With its stunning landscape of rugged mountains, dramatic coastline and turquoise seas, Snowdonia has long been popular as a holiday destination for golf enthusiasts, who love the challenging links golf courses Snowdonia has to offer.
As the great Ian Woosnam himself once said of playing golf in North Wales: “If you are looking for challenging golf then there is no better place to test your driving skills than on the golf courses in Snowdonia Mountains and Coast… it is the ideal location to test all the abilities of your game”.
We’ve said ourselves, time and time again, that North Wales’ golf courses are set in some of the UK’s most breathtaking scenery. And with golf in Wales being under the spotlight right now, with the Ryder Cup Wales 2010 just around the corner, there’s no better time to talk about what makes golf in Snowdonia so special: the courses.
You’ll find all sorts of courses in Snowdonia, from parkland and upland to clifftop and mountain; but we think you’ll agree it’s the region’s links courses that really put Snowdonia on the map as a golf destination.
The links courses of Snowdonia each have their own individual charm, their own little personality traits that set them apart from each other and from other links courses around Britain. The burning question is: how to choose which links course to play first? Here’s a quick guide which we hope will help you answer that question.
Royal St David’s, Harlech
This par 69 championship course has a reputation as one of the hardest par 69s in the world. Perhaps that’s how Royal St David’s found its way into Ian Woosnam’s top five British courses. Set against a breathtaking backdrop of Snowdonia’s mountains and coast, Royal St David’s is a formidable course and arguably one of the finest traditional links courses in the world.
Nefyn and District, Morfa Nefyn
Nefyn and District Golf Club is a unique par 71 championship links course with 26 holes – and it’s one of the most dramatic (and attractive) courses in the UK. Even the course designer R H Taylor described Nefyn and District as “one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever seen”. Every tee offers a sea view, and every hole offers a risk or reward challenge.
The par 71 championship links course at Aberdovey holds an unusual distinction in that it was the first in Wales to use a turf iron. Set in an Area of Special Scientific Interest, Aberdovey Golf Club is classic links with a thoroughly modern attitude, and is the home of the annual Welsh men’s seniors championship. Watch out for the wind on this course; it’ll change from friend to foe in the blink of an eye!
This par 69 park and links course adjoins the beach at Abersoch and is both picturesque and challenging. The sheltered position of Abersoch Golf Club lends a warm climate all year round. And something really special about Abersoch is that all the holes have Welsh names, which encourages players to chat with locals in order to learn how to pronounce them!
Conwy Golf Club, Morfa, Conwy
Conwy Golf Club is a par 72 links course at the mouth of the River Conwy which has hosted several major championships during its 140-year history. The course sits in the shadow of Conwy Mountain and offers beautiful views of Llandudno’s Great Orme and the Conwy estuary.
Porthmadog Golf Club, Morfa Bychan
Porthmadog Golf Club is in the lovely seaside village of Morfa Bychan, which is also famous for its vast Black Rock Beach. This par 71 links course is an interesting mix of heathland and linksland, set among some of Wales’ most beautiful scenery. It’s been said many times that the back nine at Porthmadog are the most natural in Wales.
Pwllheli Golf Club
Pwllheli Golf Club sits very close to the seashore at Pwllheli’s West End. It’s a par 69 links and parkland course, with flat, gentle parkland and a true test of links golf. It’s suitable for golfers of all ages and abilities, with tree-lined fairways and gorgeous countryside and coastline as a backdrop. Pwllheli Golf Club has an unusual distinction, in that its clubhouse is closer to the sea than any other in the UK.
Fairbourne Golf Club (Clwb Golff Rowen)
The par three, nine-hole course at Fairbourne Golf Club is really special, as it’s a community project dedicated to making sport accessible and affordable for the whole community. The club’s location in the Mawddach Estuary is extremely picturesque, overlooking the Cardigan Bay coastline. This short nine-hole course is perfect for beginners, and there are free starter lessons for juniors in the off-peak season. Green fees are very low; the club’s motto is “affordable sport for everyone”, a philosophy that all golfers will no doubt agree with.