches accessed via a network of paths up and down the cliffs. The South Beach offers views out to Caldey Island where monks spend their time creating excellent chocolate and perfume. More importantly for golfers, it also flanks the town’s fine links, which sets its stall out from the tough 1st before taking you on an immensely enjoyable ride through rolling fairways, tall dunes, pot bunkers and occasionally testing green complexes. Here, you can play for just £70 all day or £50 a round in the height of summer (just £25 during twilight hours) on a links, the calibre of which would set you back considerably more elsewhere in the UK.
While in the area you should also visit the links courses at Ashburnham and Machynys Peninsula, both near Llanelli. Long-established Ashburnham twice hosted the PGA Championship before it set up permanent camp at Wentworth, while 21st-century Machynys Peninsula is Wales’ first Nicklaus-designed course. This modern take on the links theme has already tested Europe’s top lady pros four times in the S4C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe.
From Machynys you’ll enjoy views across to the famous Gower Peninsula, designated Britain’s very first ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ back in 1956. Any trip to West Wales should include a stop here, not least for the chance to play the pretty clifftop course at Langland Bay, and the fabulous ‘links in the sky’ at Pennard, which provides a genuine links experience a couple of hundred feet above glorious golden sands, with a touch of tangible history thrown in too in the form of a ruined castle and 13th-century church by the short par-4 7th.
Talking of glorious golden sands, Gower is renowned for its beaches, and after a long 36-hole day we felt privileged to arrive at Rhossili’s three-mile stretch just in time for the kind of sunset you feel must have been artificially enhanced in photos. With the flaming orange sun descending gradually to the thundering waves it was a magical moment for both the surfers taking full advantage, and us, as we stared open-mouthed at the breathtaking vista before us.
It certainly made it worth our slightly tardy arrival at Fairyhill ten minutes away in Reynoldston, a charming 18th-century Georgian mansion delivering real class and the warmest of welcomes. From the moment you turn into the tucked-away entrance down a quiet country lane, everything is ‘just so’ whether in the tastefully decorated rooms, bar and restaurant, or the grounds, where a thoughtfully placed bench by a meandering stream provides the perfect spot to reflect on the day’s golf or just enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation.
A trip to Tenby Golf Club, West Wales: