North Wales. Not your average golf destination. We’d like to think it’s a bit special. Golf as it should be, you might say. Parkland courses. Tough technical challenges. And more links courses than you can take a swing at. Each one with an incredible view.There’s a St Andrews in Scotland. A St George’s in England. So, it’s only right there’s a St David’s in Wales. And former Ryder Cup Captain, Bernard Gallacher OBE thinks Royal St David’s in Harlech is “one of the finest courses in the world”. Not bad considering it used to be under water. From its reclaimed dune land right next door to Harlech Castle it has awesome views of Snowdonia and the Moelwyns. And Tremadog Bay from the 16th. So it’s easy to see why it’s rated among the world’s best links. The club won the 2006 BIGGA Golf Environment Prize for Wales and the South West, too. So the greens are officially green.
From the Greens at Nefyn and District Golf Club you can ‘see the sea from every tee’. An understatement if ever there was one. It’s a ‘linksy’ clifftop course. And a potentially perilous one at that. Sheer cliffs on all sides. The Irish Sea below. And just a tiny strip of land stopping it becoming an island in its own right. But don’t worry. Ty Coch Inn is just below the 12th green. Should your nerves get the better of you. The club has rarely closed since it opened in 1907. Head Green Keeper, Patrick McAteer and his team work tirelessly to keep the course open all year. So that big names like Ian Woosnam – course record holder, as it happens – can play there. Whatever the weather.
We’ve other strikingly good courses to choose from, too. At Northop Golf Club they’ve 247 acres of mature woodland. And a par 72 championship course designed by former Ryder Cup star John Jacobs. Where most notable holes include the 16th. A 380 yard dog-legged par 4 with water to the right. And trees to the left. And a stream in front of the green. A challenge if ever there was one. There’s an undercover driving range, too. So you can practice whatever it’s doing outside. Not that weather is really a problem. Greens and tees are United States Golf Association specification. So the course is smooth and dry all year. In October 2003 they hosted a European Challenge Tour event. The first of its kind ever held in Wales.On the subject of major events, Conwy Golf Club will be staging the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open this June. Where Spain’s José Rivero will defend his title. From the likes of Gordon J Brand, Eamonn Darcy and Sam Torrance. The course has been specially toughened up under Royal and Ancient guidelines, too. So they’ll be tested to the full. Other events at Conwy include the Ladies’ British Amateur Stroke Play Championship 2007. And the 2009 European Amateur Team Championships. So it’s all go. But the hard work’s worth it. The club was awarded a HSBC/Golf Monthly Gold Award for 2005. And 2006. And Golf Punk magazine ‘Staunchies’ voted it best Welsh Course 2006. According to Travel Editor Owen Blackhurst it’s “...defined by a tightness of fairway that would have even Jim Furyk reaching for his hip flask...” You get the picture.Abergele Golf Club (the original one, that is) was demolished in the 1960s. Zealous members came to the rescue and built another one. And it’s a good job, too. Because members and visitors are still enjoying it 40 years on. It’s where club professional Iain Runcie coached Becky Brewerton. Later this year she’ll be competing in the Wales Ladies Championship of Europe. She used to caddy for her dad here. Until, that is, she turned professional and the roles reversed. The course is close to the sea. But it’s more parkland than links. With knockout coast and castle views. So it’s no surprise it’s widely regarded as the most picturesque in Wales. Which is just the diversion you need, if you’re struggling with your game. The course has brand new USPGA greens. So they’re smooth and dry all year. Just look out for the tactical bunkers lurking on the challenging par 4s. And the signature 18th hole. Where the fairway races down a hill. To a very tight gap. With big trees on one side. And dense woodland on the other. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Prestatyn Golf Club is ball-losing distance from the Irish Sea. It’s mainland Wales’ northernmost course. And one of the longest in North Wales. Covering the best part of 4 miles from its championship tees. Andif that wasn’t enough, challenging westerly and northwesterly winds are a feature of the course. So by the time you’ve navigated ‘Round the Bend’, tackled ‘The Ridge’, and dealt with the Prestatyn Gutter (a problematic draining ditch on six of the holes, since you’re asking). You’ll be hoping the par 5 18th lives up to its moniker ‘Home at Last’.
This is just the beginning. North Wales has over 60 courses. Where you can get a bit wild off the tee. Play like a champion. Or just play to unwind. Then sling a swift half at the clubhouse afterwards. And like any golf destination worth its salt, we’ve great places to stay, too. So you can make a real golf break of it. And we’re easy to get to. In no time at all you could be teeing off at some of Europe’s most excellent courses.
For more information or to book your golf break in North Wales call 0845 450 5885 or visit www.golf-northwales.co.uk