From the Senior Open links at Royal Porthcawl to the Ryder Cup layout at Celtic Manor, South Wales golf courses are blessed with enviable variety
The pick of the South Wales golf courses, and Wales' highest-ranked course in Golf Monthly’s Top 100 at number 22, Royal Porthcawl has hosted countless top events over the years including the 1995 Walker Cup and last year’s Senior Open Championship. It is a links of true quality that maybe, just maybe could one day host The Open itself.
Pyle & Kenfig
P&K as it’s known locally is but a short par 4 away from Porthcawl at its closest point. The front nine has elements of links and heathland about it, but the back nine, which gets in amongst the tallest dunes, provides an exhilarating ride of pure links golf.
This rugged course set above Ogmore-by-Sea and the Ogmore estuary provides a truly links-like experience well above sea level and a little way inland. There’s something liberating about playing our great game where sheep are still free to roam at will.
The original front nine on this hilltop moorland course plays its way up to and around the ragged remains of a 13th century castle, while the newer back nine serves up some memorable moments where it plays around a vast former quarry.
Rolls of Monmouth
This majestic parkland layout plays around the former home of the Rolls family of Rolls-Royce fame, with the striking manor house forming a stirring backdrop to the final hole – a long and challenging par 3.
Much Ryder Cup drama ensued here in 2010 despite the weather’s best efforts. The Twenty Ten course in the Usk valley may be the star attraction but it is ably supported by the rolling Roman Road layout and the Montgomerie course that includes holes from the old Wentwood Hills and Coldra Woods layouts.
From the very tips, the Wales National is the country’s longest course, serving up a stiff test where accuracy and position are of paramount importance. The shorter Lake course features water on 12 holes, including the signature island-green 12th.
The Old course at St Pierre has hosted many tour events as well as the 1996 Solheim Cup, with water making its presence felt on the back nine. The long, closing par 3 playing back up towards the Marriott hotel is a fearsome finale. The Old is complemented by the shorter Mathern layout.
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Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
Jeremy is currently playing...
Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft
3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft
Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft
Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)
Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response
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