In May, 2010, a friend and I decided to experience golf in Wales. We had traveled to the courses of Scotland and Ireland in prior years, and having a love for links golf we wanted to play the courses throughout Wales. 215,000 steps later and we had played many of the great Welsh tracks along with a few gems in England.
When we travel to play golf, we play golf. On this trip it amounted to 15 rounds in 8 days – epic! We started the journey by driving from Heathrow Airport to play Southerndown, then Tenby, Pennard, Machynys Peninsula, Royal Porthcawl, Porthmadog, Nefyn, Pwllheli, Royal St. David’s, Aberdovey, Royal Lytham and St.Annes, Royal Liverpool, North Wales, Conwy and The Grove before heading back to Heathrow and home.
I walk the course most every time I play golf unless it is not permitted.
On this trip I wore a pedometer each day while we were golfing in order to track how much walking the trip would entail. We figured that each step is about a yard, so the total for the trip was just shy of 125 miles! Now if we had hit the ball a bit straighter the distance could have been less.
Wales has some wonderful courses, so I will highlight a few and include some pictures.
While not a true links course, Southerndown is a challenging, fun golf course up and down hills with links style hazards including gorse and even sheep! Overall Southerndown is a very good test of your game.
Here is the approach to the second hole.
Spectators at Southerndown.
We traveled to Tenby the following day.
This is a picture of the par four 3rd hole.
The downhill Par 3 17th at Tenby.
The afternoon took us to Pennard, “The Links in the Sky”. Pennard is an incredible golf course that inspires you to play it over and over again. After a short introduction from Mike the Pro we were off to take on the tumbling fairways and interesting green complexes.
The challenging 7th green at Pennard.
A walk down a fairway at Pennard.
The next day we started at Machynys Peninsula, a Jack Nicklaus design, which is a likable course but we both decided it was similar to any resort golf course you could play in the U.S.
Next stop on the agenda – Royal Porthcawl.
Royal Porthcawl is a true links course and should not to be missed on a trip to Wales. The course has some very tough par threes, firm ground and windy conditions which made it one of the most memorable rounds of the trip.
Second shot on an uphill par five.
One of the well guarded one shotters.
The next day we arrived at Porthmadog before the course opened, but were allowed to play at the blessing of the green keeper. Porthmadog has rather bland opening holes followed by a stretch of fun holes in the dunes which lead to several mediocre parkland holes to finish.
The sporty 12th hole at Porthmadog, par 4 –358 yards.
From Porthmadog we traveled to Nefyn and District Golf Club which is a course that gets mixed reviews. While not the strongest test of golf the views are spectacular. Here are a couple sample holes.
Tee shot from the second hole at Nefyn.
Tee shot on the 13th hole at Nefyn.
The 13th green at Nefyn.
From Nefyn we decided we had not played enough so we headed to Pwllheli Golf Club for a third round of the day. The course is another mix of parkland holes at the start and finish and fun true links golf in the middle.
Next up after a good nights sleep is Royal St. David’s or Harlech.
This is another very good course with holes that meander through heath and dunes. Unfortunately there are not more holes in the spectacular dunes that border the golf course.
A trip down the road a ways brings us to Aberdovey a links course that plays true to the style with wind, rain and firm conditions.
Chipping up to the par three 12th at Aberdovey.
Since we were “in the area” we had to check out two of the Open Championship courses in Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes. These were two highlights of the trip. Lytham will be hosting the Open Championship in 2012 and I look forward to watching the tournament. The course is very difficult, well bunkered and makes you think on every shot.
Blasting out of a fairway bunker at Lytham.
A par 3 at Lytham.
Coming home on the 18th at Lytham with the clubhouse as the backdrop.
The first hole and historic clubhouse at Royal Liverpool.
The second green and a sample of the green complexes that await the golfer at Royal Liverpool.
We returned to Wales to play North Wales Golf Club and Conwy. Conwy serves as an Open qualifier course. Then it was off to London with tired feet for one last round before heading home. We decided to play The Grove, a resort course outside London that hosted the 2006 American Express Championship won by Tiger Woods at –26. Though we prefer the links courses this is a superb layout and in perfect condition.
Looking back from greenside on the 5th hole at The Grove.
The green on the 13th at The Grove.
We walked 214,397 steps through 15 courses in Wales and England and not a golf cart in sight. Golf as it was meant to be.
Tom Bielanski – A walking golfer.